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An Investigation of Professional Networks and Scholarly Productivity of Early Career Physical Therapy Faculty

Becker, Betsy J., DPT, PhD; Sayles, Harlan, MS; Woehler, Meredith, PhD; Rost, Tony, SPT; Willett, Gilbert M., PT, PhD, MS

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: June 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 94–102
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000094
Research Report

Introduction and Review of the Literature. Physical therapy (PT) faculty must retain a scholarly agenda. Active engagement and dissemination are challenging, especially for new faculty. Evidence suggests that faculty professional networks can improve performance and innovation. The aim of this study was to determine an effective network structure and composition for scholarly activity of early career PT faculty.

Subjects. Early career faculty (less than 5 years of experience) with primary teaching and service/administrative duties who worked in accredited entry-level PT programs from institutions of varying Carnegie Classification levels. Data from 50 faculty were analyzed.

Methods. Subject questionnaires gathered data for social network analysis (visualization and calculation of network structure and composition). Participants' scholarly activity was determined by curriculum vitae analyses. Multivariable ordinary least squares regression models were developed to determine associations between networks and scholarly productivity.

Results. The results show evidence that a more open, less interconnected (ie, low density) network is associated with higher scholarly activity when controlling for the duration as a faculty member and whether the individual has an academic doctoral degree.

Discussion and Conclusion. Key implications from this study include 1) faculty can be productive in their first 5 years regardless of their institution's Carnegie Classification, days on the job, and achievement of an academic doctoral degree; 2) an effective network for scholarly productivity is one that is open and less densely interconnected; and 3) there are practical strategies faculty and their mentors can take to make networks more effective.

Betsy J. Becker is an associate professor and Program Director of the Division of Physical Therapy Education in the College of Allied Health Professions at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, 984420 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-4420 ( Please address all correspondence to Betsy J. Becker

Harlan Sayles is a Statistician III in the Department of Biostatistics in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Meredith Woehler is an assistant professor of Management in the School of Business at Portland State University.

Tony Rost is a third year Doctor of Physical Therapy student in the Division of Physical Therapy Education in the College of Allied Health Professions at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Gilbert Willett is an associate professor in the School of Dentistry at Creighton University.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received September 05, 2018

Received in revised form December 04, 2018

Accepted December 05, 2018

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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