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Comparing research productivity of social work doctoral programs using the h-index


The purpose of the study was to examine the productivity of faculty in social work doctoral programs. This study builds on previous investigations on the scholarship of social work faculty using the h-index (i.e., citation analysis). This study examined the scholarly productivity of the full population (N = 1699) of tenure-track faculty in all 76 United States social work doctoral programs by analyzing the h-index scores of each program. Information on funding sources, regional location, year of establishment, and faculty demographics was collected to better understand why faculty and programs differ in their h-index. A hierarchical regression analysis was used in creating a predictive model.

The final model explained 51% of the variance in h-index scores (R² = .51). Academic rank was the strongest predictor of school h-index. Each school’s faculty size, gender proportion, region, college age, and auspice also contributed to the predictive power of the model. The proportion of senior faculty (associate professors and full professors) and college age were the strongest predictors based on standardized regression coefficients. The finding that academic rank contributed the most variance to the regression model provides empirical support to the long-argued importance of publication in career advancement.

The overall results of the model confirm that institutional factors such as faculty size, region, and auspice do have unique effects on research productivity even after accounting for individual level differences in faculty across diverse social work programs.


Smith, T. E., Jacobs, K. S., Osteen, P. J., & Carter, T. E. (2018). Comparing research productivity of social work doctoral programs using the h-index. Scientometric, 116(3), pp. 1513-1530.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23