In this study, the current rectors of 197 universities (127 public and 70 non-profit foundation universities) in Turkey were examined in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics, career development, and academic qualifications (the number of published articles and citations and H-index). The data were collected via a prosopograhical approach from the official websites of the universities and the presidents, as well as the Web of Science and Scopus databases. The findings suggest that the presidents may be classified into two groups based on their sociodemographic characteristics, career development, and academic qualifications. In the first group are those rectors who are dominantly male, are graduates of Turkish universities, and have lower academic qualifications in terms of the number of published articles, citations of their published works, and their H-index. The social media posts of the members of this group show intense loyalty and support to Turkey’s governing ideology, and the academic performance of the universities managed by these rectors is poor. The second group of rectors is also male-dominant and is comprised of graduates of foreign universities. These individuals generally have backgrounds in engineering, medicine or administrative science, and higher academic qualifications in terms of the number of published articles, citations of their published works and their H-index. Their social media posts often include news related to students and their academic and scientific achievements. The academic performance of the universities managed by these rectors was also found to be high.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
This study summarizes the major axis of the historically academic freedom in Turkey for an international audience. Academic freedom experience of the modern university in Turkey, like its democracy, is full of numerous violations of academic freedom. Despite many reforms, purges and violations encountered every term have revealed that academic freedom is a fundamental moral and mindset problem (Özipek 2008). The issues of academic freedom in Turkey are regulated by university reforms in 1933, 1946, 1960, 1973, and 1981. Each of these university reforms coincides with socially and politically important periods. The 1933 reform took place in single-party period; the 1946 reform was introduced in the transition to multi-party life, and the reforms of 1960, 1973, and 1981 were passed at the times of military coup (Günay 2001). The current reform (!) was introduced in 1981. In 1992, the reform was revised, and the universities were granted partial rights to have a say in the appointment of the leadership and management positions to comply with democratization, academic freedom and autonomy (Seggie and Gökbel 2014). However, in 2016, the President of Turkey gave up this practice and became the only person who has the authority to appoint rector. Presently, it is difficult to say that there is academic freedom in Turkey as the rectors are being appointed only by the Presidency of Turkey.
For the details of this discussion, see Breakwell and Tytherleigh (2010).
H-index has some disadvantages. First of all, the point of reference is the number of citations, and the criticisms of other criteria that evaluate scientific publications based on the number of citations are valid here, as well. There is no periodic distinction in the H-index, so this marker may be higher for researchers with a longer career span (Bornmann et al. 2008). Therefore, it is more appropriate to use it for comparing researchers who have been involved in scientific activity for a similar period of time. Likewise, differences in research orientations among the disciplines lead to researchers having different H-indices; therefore, evaluations should be made within the discipline; the comparability of researchers in different disciplines is limited. Another point of discussion is the evaluation of the researchers according to only the H-index without regard for the total number of citations. For example, a researcher who has 200 published articles that are cited 500, 450, 250, 150, or 100 times. His/her H-index would be 20 if only 20 publications were cited more than 20 times. On the other hand, another researcher whose highest-cited publication has 35 citations, but the rest of his/her studies also have around 20–35 citations, even if s/he has 20 papers over 20 citations, his/her H-index would also be 20 (Doğan, 2005). However, the three main criticisms of the H-index do not apply to this study, as the age and academic career span of the rectors in Turkey are similar (SD = 6.18). Furthermore, the Turkish rectors’ H-indices are not significantly different in terms of their disciplines/fields (especially for the rectors with low H-indices). For example, most of the 105 rectors whose H-indices were between 0 and 2 came from disciplines/fields with high H-indices in the literature, such as engineering (13%), medicine (12%), and economics (12%). A detailed examination of Tables 6 and 7 shows that there is no distorted relationship between the number of publications and citations of the Turkish rectors, and the total citations are consistent with the H-indices.
The social media use and content of the rectors cover the time span between January and May 2019. The study considered Twitter posts, rather than all social media platforms, as it was determined that 93% of the rectors used Twitter actively. To analyze the posts, Twitter shares were transferred to a Word file, and the usage frequency was transferred to Excel using R (programming language). In the last stage of the analysis, the Twitter shares were analyzed via content analysis under three structures: “academic sharing,” “political sharing,” and “communication.”
Achola, P. P. W., & Aseka, E. M. (2001). Searching for and accessing senior managers for public universities in Africa: challenges and opportunities. International Conference on Leadership and Management of Higher Education for Efficacy in Africa at Kenyatta University. Nairobi.
Aksoy, H. A. (2018). Gendered strategies between democratization and democratic reversal: the curious case of Turkey. Politics and Governance, 6(3), 101–111.
Altbach, P. G. (2001). Academic freedom: International realities and challenges. Higher Education, 41, 205–219.
Altbach, P. G., Yudkevich, M., & Rumbley, L. E. (2015). Academic inbreeding: local challenge, global problem. Asia Pacific Education Review, 16(3), 317–330.
Arabaci, İ. B. (2011). Organizational climate of Fırat University. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 3(1), 161–180.
Ashley, A., & Patel, J. B. (2003). The impact of leadership characteristics on corporate performance. International Journal of Value-Based Management, 16, 211–222.
Bargh, C., Bocock, J., Scott, P., & Smith, D. (2000). University leadership: the role of the chief executive. Buckingham: SHRE and Open University Press.
Birnbaum, R. (1989). Presidential succession and institutional functioning in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 60(2), 123–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.1989.11775018.
Boer, H. D., & File, J. (2009). Higher education governance reforms across Europe. Brussels: ESMU.
Bornmann, L., Mutz, R., & Daniel, H. D. (2008). Are there better indices for evaluation purposes than the H index? A comparison of nine different variants of the H index using data from biomedicine. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(5), 830–837.
Bornmann, L., Mutz, R., & Daniel, H. D. (2010). The H index research output measurement: two approaches to enhance its accuracy. Journal of Informetrics, 4(3), 407–414. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2010.03.005.
Braun, T., Glanzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2005). A Hirsch-type index for journals. The Scientist, 19(22).
Breakwell, G. M., & Tytherleigh, M. Y. (2008). UK university leaders at the turn of the 21st century: changing patterns in their socio-demographic characteristics. Higher Education, 56(1), 109–127.
Breakwell, G. M., & Tytherleigh, M. Y. (2010). University leaders and university performance in the United Kingdom: is it ‘who’ leads, or ‘where’ they lead that matters most? Higher Education, 60(5), 491–506.
Broady, D. (2002). French prosopography: definition and suggested readings. Poetics, 30(5–6), 381–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-422X(02)00031-1.
Çankaya, İ., & Demirtaş, Z. (2010). Öğretmen adaylarının görüşlerine göre üniversite iklimi ve atalet arasındaki ilişki. Pamukkale Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 28(28), 1–9.
Capano, G., & Regini, M. (2014). Governance reforms and organizational dilemmas in European universities. Comparative Education Review, 58(1), 73–103. https://doi.org/10.1086/672949.
Costas, R., & Bordons, M. (2007). The H-index: advantages, limitations and its relation with other bibliometric indicators at the micro level. Journal of Informetrics, 1(3), 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2007.02.001.
Dodd, C. H. (1963). The old testament in the new. London: The Athlone Press.
Doğan, M. (2005). Araştırıcıların bilimsel başarıları ve h-faktörü. Cumhuriyet Bilim Teknik, 976, 8–9.
Doğramacı, İ. (2007). Türkiye’de ve dünyada yükseköğretim yönetimi. Ankara: Meteksan.
Drucker, P. (1959). Landmarks of tomorrow: a report on the new post-modern world. New York, NY: Harper.
Eells, W. C., & Cleveland, A. C. (1935a). The effects of inbreeding. Journal of Higher Education, 6, 323–328.
Eells, W. C., & Cleveland, A. C. (1935b). Faculty inbreeding. Journal of Higher Education, 6, 261–269.
Emil, S. (2019). What do universities’ virtual faces tell at a glance? A visual and textual analysis of Turkish universities’ official homepages. Journal of Higher Education (Turkey). https://doi.org/10.2399/yod.19.009.
Erdoğmuş, N., & Esen, M. (2014). The socio-demographic characteristics and career preparation of the rectors in Turkey. Yükseköğretim Dergisi, 4(1), 44–53.
Estermann, T., & Nokkala, T. (2009). University autonomy in Europe: exploratory study. Brussels: European University Association.
Eurostat. (2018). Employment and activity by sex and age—annual data. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=lfsi_emp_a&lang=eng.
Glänzel, W. (2006). On the opportunities and limitations of the H-index. Science Focus, 1(1), 10–11.
Goodall, A. H. (2009). Socrates in the boardroom: Why research universities should be led by top scholars. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Goodall, A. H. (2010). Why Socrates should be in the boardroom in research universities? In Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE.3.10. https://doi.org/10.11436/mssj.15.250
Günay, D. (2001). Üniversitenin neliği, akademik özgürlük ve üniversite özerkliği. Policy, 14, 37–44.
Hambrick, D. C., & Mason, P. A. (1984). Upper echelons: the organization as a reflection of its top managers. Academic of Management Review, 9(1), 844–863.
Hepsen, A., Berberoğlu, M. G., & Aydın, O. (2017). Real estate investment trusts in Turkey: structure, analysis, and strategy. Journal of Business, Economics and Finance, 6(2), 191–199.
Higher Education Law (1981). Retrieved February 01, 2019 from http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2547.pdf.
Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(46), 16569–16572.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. London: Sage.
Horstschräer, J. (2011). University rankings in action? The importance of rankings and an excellence competition for university choice of high-ability students? (Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW); ZEW Discussion Papers, No. 11-061.). Mannheim.
Horta, H., & Yudkevich, M. (2016). The role of academic inbreeding in developing higher education systems: challenges and possible solutions. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 113, 363–372.
Horta, H., Sato, M., & Yonezawa, A. (2011). Academic inbreeding: exploring its characteristics and rationale in Japanese universities using a qualitative perspective. Asia Pacific Education Review, 12(1), 35–44.
Huang, F. (2017). Who leads China’s leading universities? Studies in Higher Education, 42(1), 79–96.
Karadağ, E. & Yücel, C. (2018). Türkiye üniversite memnuniyet araştırması 2018. Üniar Yayınları.
Karadağ, E. & Yücel, C. (2019). Türkiye üniversite memnuniyet araştırması 2019. Üniar Yayınları.
Karran, T. (2007). Academic freedom in Europe: a preliminary comparative analysis. Higher Education Policy, 20(3), 289–313. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.hep.8300159.
Karran, T. (2009). Academic freedom: in justification of a universal ideal. Studies in Higher Education, 34(3), 263–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070802597036.
Kelley, R. E. (1985). The gold-collar worker: harnessing the brainpower of the workforce. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Maassen, P., & Stensaker, B. (2011). The knowledge triangle, European higher education policy logics and policy implications. Higher Education, 61(6), 757–769.
McSweeney, B. (2002). Hofstede’s model of national cultural differences and their consequences: a triumph of faith—a failure of analysis. Human Relations, 55(1), 89–118. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702551004.
Mintzberg, H. (1979). An emerging strategy of “direct” re-Selznick, P. (1949) TVA and the grass roots. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 580–589.
Nyborg, P. (2003). Institutional autonomy and higher education governance. In Council of Europe Conference, Strasbourg (pp. 2-3).
O’Meara, B. (2002). The recruitment and selection for Vice-Chancellors for Australian universities. Geelong Victoria: Deakin University.
O’Meara, B., & Petzall, S. (2008). What do we know about the chancellors of Australian universities? Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 30(2), 187–199.
Özbilgin, M., & Healy, G. (2004). The gendered nature of career development of university professors: the case of Turkey. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64(2), 358–371.
Özipek, B. B. (2008). Akademik özgürlüğün anlamı ve gerekliliği. Liberal Düşünce Dergisi, 24, 185–195.
Padilla, L. E. (2008). How has Mexican faculty been trained? A national perspective and a case study. Higher Education, 56, 167–183.
Pan, S. (1993). A study of faculty inbreeding at eleven land-gran universities. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Iowa: Iowa State University.
Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (1978). The external control of organisations: a resource dependence perspective. New York: Harper and Row.
Presidential Decrees (2016) Retrieved February 01, 2019 from http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2547.pdf.
Presidential Decrees (2018) Retrieved February 01, 2019 from http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2547.pdf.
Pritchard, A. (1969). Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics. Journal of Documentation, 25(4), 348–349.
Raelin, J. (2003). Should faculty be “managed”? Academe, 89(3), 40–44.
Saisana, M., D’Hombres, B., & Saltelli, A. (2011). Rickety numbers: volatility of university rankings and policy implications. Research Policy, 40(1), 165–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2010.09.003.
Samuelson, B. A., Galbraith, C. S., & McGuire, J. (1985). Organizational performance and top-management turnover. Organization Studies, 6(3), 275.
Sauder, M., & Lancaster, R. (2006). Do rankings matter? The effects of U.S. news & world report rankings on the admissions process of law schools. Law and Society Review, 40(1), 105–134. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2006.00261.x.
Schwaag, S. S., Benner, M., & Liu, L. (2015). Chinese university governance: tensions and reforms. Science and Public Policy, 42(6), 871–886. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scv010.
Seggie, F. N., & Gökbel, V. (2014). Geçmişten günümüze Türkiye’de akademik özgürlük. İstanbul: SETA.
Skvortsov, N., Moskaleva, O., & Dmitrieva, J. (2013). World-class universities: experience and practices of Russian universities. In P. G. Altbach (Ed.), Global perspective on higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-034-7.
Standler (2000). Academic Freedom in the USA, from http://rbs2.com/afree.htm.
Stripling, J. (2012). Survey finds a drop in minority presidents leading colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12.
THE (2017). World University Rankings 2017. From; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2017.
THE (2018). World University Rankings 2018. From; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2018.
THE (2019). World University Rankings 2019. From; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2019.
Thomas, A. B. (1988). Does leadership make a difference to organizational performance? Administrative Science Quarterly, 33, 388–400.
Tierney, W. G. (2001). Academic freedom and organisational identity. Australian Universities Review, 44, 7–14.
Turan, S., Karadağ, E., & Bektaş, F. (2011). Üniversite yapısı içerisinde öğrenen örgüt ve örgütsel bağlılık ilişkisi üzerine bir araştırma. Kuram ve Uygulamada Eğitim Yönetimi, 4(4), 627–638.
TUSS (2018). Turkish university satisfaction survey. UniAr.
University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP). (2018). 2018 Üniversiteler sıralaması. Retrieved from http://tr.urapcenter.org/2018/.
Ural, A. (2014). Gazi Üniversitesi’nde örgütsel iklim. Amme İdaresi Dergisi, 47(2), 145–165.
Vanclay, J. K. (2007). On the robustness of the H-index. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(10), 1547–1550. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.20616.
Verboven, K., Carlier, M., & Dumolyn, J. (2007). A short manual to the art of prosopography. Prosopography Approaches and Applications. A handbook, 35–69.
Waugh, W. L. (2003). Issues in university governance: more “professional” and less academic. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 585, 84–96. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716202238568.
White, L. (2000). Academic tenure: its historical and legal meanings in the United States and its relationship to the compensation of medical school faculty members. Saint Louis University Law Journal, 44, 51–80.
Williamson, D. (2002). Forward from a critique of Hofstede’s model of national culture. Human Relations, 55(11), 1373–1395. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267025511006.
World Economic Forum. (2014). The global gender gap report 2014. Retrieved February 01, 2019 from http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/.
Yessirkepov, M., Nurmashev, B., & Anartayeva, M. (2015). A scopus-based analysis of publication activity in Kazakhstan from 2010 to 2015: positive trends, concerns, and possible solutions. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 30(12), 1915–1919. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2015.30.12.1915.
YÖK (2019). Yükseköğretim istatistikleri. Retrieved from https://istatistik.yok.gov.tr/.
Zahidi, S., & İbarra, H. (2010). The corporate gender gap report. Geneva: World Economic Forum.
Zarate, R. L. (2007). Four trajectories of rectors in Mexican public universities. Higher Education, 54(6), 795–817.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Karadag, E. Academic (dis)qualifications of Turkish rectors: their career paths, H-index, and the number of articles and citations. High Educ 81, 301–323 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00542-1
- Academic qualification
- Higher education
- Turkish rectors
- Career development