Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Results of the Doctoral Faculty Publication Project: Journal Article Productivity and Its Correlates in the 1990s

Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Results of the Doctoral Faculty Publication Project: Journal Article Productivity and Its Correlates in the 1990s

Article excerpt

THE FACULTIES of doctorate-granting educational institutions have historically provided scholarly leadership within the American professions and academic disciplines (Bowen & Rudenstine, 1992; Corcoran & Kirk, 1990; Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education, 1992; Webster & Skinner, 1996). In addition to other duties and responsibilities, these educators share the specialized mission of preparing students to develop, verify, and disseminate professional and academic knowledge. Consequently, the scholarly achievements of the faculties of such diverse professions and disciplines as business, education, nursing, law, medicine, psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and numerous interdisciplinary specialties have been periodically monitored, examined, and assessed. The scholarly activities of these faculty members are diverse and multidimensional. A variety of different measures and indicators--books and book chapters, publications in professional journals, publications in other sources, research funding, presentations at conferences, and individual awards and honors--have been used to assess faculty scholarship (Barnett et al., 1998; DeMeuse, 1987; Garand & Graddy, 1999; Green, Hutchison, & Sar, 1992; Knapp, 1997; Niemi, 1988).

Articles published in peer-reviewed professional journals, however, continue to be the single most frequently recognized, utilized, and reliable measures of faculty scholarship (Bloom & Klein, 1995; Corcoran & Kirk, 1990; Gibbs & Locke, 1989; Green et al., 1992). As Corcoran and Kirk (1990) have concluded, there are at least five reasons for the continuing prominence and reliance on journal articles as indicators of faculty scholarship in social work and other professions and academic disciplines:

   First, as data, articles are readily available to anyone who has access to
   a university library. Second, unlike respondents in surveys or subjects in
   experiments, articles are non-reactive and do not change from situation to
   situation over time. A manuscript, once published, remains the same
   forever, if not in anyone's memory, at least on an obscure shelf in the
   library. Third, as artifacts of scholarship, articles can be studied with
   an attractive degree of objectivity. Fourth, when studying such topics as
   the gender or affiliation of authors, or the presence or absence of
   quantified data in an article, the reliability among coders is usually very
   high. Fifth, articles constitute a finite population and, since all of them
   can be examined, conclusions can be based on actual observed differences
   rather than on inferential statistics. (p. 311)

To evaluate social work's research productivity and the relationship between the profession's research and practice at the end of the 1980s, therefore, it was not surprising that the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) Task Force on Social Work Research paid particular attention to the journal articles published by the faculties and graduates of institutions granting social work doctoral degrees (Task Force, 1991). Task Force findings about the productivity of these faculties and their former students, however, were surprising to many and stimulated a considerable amount of comment and discussion within the profession (Austin, 1992; Austin, 1998; Ewalt, 1995). Indeed, the results of this investigation suggested a social work "publication paradox's: the faculties of the majority of social work schools with doctoral programs had not demonstrated expected patterns of scholarly leadership in the 1980s. Indeed, substantial patterns of research scholarship and development were observed among a single top tier of institutions comprised of 10-12 faculties. These faculties were rated at one of the two highest categories of a proposed five-point continuum of research development. Approximately 10-15 schools, whose productivity was rated below that of the first group, were presumed to occupy a second tier. …

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