Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Win Friends and Influence People to Boost Research Productivity

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Win Friends and Influence People to Boost Research Productivity

Article excerpt

Age, gender and teaching load 'have little impact' on number of papers written. Matthew Reisz reports.

Motivation and the ability to network have a far greater impact on research productivity than age, gender, job satisfaction, managerial support or teaching load.

That is the central conclusion of work by researchers from University College Dublin led by Jonathan Drennan, lecturer in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.

Dr Drennan's team looked at the responses of almost 11,000 full-time academics from 12 European countries assembled for the Changing Academic Profession survey and the more recent data obtained by the Academic Profession in Europe: Responses to Societal Challenges (EUROAC) project.

After defining "research productivity" as "the number of publications in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters completed" over a three-year period, the team set out to analyse the demographic, academic and institutional variables that best predict the high and low performers.

Although time spent working on research was unsurprisingly linked with research productivity, "teaching or administrative workloads were not found to be predictors across any of the 12 countries", according to a paper presented at the Higher Education and Social Change Final Conference in Berlin last month.

Job satisfaction and institutional factors such as "managerial support, managerial style (communication and collegiality) and infrastructural support related to research" seemed to matter only in a small minority of countries, while both age and gender were dwarfed by other factors.

Far more significant in predicting whether someone was likely to generate a steady stream of papers were "a stated preference for research over teaching and involvement in the wider research community".

Such involvement, as witnessed by "peer reviewing, membership of scientific committees and editorial positions", turned out to be "the only predictor evident across all countries and the strongest predictor for publication productivity in eight countries". …

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