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Posted 07.20.07


Study Finds More Women Publishing Communications Research

COLUMBIA, MO - In academia, the discipline of communication has changed significantly, according to University of Missouri-Columbia researchers. Once an area of instruction dominated by men at the university level, today a greater number of women are conducting research. The findings are based on a study examining the number of females who publish communication articles in academic journals.

Michael Kramer, professor and chair of the Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science, reached the conclusion - which is one of several - after reviewing publication trends of four major communication journals over a 70-year period. The journals were Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, the Journal of Applied Communication Research and Journal of Communication. Jon A. Hess, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the department, and Loren D. Reid, professor emeritus, collaborated on the study. Reid, who is now 102, began publishing in communication journals in the 1930s.

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The study is important, Kramer said, because it highlights the demands of research productivity, which influences promotion and tenure decisions in communication departments nationwide. It also provides a microcosm of how academe standards change over a long period of time. Among the findings:

  • (More female authors) From the 1930s-60s, there weren't many female authors. In the 70s and 80s, there was a slight increase, and that trend continued during the 90s. Around 2000, articles by women authors outnumbered those by men in the four journals.
  • (More multi-authored articles) There has been a sharp decrease in the number of single-authored articles. From the 1930s through mid-60s, approximately 85 percent of the articles were by single authors. That statistic dropped to 51 percent from the mid-60s through early 90s. Since that period, only 19 percent of all articles were single authored.
  • (Longer articles) The length of articles has increased - reflecting writing changes over time, more sources for research and increased citations, for example, to avoid allegations of plagiarism.

Kramer said the increase in multi-authored articles is significant - regardless of gender. He said the trend makes it difficult to assess the ability of job candidates to conduct independent research because an increasing number of aspiring faculty members has never been lead author of an article. Furthermore, the changing trend can be problematic for new hires if promotion and tenure committees, operating in traditional manners, expect single-authored articles.

The study, "Trends in Communication Scholarship: An Analysis of Four Representative NCA and ICA Journals over the last 70 Years," was published in the June/July issue of The Review of Communication.



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