Baylor University's 2012 commitment to building strong, research-intensive graduate programs is producing impressive results in a relatively short time. The university significantly enhanced its graduate student stipends, which resulted in an increasing number of high-scoring graduate students seeking doctoral degrees at Baylor. And now, national data from Academic Analytics shows that the scholarly productivity for many of Baylor's graduate faculty - in fields ranging from physics, political science and preventive health to religion, sociology and philosophy - is among the strongest in the nation.
Founded in 2005, Academic Analytics compiles and provides objective, analytical data on faculty productivity, including the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index (FSP Index), which measures the scholarly productivity of faculty using their book and journal publications, journal article citations, federally-funded research grants and academic awards, and the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Database (FSP Database), a quantitative method for ranking doctoral programs at research universities.
Baylor began using Academic Analytics two years ago, when it became increasingly clear that the long-delayed decennial rankings of doctoral programs by the National Research Council (NRC) would be insufficient for its needs.
"Much of NRC data will be four or five years old by the time it is released, and for relatively new, relatively small programs like Baylor's, the time lag was too long," said Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for Institutional Effectiveness at Baylor. "We have been actively improving our doctoral programs each year through strategic hires and increased support for faculty research, so we need recent data and annual updates."
Baylor's Interim Provost Elizabeth Davis approved the subscription to the Academic Analytics database and noted that it is increasingly used among the Big 12 universities.
"All research universities need reliable assessments of doctoral programs," Davis said. "They represent major investments in faculty and student resources, and the return on that investment needs to be demonstrated, and in our case, the return on the investment is, in many cases, coming in sooner and stronger than anticipated."
Several Ph.D. programs that were launched or grew rapidly during 2012 have already joined the nation's best, according to Academic Analytics.
Philosophy, which did not begin recruiting doctoral students until 2004, is ranked No. 18 nationally out of 112 doctoral programs in philosophy in the Academic Analytics database. Political science and sociology, two other relatively new doctoral programs at Baylor, were in the top quartile of all Ph.D. programs in their respective fields.
Lyon said that while he knew Baylor faculty already were nationally recognized in these fields, this objective assessment of scholarly productivity was still affirming.
"These rankings are based on the faculty's number of books, journal articles, citations, grants and academic awards," Lyon said. "Our faculty, when compared on the same measures to all graduate faculty at all doctoral programs across the nation, are among the most productive."
"This remarkable transition has been catalyzed by a lot of hard work from both existing and new faculty collaborating across disciplines to the benefit of our students," said Dr. Lee C. Nordt, professor of geology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor. "Baylor is becoming known not only as a disseminator of information but as an institution of discovery."
Baylor doctoral programs that have long been in existence also have scored notable rankings with Academic Analytics.
Religion, long a premier Ph.D. program at Baylor, ranked No. 18 nationally. Physics has moved rapidly upward, now ranking higher than 60 percent of all physics doctoral programs.