Academic journal article Social Work Research

Reputation and Publication Productivity among Social Work Researchers

Academic journal article Social Work Research

Reputation and Publication Productivity among Social Work Researchers

Article excerpt

This study examined the relationship between reputation and productivity among social work researchers. The authors devised a method to gauge reputational standing, using nominations from journal editors, research textbook authors, and heads of research-dedicated social work organizations. Productivity was measured by number of articles, number of books, number of book chapters, and number of citations in the social work literature. The study found that productivity rates varied consistently among the three reputational groups (based on number of nominations)in the expected direction. Within the high reputation group there were no differences in productivity levels. However, a wide range in productivity was found within each grouping. Various interpretations and implications of the results are offered.

Key words: citations; productivity; publishing; reputation; researchers

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Reputation operates as an unofficial purveyor of influence in social work, affecting appointments to boards and committees, named chairs, honorary titles, journal editorships, keynote address roles, and election to office at various levels of the profession. Individuals with elevated reputations significantly shape the course of the profession, either through their initiative or having that role placed on them. Reputation is a resource that influences the outcome of community politics (Gamson, 1966), and there is no reason to believe that reputation is less of a factor in the more subtle arena of professional politics.

Some studies have highlighted the interaction of reputation with attractiveness (Jones & Shrauger, 1970; Raub & Weesie, 1990), suggesting why high reputation individuals are selected by their colleagues to assume desirable roles. Studies of reputation in social work have focused predominately on graduate schools rather than on individuals, and rankings have been based on productivity. Productivity of social work researchers has been measured by journal article publication (Jayaratne, 1979; Thyer & Polk, 1997), article and book publication (Johnson & Hull, 1995), journal articles published differentially in social work and non-social work journals (Green & Secret, 1996), citations in the literature (Baker, 1990; Green & Hayden, 2001; Klein & Bloom, 1992), or some combination of these (and in other ways as well).

Some studies have shown changes in the standing of schools longitudinally over time (Corcoran & Kirk, 1990; Green, Kvarfordt, & Hayden, 1999; Ligon, Thyer, & Dixon, 1995). The best known, if frequently criticized, ranking of programs is done periodically by U.S. News and World Report, which rates professional schools, including social work, on their reputations as judged by deans and a few selected senior faculty. A recent study found that this magazine's ranking of the reputations of MSW programs was highly correlated with faculty productivity (Green, Baskind, & Bellin, 2002).

Although social work has focused on institutional reputation, other fields have attended to various aspects of individually based reputation and prestige (in dictionary definitions, reputation and prestige overlap along the dimensions of regard, esteem, respect, importance, and renown). The basis for an individual's reputation may vary by academic field (Clemens, Powell, Mcllwaine, & Okamoto, 1995). High regard in physics comes through the publication of journal articles; in history, book publication is the basis of distinction; and in sociology, both publication genres are generally respected. There has been little analysis on which pattern social work most approximates (Tucker, 1996).

Looking at the fields of chemistry, sociology, and political science, publication productivity is more important in disciplines with a "well-developed scientific paradigm," such as chemistry (Pfeifer, Leong, & Strehl, 1976). Another study found that quantity of publications--a reputational correlate--was considerably more important than various measures of quality of publications in predicting promotion up the ranks in university settings (Long, Allison, & McGinnis, 1993). …

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