This paper contributes to the debate on academics’ internationalisation and academic research productivity by focusing on knowledge diffusion.
The policy measures to foster national innovation systems and Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are entrenched in the establishment of the European Research Area and in the European Higher Education Area. These two settings also represent the changing dynamics of international academic mobility, which, in turn, can be translated in an increase of extramural collaboration and its importance in academic research activities over the last few decades. In Portugal, public policies on S&T developed in the last years have fostered an increase of PhD graduates, inciting them to study abroad. Consequently, many PhD students have been studying outside Portugal. Alongside these developments, international publications have been assuming increasing relevance in researchers’ recruitment and career advancement. One of the facets of knowledge production is research performance and research outputs, which in HEI is usually measured in terms of publications produced by individuals and/or research groups. Trying to see if there is a relationship between academic international experiences and academics’ research productivity, we took those PhD graduates who have a contractual relation with an HEI, and asked them whether having graduated abroad favoured a different profile for disseminating knowledge produced with a higher emphasis on publishing internationally. We believe this is so, given the higher orientation that foreign countries may have towards publications in international outlets when compared to Portugal and the fact that being abroad improves researchers’ knowledge of a second or even a third language. Bearing in mind that the internationalisation of the academy varies according to individual, institutional and structural characteristics, and that among factors influencing it, discipline plays a major role, we will be able to assess whether the different types of outputs reported by researchers are dependent on their characteristics, with the main factor being the international experiences of the staff. Using a dataset of 9602 staff members of Portuguese HEI coming from a mandatory questionnaire by the Portuguese Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (covering nearly all doctorates in Portugal–in 2012, 83% of the PhD were employed in HEI), we explore the relationship between the self-reported publication patterns of these staff and the HEI where they obtained their PhD degree (abroad or in a national institution). Statistical inference and econometrics methods were used in order to assess whether this relationship is significant. The analysis was also broken down into different scientific fields to check whether this relationship holds for each scientific field.
Conclusions show a positive effect between taking the PhD abroad and reporting a higher number of international articles (both when considering only journal articles and all international outlets). However, when checking for the robustness of these effects broken down by the ISCED-97 fields of education, that effect does not hold for most fields, being only significantly positive for Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences, Commerce & Law, while having null and negative effects for other fields, suggesting that, after all, the overall effect verified earlier was due only to the effect of this variable on some fields.