Charting the Community Psychology Landscape: A New Ranking System for Research Output

Reference: Ruesink, L., & Jason, L. A. (2023). Ranking the community psychology research output of institutions and authors: A new system of evaluating the field. Journal of Community Psychology.

Summarized by Ellen Parry Luff

About the Study:

Researchers use various research methods to explore the contributions of the community psychology field. They use genealogical methods and content analysis to track the field. Another method they utilize involves examining journal publications, which includes analyzing citations and article publication rates. However, while these methods expanded scholars’ understanding of the field, they can also be labor-intensive and time-consuming. As such, this study proposes a more efficient ranking system to assess the impact of settings and individual research output in community psychology. This method is done through a quantity-based ranking using information from databases, such as Web of Science and Scopus, as well as the Society for Community Research and Action’s (SCRA) list of graduate programs.

Key Findings:

  • Top ten institutions in terms of publications and citations: University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan State University, DePaul University, Arizona State University, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, New York University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of South Carolina.
  • Top ten authors in terms of publications and citations: Leonard A. Jason, Emory Cowen, Raymond P. Lorion, Abraham Wandersman, Marc A. Zimmerman, Edison J. Trickett, Douglas D. Perkins, Geoffrey Nelson, Paul A. Toro, and Irwin Sandler.
  • The study revealed that only 50% of the top 20 settings with the highest publication and citation rates in community psychology had formal community psychology graduate programs. Additionally, the relationships between having a SCRA-listed community psychology graduate program and article publications and citations were not significant.
  • White men tend to be the most published and cited authors in the community psychology field.
  • Findings also show that the Midwest and Northeast, as well as California, were home to the most institutions with high numbers of publications and citations.

Implications for Mentoring:

One of the implications of these findings is that a lot of the training around community psychology may be happening through informal pathways or related training programs, such as in counseling psychology and social work. While some people may interpret this as showing that there is no need for community psychology training programs to push the field forward, the authors argue that there is still a need for these programs to produce academics who will work in settings without a training program. Importantly, the authors argue that their findings and the system they used to rank publications and citations could help institutions justify the creation or continuation of a community psychology training program in the current academic atmosphere of under-enrollment and budget cuts. Overall, the authors argue that this system, through the use of Web of Science and/or Scopus, could help measure the contributions of community psychology and thus help both researchers and practitioners understand where the field is headed.

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