Routes to Scholarly Success in Public Administration: Is There a Right Path?



The Successful Scholars Project examined the determinants of successful public administration scholars. We surveyed the top 89 public administration scholars alive today (nominated by leaders of five national organizations) and asked them to rank a set of characteristics and behaviors that may have helped them achieve their success. We then analyzed the curricula vitae of 63 of the scholars. This article reports our study's findings and the recommendations of our successful scholars. Scholars heralded good methodological training and quality mentoring as significant. For research, choosing important, cutting-edge issues to write about, not following fads, being oneself, and publishing quality works were touted as important. Presenting research at national conferences also was highly recommended (while chairing committees and serving as discussants were not). Most scholars recommended steering away from administrative positions and university politics. We conclude with lessons for budding public administration scholars as well as lessons for designing public administration doctoral programs.