I am a computer science student from Turkey. While I was checking the websites and publications of various CS Professors in Turkey for my future studies, I noticed a strange trend. (Excluding minor exceptions)

Usually, these professors hold a Ph.D from leading western institutions, and during their Ph.D they have published papers at extremely competitive top venues, like ICCV, ICDM, ICML and other places depending on their research interests. But, after returning back to Turkey and starting in an academic position, they can't even get their papers published in second tier venues.

So, what might be the reason for this ? If these people can publish during their Ph.D then why can't they do now ? Also, CS is not a field where extremely expensive lab equipment is required. So why are these people unsuccesful at publishing in top conferences/journals ?

  • 11
    Because they were part of a productive group in the prestigious institution they visited. And it's no longer the case.
    – Cape Code
    Feb 16, 2015 at 2:36
  • 8
    Because they only published papers in order to get a job in their home country. Feb 16, 2015 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


The problem that faces faculty at second- (and lower-) tier institutions including those in foreign countries is that research is often not valued or not given the resources necessary to flourish.

For example, at many national universities faculty have considerable responsibilities other than research, including teaching and national and local service. They may not have enough (or any) quality graduate students to help with teaching, to inspire them to explore new research areas, or to conduct research together. They may also have much more administrative duties with much less administrative support.

Finally, there may be little incentive for them to do or publish research. They may have civil service salaries that are not adjusted for research output. External consulting or tutoring may be more lucrative than doing work within the university.

  • 20
    Also, many of the best graduate students go off to do PhDs in the "leading western institutions," so faculty in the home country may have students of a lower caliber overall to work (and publish) with.
    – ff524
    Feb 15, 2015 at 23:11
  • 1
    @ff524 sure, but still faculty must be able to publish at least one paper alone.
    – mehdi
    Feb 15, 2015 at 23:13
  • 5
    @mehdi It depends on the field - in the systems side of computer science, for example, it's not very common to publish alone.
    – ff524
    Feb 15, 2015 at 23:16
  • 15
    +1: in particular, though "trying to publish their papers in top venues and failing" is a possibility, I think it's more likely that the institutions they go to have neither the sticks nor the carrots that encourage faculty to publish as often as possible in top places. One certainly does not have to go to Turkey to see this phenomenon take place: many people within the US are much more research-active as graduate students than they are as tenure-track faculty. Maybe even most. Feb 15, 2015 at 23:26
  • 8
    Another factor might be that they're actually more interested in teaching than research. My own MS advisor is an example: published competitive research as a student, now appears only as co-author with his grad students (of which he has about twice as many as anyone else in the department), but has been voted best teacher in the university a couple of times.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 16, 2015 at 6:31

I think that if the professor really published during his PhD, then probably it's a matter of not enough incentives in his home country (that is, he just needs to teach some courses per year, and scientific production is not a pre-requisite for tenure). In my country, for instance, in one of the most reputable universities, hiring equals tenure.

However, if he didn't publish during PhD, then one of the possibilities is that he just can't do research (not that he is not capable, maybe he just doesn't fit). As far I'm concerned, to get in top10 univ. at US you just need very good grades and excellent LoR, so it's perfectly possible that a very smart yet not good at research do PhD studies at top10. Then, univ. back in their home country hires them due to prestige of top10, even if there are better researchers that did top50, for example.

  • It is true that unfortunately-too-often admission to top-tier grad programs (in STEM, or math, with which I am most familiar) in the U.S. is based on prior events which are not well correlated with subsequent activity or interest, apart from the more common concern about (short-term?) "success". That is, getting through grad school, while a relatively good thing, is not large-scale success. I am acquainted with several high-end quiz-kids who finished PhD's at elite places but did not find much interest in continuing... Certainly no moral failing... Jul 22, 2018 at 23:55
  • ... but, arguably, "losing interest" disserves those faculty and students at a university where one has gained tenure, etc. True, it is a very rough game, and the "win" of getting tenure maybe is enough to absolve anyone. But, still, it's better if one hasn't been crushed into oblivion by that, and can be a help to others. A tricky business. Jul 22, 2018 at 23:57

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