Doctoral Students

Tim Albrecht

Topic of the thesis:

Berufsinduzierte räumliche Mobilität und Mobilitätsanforderungen in Deutschland

Victoria Alexandra Bauer

Topic of the thesis:

Student Behaviour Types and their Path to Academic Success from an Individual and Institutional Perspective

My dissertation project is part of the project "Bedeutung des institutionellen Kontextes für Studienabbruch und Langzeitstudium". funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). My aim is to analyse the predictors of academic success and failure beyond the individual context. The question of cross-level effects and selection mechanisms leads to the need for typification with regard to different levels of impact, including the institutional context. Therefore, my dissertation seeks to provide a comprehensive explanation of student dropout and eternal students. Regarding individual-level determinants of student success, my approach builds on perspectives from sociology and higher education research. At the same time, I draw on neo-institutional theories from political science to assess the effects of institutional policy and curricula on student behaviour.

What is special about my research is the use of non-reactive behavioural data, which is supplemented by retrospective survey data. Administrative data from the enrolment office and examination office of Leibniz University Hannover is used, from which information about examination registrations, no-shows and failures, deviations from the standard course of study and the socio-demographics of undergraduate students can be taken. Currently, I plan to conduct a large-scale survey, which focuses on the topics of self-organization, self-concept, university integration and socio-cultural background and will analyse this data using different types of regression models, event history analysis and cluster analysis. My theoretical framework is informed by a number of sociological theories, including Tinto’s Student Integration Model and Bourdieu’s Theory of Habitus and Field.

Nex Bengson

Topic of the thesis:

The Origins and Global Development of National Universities

Despite their frequent position at the apex of most higher education systems and connections to the nation-state, I find that national universities as a distinct institutional category lack conceptual clarity and empirical analyses. Through historical and comparative approaches, a unique dataset is planned to illuminate the concept's historical development, legal bases, and contemporary organizational details. Doing so could possibly establish the concept of the national university and further demarcate this institutional model from other concepts such as the flagship and the world-class university.

Nadine Dörffer

Topic of thesis:

Vocationally oriented schools as pathways to higher education for socially disadvantaged students?

Nowadays approximately one-third of all higher education entrance certificates in Germany are obtained at a vocationally oriented school. However, these schools remain subordinate in the discussion about socially unequal transitions to higher education. Even though early pathways to higher education via vocational school types have been institutionalized since the educational expansion processes of the 1960s/70s, knowledge about their respective contribution in guiding their students to higher education remains scarce. Additionally, vocationally oriented schools differ in their institutional and organizational structures between school types and federal states. In my dissertation, I address the question how vocationally oriented schools enable socially disadvantaged students to transition to higher education. My dissertation is broadly embedded in educational inequality research and focuses on institutional permeability as a precondition of social mobility (Bernhard 2018). For this purpose, this cumulative dissertation follows a mixed methods approach. Within its publications, the dissertation explores the main research question from individual, institutional and organizational perspectives. Therefore, I use secondary data sets of individuals (DZHW Studienberechtigtenpanel) for multivariate analysis and collected qualitative data material (documents, interviews) for qualitative content analysis. Overall, the dissertation project aims to enrich and specify knowledge about vocationally oriented schools as pathways to higher education and to critically classify the findings about their opportunities to reduce social inequalities in the transition to higher education.

Isabelle Fiedler 

Topic of the thesis:

Gender-specific differentiation processes in higher education

In my dissertation, I take an interdisciplinary research approach to analyse gender inequality in higher education. Against the background of the persisting gender segregation, I examine gender-specific differentiation processes that take place after the transition into higher education. I approach this topic both sociologically as well as psychologically. In particular, I explore the role of psychological resources, such as the academic self-concept, in relation to gender disparities and the extent to which this relation varies across different fields of study. To this end, I analyze longitudinal data from the student cohort of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) using quantitative methods.


Frederike Gerdes

Topic of the thesis:

Implementation of structured doctoral programs and their impact on the doctoral phase in Germany

New concepts of doctoral education have been developed to tackle the problems of the old “master-apprentice-model” (Enders 2005). The latter has been criticised increasingly for its long duration and lack of regulations. In Germany, a solution for these problems has been seen in establishing doctoral programmes with a more formalized structure (Kehm 2009). Nevertheless, after three decades structured doctoral education is still considered to be in an experimental phase (Hornbostel and Simon 2010).

In my research, I aim to investigate the current state of doctoral education in Germany on different levels: the public policy level, the organizational level and the level of individual experiences.  

Vivien-Sophie Gulden

Topic of  the thesis:

Gender patterns in career chances and realisations

More women than men obtain a higher education entrance qualification, and their share at university is also high. Therefore, women should have better career chances (reflected in employment opportunities and wages, for example). Nevertheless, the persistence of the gender wage gap and explanations like the sticky floor effect or the glass ceiling effect imply inequality regarding career realization. According to the general understanding, an improvement in opportunities, higher education and the higher presence of women at universities should also be accompanied by an improvement in the situation on the labour market.

Understanding why this phenomenon exists, and what the reasons for this are, can only be investigated in an interdisciplinary way in conjunction with the various disciplinary findings. This is necessary in order not only to find patterns of explanation, but also to actually develop proposals to improve the situation. Therefore, this topic is addressed in the context of the labour market (e.g. analysis of women in leadership positions), in the context of employment at universities and in the context of entrepreneurship.

Jennifer Henze

Topic of the thesis:

Conditions for knowledge co-generation in transdisciplinary processes

In October 2016 I started my position in the junior research group PlanSmart at the Institute for Environmental Planning at LUH. This five-year project is funded by the BMBF and situated in the area of socio-ecological research. We focus on planning and implementing nature-based solutions in river basins and currently support our case study project, the integrated EU-LIFE project ‘LiLa – Living Lahn’ with scientific knowledge in their decision making process for the future development of the river. Therefor we have different disciplinary backgrounds working together - like environmental planning, political sciences, ecology, geography, economy and social sciences - in order to best assess the effects of certain actions for the ecological, economic and social situation around the river.

My work focuses on knowledge co-generation in transdisciplinary processes, such processes that include and integrate knowledge from science as well as from practice. A central point are the involved actors of the case study (official project partners) with their different perspectives and values based on different knowledge backgrounds. Here I try to investigate the conditions for a successful knowledge co-generation that produces social robust knowledge for decisions and causes an adaptation of the previous perspectives in terms of interests and values the actors consider.  

Johanna Johannsen

Topic of the thesis:

The self-understanding of professors: Participations and orientations in the academic self-governance by professors from Lower Saxony.

In addition to research and teaching, participation in committees and bodies of the university is a fundamental task of each professorship. As holders of the key functions of scientific life, professors are required to participate in academic self-governance. While almost no one escapes this task, there are significant differences in the form of participation. The dissertation examines the professor’s self-understanding with regard to their participation and orientation in academic self-governance. In a sequential mixed methods design, the relationship between certain forms of participation (for example, as a leadership function) and various attitudes are analyzed first. With a subsequent qualitative content analysis, the quantitative results can be further explained and possible gaps and ambiguities revealed. Another perspective shall ultimately provide the reconstruction of orientation frameworks.

The quantitative data basis provides a data set with over 600 cases. For the qualitative analyzes, 26 interviews were conducted with professors at various universities.

The dissertation aims to explain theoretically and empirically why professors participate differently in the academic self-governance and to illuminate the self-understanding of professors. 

Julia Loose

Topic of the thesis:

Exploration of the interaction-experiences of faculty and impaired, chronically ill or neurodiverse students at German higher education institutions

Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to education. To realize this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, an inclusive education system at all levels shall be ensured.

Current data shows that the number of impaired, chronically ill or neurodiverse students at German higher education institutions is growing (Middendorff et al. 2017), facing disability-related barriers in regard to socializing, contacts and communication among others (Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) 2018). Tinto (1975) showed that the interaction with peers as well as faculty are important for a successful (academic and social) integration of a student and therefore are important for success in higher education/academic outcome.

Despite the knowledge of the importance of the interaction between faculty and impaired, chronically ill or neurodiverse students a lack of research is to be found. Based on this, within my dissertation I will examine this topic with qualitative research methods. The aim of the dissertation is to gain knowledge of the importance of the interaction between faculty and impaired, chronically ill or neurodiverse students. This knowledge can improve their interaction and therefore supports the realization of article 24 of the CRPD in German higher education institutions.   

Topic of the thesis:

Political participation in the context of higher education: characteristics, competences and civic inequalities

Nowadays, higher education is seen as crucial not only in preparing students for the participation on the labor market, but also as a major motor driving active citizenship forward. Civic activities play a central role in the reinforcement of a democratic society by shaping the socio-political conditions on different levels and promoting societal integration.

A positive association of higher education and active political participation has been shown in empirical research. With my doctoral project, I would like to further decode the characteristics of political participation of academics and illuminate potential inequalities inside this (seemingly) privileged group of higher education students and graduates.  

Katja Pomianowicz

Topic of the thesis:

Immigrant Educational Inequalities compared. The influence of tracking on different educational outcomes from a life-course perspective.

Vitus Püttmann

Topic of the thesis:

On the Organization of University-Firm Collaborations – Forms and Their Determinants from a Transaction Cost Theory Perspective

Interactive forms of knowledge transfer between university researchers and firms have emerged as a crucial part of the innovation systems of contemporary societies. However, key features of these collaborations, including the ways in which they are organized, remain poorly understood to date. Focusing on consulting assignments, contract research projects and research collaborations, the dissertation project investigates a) which contractual features and governance mechanisms – that is, organizational forms – cooperating parties deploy to coordinate their objectives and activities, and b) how differences in the choice of organizational forms can be explained. To answer the research questions, an analytical framework building on transaction cost theory is developed, which revolves around an explanatory model for the choice of organizational forms of university-firm collaborations. Hypotheses derived from that model are, subsequently, tested empirically based on a survey of actors involved in university-firm collaborations in the natural and engineering sciences in Germany.

Iana Rezlauf

Topic of the thesis:

"Research data sharing between the EU and the U.S."

Despite great pressure of open research data initiatives, relatively little research data are shared or reused. The pressure comes from various actors: funding agencies, publishers, scientific communities, and even other researchers who conduct studies supporting positive effects of data sharing for individual researcher’s career.

While a robust system to validate, replicate, and expand existing empirical research is in the best interests of the research community, individual researchers do not have sufficient incentives to provide access to their data. Apart from insufficient incentives, sharing scientific data is often hampered by barriers researchers need to overcome. Researchers often do not provide access to their data due to plenty of reasons, such as the lack the expertise, time, or other resources. Studies show that most barriers to data sharing are social, ethical, legal, and institutional, rather than technological.

The present research focuses on the legal challenges of clearly delineated practices of research data transfer between scholars from the EU and the United States. As far as the study has interdisciplinary character and analyses sociological and legal aspects of research data exchange between the EU and the U.S., interviews with researchers working in different scientific fields serve as an efficient way of identification of legal challenges scholars face in their experience with research data sharing. Interpretation of interview results are to be followed by detailed legal analysis of announced problems.

The present research, indicating and analysing practical legal issues faced by researchers when sharing data, is required due to the increased demand for international scientific collaboration, particularly at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marco Miguel Valero Sanchez

Topic of the thesis:

Career paths of postdoctoral researchers with disability and/or chronic disease

The dissertation focusses on the career paths of postdoctoral researchers with disability and/or chronical disease at universities and considers the question, which conditions and possibilities support or inhibit the continuance of postdoctoral researchers in the scientific system on a long-term basis. For this purpose, first it is necessary to analyse the frameworks, structures and governance elements of universities in Germany that influence the inclusion of those affected. In order to gain access to this sensible field of study, the next step is to conduct expert interviews with commissioners for disability, inclusion and gender equality as well as human resource managers. With the aid of those representatives, it is scheduled to make contact with postdoctoral researchers in order to conduct problem-centred interviews on dealing with disability and/or chronic disease and its coping with everyday work, structural barriers and concrete support services and support requirements. This provides an opportunity to explore the impact of disability and/or chronic disease on employment in higher education and thereby make a relevant research contribution to equal opportunities in academic qualification and career paths from the point of view of those affected.

Tabea Schroer

Topic of the thesis:

(Un-)known inequality? On the (de-)differentiation of belonging among students at a Grande École in times of internationalization

Since the early 2000s, the student body of the Grandes Écoles, the French Elite Universities, has changed due to new procedures governing the access to and preparation for these Schools. In my doctoral research project, I investigate the (de-) differentiation of belonging among students at a Parisian Grande École, i.e. the cultural categorization of human beings. The work focuses on the experiences students have, when studying at a Grande École. Making use of a methodical combination consisting of narrative biographical interviews and participant observation, constellations of belonging that become relevant when studying at a Grande École are investigated. Of special interest are the social categories that individuals connect to, in the setting of a Grande École.

Björn Seipelt

Topic of the thesis:

Promotion im LCSS Brückenprojekt „Projekt „Studienfachwahl: Determinanten, Prozesse und soziale Reproduktion“

Lisa Walther

Topic of the thesis: 

The Institutionalization of Officers for Appointment Procedures for Professorships at German Universities

Due to the legal framework as well as the importance of professorships for shaping university profiles, university leaders are concerned about the quality of appointment procedures and the legitimization of the personnel selection. One important element to ensure the quality of appointment procedures are formal appointment regulations. Besides these university-specific regulations German universities increasingly employ Officers for Appointment Procedures (OAPs) to monitor and ensure the quality of appointment procedures. However, OAPs are still not mandatory in most of the German states. The embedding of OAPs into the organizational structure and their responsibilities and duties vary since OAPs are treated differently in each university-specific appointment regulation.

The dissertation project aims to investigate why OAPs are increasingly becoming institutionalized as a new job position in the organizational structure of universities and how they shall contribute to the quality assurance of appointment procedures for professorships at German universities. The project draws on an analysis of higher education laws of all German federal states and university-specific appointment regulations. Additionally, expert interviews with OAPs will be conducted.