Big Data in Academic Profession Studies: Advantages and Limitations

Webinar | April 20 | 10-11am PDT | Livestream

The seminar will be focused on new opportunities for academic profession studies provided by global Big Data and large biographical, administrative, publication and citation datasets. The academic profession research has traditionally used academic surveys. Nowadays, new complementary data sources can be used (raw citation and publication metadata from Scopus and Web of Science, data from merged datasets of different types etc.). New sources radically increase the number of observations, to hundreds of thousands and more – but huge numbers come at a cost, compared with survey instruments. A comparison of advantages and limitations of survey methods (which the author has used extensively for a decade) and large-scale bibliometric methods will be presented. Major topics of the seminar will be the trade-offs in data collection and data analysis; advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing; the power of raw publication and citation metadata; and dataset availability, mergers, and running costs. Academic profession studies face opportunities previously hard to imagine. But some options (for instance, academic attitudes and beliefs) still seem to require large-scale surveys to tackle. Examples of author’s studies on global aging of the academic profession, gender homophily in science, and the global super-class of highly cited researchers will be discussed. The traditional questions of “who they are, how they work” will be translated into Big Data questions applied at the micro-level of individual scientists. Finally, practical implications of the field going global will be explored.

Marek Kwiek is Professor and Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Institutional Research and Higher Education Policy, and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities (IAS,, University of Poznan, Poland. His research area is quantitative studies of science and higher education research and policy. He has published 220 papers and his recent monograph is Changing European Academics: A Comparative Study of Social Stratification, Work Patterns and Research Productivity (Routledge, 2019). His most recent papers are in “Higher Education” (2021), “Journal of Informetrics” (2021), “Studies in Higher Education” (2021), “Journal of Economic Surveys” (2021), and “Scientometrics” (2022, 2022, 2020). A Principal Investigator or country Team Leader in 25 international higher education research projects funded by the European Commission; the European Science Foundation; and the Fulbright, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations, attracting about 2.7 million euros in research grants. 

An international higher education policy expert for the European Commission, USAID, OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, Council of Europe, and the European Parliament. He spent three years at North American universities, including the University of Virginia, UC Berkeley, and McGill University. An editorial board member for Higher Education Quarterly, European Educational Research Journal, and British Educational Research Journal. In 2018, he was elected an ordinary member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) in Salzburg and in 2021 – an ordinary member of Academia Europaea in London, the European Academy of Sciences. Contact: Twitter: @Marek_Kwiek.