Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

An Inter-Disciplinary Comparison of Publishing Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

An Inter-Disciplinary Comparison of Publishing Performance

Article excerpt


Faculty performance has long been gauged in academics by the frequency and quality of published journal articles. Annual merit reviews, promotion to higher ranks, and the granting of tenure are all tied to this criteria. Within each academic discipline, there is broad consensus on the number and quality of published articles that rank as meritorious. Judgements on the quality of journals is generally not a problem at this level, since departmental peers tend to be well-informed about the stature of academic publications in their own fields.

A problem arises however, in the assessment of publication performance outside a faculty member's own field of expertise. At many schools, assessments of performance are made by committees at the departmental, college and university levels. There tends to be general agreement within departments as to what constitutes a "sufficient" number of publications to justify tenure or promotion. As indicated earlier, colleagues within a department tend to be well-informed about both the stature of academic publications in their own field as well as what constitutes a reasonable quantity of such output. This is less true at the college level. Within a College of Science for example, a Mathematics professor is likely not to be familiar with journals in Biology. This problem is compounded even further when review committees are constituted at the university level. With professors drawn from fields as diverse as Nuclear Physics and Music, the judgement of performance across different disciplines is an arduous undertaking.

This article attempts to make such judgments easier by providing a comparison of the average number of articles published within each faculty rank for four different kinds of schools over the twenty-one year period from 1969 to 1989 for a large number of disciplines. This study is unique in that such an interdepartmental comparison of publication frequency has not previously been made in any published study. Studies abound on related issues such as the relative quality of economics departments based on the number and quality of publications produced by them. (1) Similarly a number of authors have ranked journals by their quality. (2) In this article, the average number of articles published by faculty (of different ranks) at four different kinds of academic institutions is listed for a wide variety of disciplines. These listings should provide Promotion and Tenure Committees with a means to compare publication performance across different departments.


The data used in this article have been drawn from six national surveys of college faculty in the United States (1969, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1988, and 1989). The 1969, 1984, 1988 and 1989 surveys were carried out by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The 1972 data are from Teaching Faculty in Academe 1972-73, originally collected by the American Council of Education, and made available by the Inter University Consortium for Political and Social Research. The 1977 data are from The 1977 Survey of the American Professoriate conducted by Ladd and Lipset.

Tables 3-8, displayed at the end of this article, list the average number of published articles for four types of academic institutions as categorized by the Carnegie Foundation: Research, Doctoral, Comprehensive and Liberal Arts. Junior Colleges, a fifth classification was not used in this article since the structure of rewards at such institutions is usually not based on research output. At each of these four kinds of institutions, faculty were classified by the traditional three ranks: Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors. Lecturers, Instructors, Adjunct Faculty, etc. were eliminated from the data since the irregular nature of such positions precludes them from being active participants in customary faculty roles (other than teaching). The average number of articles published for each rank within each of the four kinds of academic institutions was computed for each of the academic disciplines reported in the six data sets. …

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