The Impact of Doctoral Research in Information Science and Librarianship

Publication as Impact

Perhaps it should not be considered surprising, but not all of the DfE award-holders from 1981 to 1991 have produced many publications related to their area of doctoral research. Of those who have published, not all have been cited. However, at the other end of the scale -- even among the small sample of fifteen award-holders who could be located for this project -- are those with substantial numbers of publications, the impact of which can be demonstrated by very impressive arrays of citations throughout the world.

What follows in this section is an analysis of the award-holders' publications, i.e. their number and type, taking into consideration the year of Ph.D. completion and the nature of the position held (assuming that those in academic posts would be expected to publish more). A description of the extent to which the award-holders have been cited, resulting from a citation analysis of those publications which were considered to be directly relevant to their doctoral research, is given in the next section.

At the top of the scale, in terms of publication output, is a Lecturer who completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield in 1989. Currently Lecturer in Management at the University of Cambridge, his c.v. lists a total of 70 publications all but one of which have appeared within the time from 1989 to 1996. These include two books, two chapters in edited books, nineteen refereed journal articles (eighteen as sole or first author), eleven case studies and other teaching materials (ten as sole author), nine refereed conference papers (seven as sole author, one as first author), seventeen working and discussion papers (thirteen as sole or first author), five internal company reports (all as sole or first author), and five other publications as sole author plus eight book reviews.

Since the object of this project is to examine specifically the impact of doctoral research, many of the publications of this highly productive Lecturer had to be considered as not directly relevant. This includes all of the case studies and other teaching materials, for example, as well as the working discussion papers and the internal company reports. It could certainly be argued that, had the author not undertaken his Ph.D. research, he would not have been able to obtain his present post and none of these publications might have been produced. Nevertheless in this particular case, where both the research interests of the award-holder appear to have expanded considerably beyond the topic of his doctoral research and many of his publications (e.g. the case studies) would seem to be teaching-related, just seventeen of the seventy publications have been chosen as directly relevant.

Another impressive record of publications has been achieved by a Senior Lecturer who completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield in 1987 and holds his current post in this department. His c.v. lists a total of forty-seven publications including three books, five chapters in books (one in press), thirty papers in refereed journals (seventeen as sole author, ten as first author), five papers in refereed conference proceedings, three research reports, and one other publication plus numerous book reviews. Of the forty-seven, he has indicated that twenty (nineteen as sole author) are directly relevant to the topic of his doctoral research.

The two records above are clear evidence of the wide-ranging impact of doctoral research through subsequent publication. When one thinks of all the possible readers of these publications - in two quite different fields, in the UK and around the world - the potential effect is very powerful indeed. The publication records may seem especially outstanding when compared with those to date of the other four award-holders in the project sample who currently hold academic posts. Of the remaining two Senior Lecturers, one who completed his Ph.D. at Sheffield in 1990 lists one journal article (of which he is first author) as relevant to his doctoral research. The second, who completed her Ph.D. at Aston University in 1993, lists four relevant publications including three journal articles (two as first author) and one co-authored book chapter. The third academic, currently a Lecturer who completed her Ph.D. at Sheffield in 1993, lists her relevant publications as one book and seven journal articles (all as sole author) four of which appeared before her doctoral work was completed. The fourth and most recent of the academics, currently an Assistant Professor in a university abroad, is a 1995 Ph.D. graduate of Sheffield who, although she has given papers relevant to her doctoral research at several conferences and seminars, has had only one of these papers published so far in conference proceedings.

Another award-holder who has been a Lecturer (now Research Fellow and occasional lecturer) received her Ph.D. from the City University, London in 1994. Since that time she has built up a list of twenty-two publications and reports (six as sole author, ten as first author), six of which she has marked as directly related to her doctoral research.

The recent Ph.D.s who continue to hold their Post-doctoral Research Fellowships are quickly establishing strong records of publication. One, a 1994 graduate of University of Wales, Aberystwyth now with a DfEE Fellowship, lists six publications (three as sole author, three as first author) directly relevant to her doctoral research, all but one since 1994. She has also presented papers at several conferences. The second, a 1995 graduate of the University of Sunderland, lists eleven publications including eight papers in conference proceedings (one as sole author, seven as first author) and three occasional papers (all as sole author). Four of these publications have appeared in 1995-1996.

Turning now to the award-holders whose careers tend to classify them more as "practitioners," there are again very interesting variations in publication activity. One of this group, a 1992 Ph.D. graduate of Sheffield, has achieved a record which can be considered outstanding. This is so especially since, as she indicates, her doctoral research is of little or no relevance in her current post as Academic Support Officer. She lists thirteen publications, six as first author (though in this group of scientific authors the practice has been to list each in alphabetical order, and one has a surname beginning with the letter "A"). Although such a publication record is impressive for a relatively recent Ph.D. in a "non-academic" career, its full impact will be revealed by the citation analysis later in this report.

An earlier award-holder, now a computer scientist who completed his Ph.D. in the area of natural language processing at Cambridge University in 1986, has four publications including a book version of his thesis, two journal articles and a conference paper.

A 1991 graduate of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, now a library OPAC developer, has published four refereed articles relevant to her doctoral research (two as sole author, two as first author), two conference papers (both as first author), and two other publications. A 1991 graduate of Aston University, now a Principal Management Information Officer, indicates that he has three publications which appeared during the time of his doctoral research. A 1993 graduate of Sheffield University, now a Development Consultant, has had one article published.

The only questionnaire respondent who has not yet completed his Ph.D. (i.e., who is currently an award-holder) lists no publications at this time.

Mary Dykstra Lynch and T.D. Wilson©British Library Board 1997