Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Factors Related to Faculty Research Productivity and Implications for Academic Planners: Planners Must Align the Emphasis on Research and Scholarly Products with the Overall Institutional Mission

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Factors Related to Faculty Research Productivity and Implications for Academic Planners: Planners Must Align the Emphasis on Research and Scholarly Products with the Overall Institutional Mission

Article excerpt

Introduction

Scrutiny over faculty allocations of time and subsequent outcomes is frequent in postsecondary education, especially at state research universities (those that receive appropriations from the state). Particularly during economic downturns, college officials and legislators must make difficult choices in fund allocation. For this reason, faculty workload and productivity continue to be highly debated issues, both within higher education institutions and legislative circles. The focus on research is particularly strong at research universities, but it is also growing in emphasis at other four-year colleges. Toma (2008) cautions that officials at some institutions may see an increased emphasis on research productivity as a way to increase rankings or other indicators of prestige. Because of the continued or increasing emphasis on both research production and institutional policies that encourage faculty research, a greater understanding of research productivity is important for academic planners today.

Because faculty productivity is a complex mix of individual and environmental characteristics, the study described in this article includes a broad set of contributor individual and institutional variables and also examines interactions among some of the variables. To date, only a few empirical studies have examined the contributors to faculty research productivity using the most recent national set of data available on postsecondary faculty in the United States, the 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04). The study described herein is significant because it accounts for the nested nature of the data using a hierarchical generalized linear model and examines six separate factors of research productivity. Using the generalized model allows us to address the non-normal distribution of count data, which then enables us to examine the contribution of individual characteristics nested within the context of institutional characteristics. Thus, this examination enables us to expand our understanding of the factors that contribute to faculty research productivity in four-year colleges and universities and consider the implications for academic planning and practice.

Purpose of this Study

Although some previous attention has been given to faculty productivity, we do not yet have a complete understanding of the differences that exist across discipline and institutional type for faculty today. Data available from NSOPF:04 allow us to extend our understanding of six different measures of faculty productivity that vary in emphasis across discipline based on a nationally representative sample of college faculty. Specifically, the following four questions are addressed in this study:

1. What individual factors contribute to research productivity; namely, how do rank, gender, race, marital status, having children, percentage of time spent on research, and credit hours generated from teaching contribute?

2. Are there interactions between gender, marital status, dependent children, and discipline?

3. What institutional factors influence research productivity; namely, does the proportion of time allocated to teaching versus research influence productivity? and

4. Do these differences occur by discipline and type of institution?

Method

The data used for this study include over 9,300 records from the NSOPF:04 database. Non-tenure-track and part-time faculty are excluded, and the weighting procedure available in the data set for all faculty is used. The weighted sample represents over 300,000 faculty members in nearly 1,200 four-year colleges and universities. Institutions are grouped into three categories: doctoral-extensive; doctoral-intensive; and bachelor's and master's (grouped in one category). Data elements for ratio of FTE students to faculty, public/private status, research expenditures, and total expenditures are obtained from the NSOPF:04 Institutional Questionnaire. …

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