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Comparing reputation vs h-index rankings of doctoral programs

Thomas E. Smith (College of Social Work, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Tyler Edison Carter (College of Social Work, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Philip J. Osteen (College of Social Work, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Lisa S. Panisch (College of Social Work, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 5 February 2018

106

Abstract

Purpose

This study builds on previous investigations on the scholarship of social work faculty using h-index scores. The purpose of this paper is to compare two methods of determining the excellence of social work doctoral programs.

Design/methodology/approach

This study compared rankings in 75 social work doctoral programs using h-index vs the US News and World Report (USNWR) list. The accuracy of predicting scholarly productivity from USNWR rankings was determined by joint membership in the same quantile block. Information on USNWR rankings, h-index, years of experience, academic rank, and faculty gender were collected. Regression analysis was used in creating a predictive model.

Findings

Only 39 percent of USNWR rankings accurately predicted which programs had their reputation and scholarly productivity in the same rating block. Conversely, 41 percent of programs had reputations in a higher block than their scholarly productivity would suggest. The regression model showed that while h-index was a strong predictor of USNWR rank (b=0.07, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.08), additional variance was explained by the unique contributions of faculty size (b=0.01, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.02), college age (b=0.002, 95% CI: <0.001, 0.003), and location in the southeast (b=−0.22, 95% CI: −0.39, −0.06).

Originality/value

For many programs, reputation and scholarly productivity coincide. Other programs have markedly different results between the two ranking systems. Although mean program h-indices are the best predictor of USNWR rankings, caution should be used in making statements about inclusion in the “top 10” or “top 20” programs.

Keywords

Citation

Smith, T.E., Carter, T.E., Osteen, P.J. and Panisch, L.S. (2018), "Comparing reputation vs h-index rankings of doctoral programs", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 87-99. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-08-2017-0096

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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