Methods: The investigators began by assembling a sample of individual scholars at schools of social work using the Council on Social Work Education's comprehensive listing of accredited graduate programs. School websites listed by CSWE were reviewed for faculty interest in HIV/AIDS scholarship and coded for this presence. There were 279 HIV scholars identified within 118 graduate social work programs. Next, the Institute for Scientific Information's Web of Science was searched for each individual. When a listed scholar was identified, the entire entry including authorship, article title, journal title, date of publication and citation count to the publication was added to a research database.
Results: The operational definition of HIV/AIDS Scholar includes those individuals who had three or more publications identifiable in the ISI WOS database. This resulted in a decrease of the overall data set to 74 scholars found across 41 programs. The largest two schools of HIV/AIDS scholars have three scholars each which appear in the top 20. Using the 83 coauthored studies to identify scholar groups, two were identified accounting for over 50% of multiply authored publications in this dataset.
An analysis of the journal outlets in which HIV/AIDS scholars publish and the relative impact factors of these outlets were examined. The journal relative impact factor analysis revealed a core set of journals in which social work scholars publish with distinct differences between the two invisible colleges identified previously. There was no relationship between the average citations to this set of journals and the impact factors identified for the journal set.
Implications: A few programs and a few very productive scholars dominate this area of scholarship. The top 10 schools identified in our ranking produced 434 publications while the bottom ten produced 34, pointing out the imbalance in productivity. Of the 671 papers identified, the top twenty-scholars produced 62% of this total with 57 scholars producing the rest. The results of the study suggest productive work groups are comprised of a highly productive leader paired with a prominent collaborator and an extended group of six scholars. The study lends support to previous yields (Holden, Rosenberg and Barker, 2005) regarding the the limited utility of using journal impact factors.