"Are you gonna publish that?" Peer-reviewed publication outcomes of doctoral dissertations in psychology
KeywordsBiology and Life Sciences
Database and Informatics Methods
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AbstractIf a doctoral dissertation represents an original investigation that makes a contribution to one’s field, then dissertation research could, and arguably should, be disseminated into the scientific literature. However, the extent and nature of dissertation publication remains largely unknown within psychology. The present study investigated the peer-reviewed publication outcomes of psychology dissertation research in the United States. Additionally, we examined publication lag, scientific impact, and variations across subfields. To investigate these questions, we first drew a stratified random cohort sample of 910 psychology Ph.D. dissertations from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Next, we conducted comprehensive literature searches for peer-reviewed journal articles derived from these dissertations published 0–7 years thereafter. Published dissertation articles were coded for their bibliographic details, citation rates, and journal impact metrics. Results showed that only one-quarter (25.6% [95% CI: 23.0, 28.4]) of dissertations were ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals, with significant variations across subfields (range: 10.1 to 59.4%). Rates of dissertation publication were lower in professional/applied subfields (e.g., clinical, counseling) compared to research/academic subfields (e.g., experimental, cognitive). When dissertations were published, however, they often appeared in influential journals (e.g., Thomson Reuters Impact Factor M = 2.84 [2.45, 3.23], 5-year Impact Factor M = 3.49 [3.07, 3.90]) and were cited numerous times (Web of Science citations per year M = 3.65 [2.88, 4.42]). Publication typically occurred within 2–3 years after the dissertation year. Overall, these results indicate that the large majority of Ph.D. dissertation research in psychology does not get disseminated into the peer-reviewed literature. The non-publication of dissertation research appears to be a systemic problem affecting both research and training in psychology. Efforts to improve the quality and “publishability” of doctoral dissertation research could benefit psychological science on multiple fronts.
Evans, Spencer C., Christina M. Amaro, Robyn Herbert, Jennifer B. Blossom, and Michael C. Roberts. 2018. “"Are you gonna publish that?" Peer-reviewed publication outcomes of doctoral dissertations in psychology.” PLoS ONE 13 (2): e0192219. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0192219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192219.