Academic genealogy

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An example of an academic genealogy, the supervisorial relationship between Dutch topologist Johannes De Groot and his namesake, also a Dutch topologist descended from the senior De Groot via four different paths of academic supervision

An academic, or scientific, genealogy, organizes a family tree of scientists and scholars according to mentoring relationships, often in the form of dissertation supervision or postdoc supervision relationships.

The academic lineage or academic ancestry of someone is a chain of professors who have served as academic mentors or thesis advisors of each other, ending with the person in question. Many genealogical terms are often recast in terms of academic lineages, so one may speak of academic descendants, children, siblings, etc.

Websites such as the Mathematics Genealogy Project[1][2] document academic lineages for specific subject areas, while those like the Academic Family Tree and PhDTree aim to provide a complete academic genealogy for all academic disciplines. However, not all links recorded in such databases are formal advisor-advisee relationships; for instance, the University of Cambridge did not require a formal doctoral thesis until 1919, and academic genealogies that include earlier Cambridge students tend to substitute an equivalent mentor.

Academic genealogies are particularly easy to research in the case of Spain's Doctor degrees, because until 1954 only Complutense University had the power to grant Doctorates. This means that all holders of a Doctor degree in Spain can trace back their academic lineage to a Doctoral supervisor who was a member of Complutense's Faculty.

Academic genealogy may influence research results in areas of active research. Hirshman et al. examined a controversial medical question, the value of maximal surgery for high grade glioma, and demonstrated that a physician's medical academic genealogy can affect his or her findings.[3] Articles written by authors from certain medical academic genealogies were likely to favor (or oppose) maximal surgical treatment for this disease.


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