Methods: Among early career social work faculty members, we conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study to determine correlates of scholarly productivity. The online survey queried respondents’ demographics, family life, publication record, and relationship with their dissertation chairperson(s) during their PhD programs. Eligibility included participants who (1) held a PhD degree in social work, (2) were hired as faculty between January 2014-December 2016, and (3) secured a tenure-track position with the current title of Assistant Professor in the top 236 ranked social work programs by the US News Education 2016 Report. An online survey was sent to eligible participants (n=593) in March 2018. This study analyzed participants who completed the survey as of April 2018 (n=35). For replication purposes with Long’s (1997) study, descriptive and bivariate analysis were conducted.
Results: The current sample is predominantly female (94%), white (71%), and US citizens (94%).Two-thirds began their PhD programs in a serious cohabitating relationship, and this increased to 81.6% by graduation. The majority had no children under age six (61%) or over age seven (82%) upon graduation. Prior to admittance to their PhD program, about 30% of participants knew their mentors before they joined the PhD programs. Eleven percent had at least one first-authored publication (median 0, range 0-2), and 29% had at least one coauthored publication (median 0, range 0-3). Upon graduation, the median number of first authored and coauthored publications was both two (range 0-8, mode 1) and (range 0-10, mode 2), respectively.
Unlike Long’s (1997) study, gender and family life status was not associated with scholarly productivity. Yet, the mentorship relationship and the number of peer-reviewed journal articles co-published with their chairperson was associated with the number of student’s first-authored (r=.42, p=.013) and total number (r=.44, p=.009) of papers published during the PhD program.
Implications: Preliminary findings suggest drivers of early career productivity among social work faculty might differ from those of biochemistry students. Lack of influence of gender or family size may be explained by more supportive environments within social work doctoral programs; given the predominate female representation in such programs, greater emphasis may be placed on incorporating work-life balance and familial supports. The importance of mentorship is also underscored. Planned additional analyses includes multivariate negative binomial regression analysis with a larger sample size.