I'm a 4th year PhD student in Education, and I'm noticing a trend that no one seems to be able to explain to me. I'm at a large state school (ranked ~30 in education, better in my discipline for whatever rankings are worth). I've started to stalk assistant professors at schools I'd be interested in applying to, and I've noticed there seems to be a stratification between "good" (i.e. state, UC schools not called Berkley or UCLA) and "elite" PhDs. Most elite students appear to publish almost exclusively in conference proceedings. In contrast, I see a lot of new graduates from "good" school who have 5+ journal publications, several of which are first-author publications. And not in crap journals or anything.

Is there something different about how students at Harvard, Stanford etc. are told to conduct their research. How does this play into hiring? If you went to a good school and have six publications, are you always going to loose out to a Harvard grad no questions asked? I know this is subjective, but I'd love opinions from those who have an idea of what might cause this, or perhaps what is wrong with my observation.

Edit: The field I'm looking in specifically is education.

Edit2: People wanted some examples. As a simple example, look at the assistant professors Utah State University Instructional Technology and Learning Science (a good program in it's field) vs. the assistant professors at Harvard school of Ed.

At Utah state, if you skim through their CVs they had between 1 - 10 (!) publications when they graduated from their PhDs. Harvard? 1-3. Maybe that isn't a full blown study, but let's call it a case study.

Additionally, you could look at the University of Utah Educational Psychology assistant professors, many of whom had no publications at graduation but tend to be from more prestigious school despite Utah State and University of Utah being a little more comparable. This may be a more applicable comparison to the Utah State group.

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    Sounds like you're talking about CS, do you want to specify a field? – Azor Ahai -him- May 10 at 18:20
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    Unless you present hard data, it seems to me you are just seeing confirmation of your bias. One anedocte is one anedocte, thirty anedoctes are 30 anedoctes, ... but n anedoctes are statistics! – EarlGrey May 10 at 18:21
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    Many mathematicians think that what matters is the importance of your best paper, not how many papers you have written. (And, especially for a PhD student, that paper can be something still making its way through peer review or even still being written up.) But different people have different opinions and different fields have different aggregate opinions. – Alexander Woo May 10 at 19:03
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    I don't understand your example; your question seems to be about students (and which kind of university they are studying at), while your example seems to be about assistant professors (and what kind of university they are a professor at). – Morgan Rodgers May 10 at 19:22
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    Knowing nothing about any of the programs, I perused several of their web sites. I think that the various programs have little in common (with respect to curriculum, goals, target audience) with each other, and serve very different needs. Therefore it would not surprise me if their CVs looked different. – Jon Custer May 10 at 19:49

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