Academic Topographies A Network Analysis of Disciplinarity Among Communication Faculty

Authors

  • WILLIAM J. WHITE

    Corresponding author
    1. William J. White is a doctoral candidate in the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies at Rutgers University.
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  • I want to thank my advisor, Ron Rice, whose network analysis class provided the initial impetus for this article. His helpful comments on several successive drafts of this article as well as his support and encouragement were indispensable. He is a trusted assessor nonpareil. I also want to thank Dave Petroski for helping to code faculty attributes, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

Department of Communication, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08903; phone: (732) 932-8512; e-mail: whitew@scils.ruteers.edu.

Abstract

This study draws on the tenets ofstructuration theory and the methodological prescriptions of Archer to examine how theoretical and paradigmatic differences among interdisciplinary faculty are reflected in the ongoing work of their school. It uses network analyses of Ph.D. committee participation from 1984 to 1995 among 29 faculty members of a school with departments of communication, journalism, and library and information science to assess how organizational and cognitive structures serve to constrain or pattern the cohesion of faculty members. The analyses presented here are used to develop a “snapshot” of a scholarly community undergoing incremental change over time. Analysis reveals the presence of two groups of faculty whose members coparticipate more cohesively within themselves than between groups. The sources of the division include the structure of departments within the school as well as the levels of analysis and research traditions enacted by faculty. The study constructively replicates similar analyses.

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