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What we can learn from elite academic staff publication portfolios: a social network analysis

Grant, M, Lotto, RR and Jones, ID (2020) What we can learn from elite academic staff publication portfolios: a social network analysis. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 72 (4). pp. 605-624. ISSN 2050-3806

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Purpose: To construct an understanding of professional academic writing network structures to inform organisational strategic investment in academic staff development.

Design: Longitudinal social network analysis is used to examine the personal-networks evident in the publication portfolios of a purposive sample of four international academics across each quartile of the SCOPUS defined area of General Nursing’s Top 100 authors.

Findings: Trends in the publication portfolios of elite academics across gender, sector and geographic location are presented. In the first years of successful writing for publication authors collaborate within a single highly connected co-author network. This network will typically expand to include new co-authors, before additional separate co-author collaborations emerge (three- to four- years). Authors experience steady growth in co-author numbers four- to seven- years from first co-authored publication. After a period of rapid expansion, these collaborations coalesce into a smaller number of highly connected groups (eight- to ten- years). Most collaborations occur within the higher education sector and across multiple disciplines including medicine, social sciences and psychology. Male co-authors are disproportionately represented in what is a predominantly female profession.

Practical implications: The development of extended co-author networks, locally, internationally, and across the higher education sector, enable authors to attain the marker of achievement required by universities and government funding bodies, namely sustained output of academic publications. Identified trends support the inclusion of investment in academic time and resources in higher education institutions’ strategic and operational plans to enable academic staff to develop interdisciplinary professional networks. In focusing this investment on gender equality, female academics will experience parity of opportunity in achieving their organisational and personal goals relating to professional academic writing. Medium term investment may be required before the impact of that investment becomes apparent.

Originality/value: This is the first example of social network analysis used to determine characteristics of professional academic writing portfolios over time. Findings inform the type and range of investment required to facilitate academic staff writing activities, specifically those publishing in the area of General Nursing.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The AAM is deposited under the above licence and any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting permissions@emeraldinsight.com.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Publisher: Emerald
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2020 13:45
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2022 08:34
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13131
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