Preferences, Information, and Entry into Academic Careers
Last registered on August 09, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Preferences, Information, and Entry into Academic Careers
Initial registration date
August 08, 2018
Last updated
August 09, 2018 1:39 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Bath
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Educational and career choices are based on beliefs about subsequent career outcomes but these beliefs may be incorrect. In this research we document that U.S. STEM doctoral students hold excessively optimistic beliefs about the share of students eventually becoming tenure-track faculty in research-intensive institutions. We then conduct a field experiment providing STEM doctoral students accurate information on historical placement rates to estimate whether this information impacts their preferences for different careers (academia versus industry) and their actual career choices.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Ganguli, Ina, Patrick Gaule and Danijela Vuletic. 2018. "Preferences, Information, and Entry into Academic Careers." AEA RCT Registry. August 09.
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Experimental Details
Information about historical placement outcomes was provided to a random subset of students. A random subset was also provided with a link to career profiles of individuals with Chemistry PhDs.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Stated preference for doing a postdoc
Stated preferences for academic (faculty and postdoc), industry, teaching faculty positions.
Actual career choices after completion of PhD studies
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Stated preferences for different types of postgraduation jobs – postdocs, industry, or teaching positions – are measured using both hypothetical choice methods and more standard Likert measures of preferences for different careers. These will be measured in a follow-up survey.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Beliefs about share of students placing into tenure-track position
Beliefs about one's own likelihood of getting a tenure-track position
Job satisfaction
Hours worked (self reported)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We contacted close to 9000 doctoral students in U.S. chemistry departments and invited them to complete a survey on their doctoral experience and preferences for different careers. Upon completing the survey, a random subset of respondents then received a link to a website containing historical placement information. A smaller random subset also received a link to career profiles of individuals with a Chemistry PhD. We will contact the respondents from the baseline survey approximately one year later to measure outcomes.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization using a random number generator
Randomization Unit
Group randomization at the university level into three groups: in group one all students receive the information treatment, in group two nobody receives the information treatment, in group three a third of the students are randomized into the treatment, a third into receiving a link to a website from the American Chemical Society with career profiles of individuals with a Chemistry PhD, and a third are controls.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
52 universities
Sample size: planned number of observations
1800 students in the baseline survey
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
800 control, 800 treatment, 200 alternative treatment (link to a website from the American Chemical Society with career profiles of individuals with a Chemistry PhD)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
University of Massachusetts Amherst Human Research Protection Office
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers