Research in Higher Education

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 211-225

First online:

What characterizes a productive research department?

  • Leonard L. BairdAffiliated withDepartment of Higher Education, University of Kentucky

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The correlates of average departmental annual research journal publication rates of faculty were examined in three disciplines: chemistry, history, and psychology. Variables studied included factual information about each department, faculty perceptions and ratings, and graduate students' perceptions and ratings. Content included academic programs, specific policies and practices, characteristics of students, faculty, facilities, etc., as well as the quality of teaching and human relations in the departments. Although the common results indicated the importance of able faculty and students, a strong emphasis on research and the provision of time and funds for faculty to pursue research, there were discipline-specific patterns of results. In chemistry the pattern of productive departments suggested large research laboratories, in history a scholarly apprenticeship approach, and in psychology an emphasis on research over practice. Discipline specific studies may be the best approach to understanding research productivity.