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Increase in research productivity

Faculty research output at the Carroll School has increased over the last two years, according to a recent report developed by Philip Strahan, John L. Collins, S.J., Chair in Finance (above). The report measures productivity based on the number of articles published in “high-impact” journals and the number of citations per faculty member. The survey of research was the second conducted since the School implemented improvements in research support systems.  


According to Dean Andy Boynton, “Two things are fundamental to our success—teaching and research. We’ve been great at teaching and our research culture was on the path of ongoing improvement,” he says, “but we needed to energize it in a positive way and elevate our standards of excellence.” 


In 2006, Boynton established a committee to advocate for research within the School. The Research Support Committee (RSC) comprises Boynton and four faculty members who, according to Boynton, “represent top-flight researchers and great scholars across a breadth of disciplines:” Jean Bartunek, Robert A. and Evelyn J. Ferris Chair in Organization Studies; Professor of Operations Management Hossein Safizadeh; Associate Professor of Marketing and Distinguished Faculty Fellow Kathleen Seiders (marketing); and Strahan. Since its inception, the RSC has focused on increasing internal funding opportunities, adding financial and other supports for faculty, creating a benchmark measure of faculty research productivity, and expanding the quality and frequency of conversations about research. 


The Albert J. and Virginia M. Kelley Fellows Program Research Fund and the Research Catalyst Awards were established (the former by the family of past Carroll School Dean Albert J. Kelley) to provide additional funding for research. The Kelley fund makes awards of up to $10,000 to tenure-track junior faculty, while the Catalyst funds are for tenured faculty. Each faculty member also receives a research budget, and departmental travel budgets have been increased. 


The RSC established a mentoring process and a fourth-year review process for junior faculty. Mentors—who are assigned based on compatibility of interests—help guide assistant professors’ professional development. The fourth-year review process helps benchmark professional progress and creates transparency as faculty approach tenure review. 


Gergana Yordanova Nenkov, assistant professor of marketing, has received two Kelley awards, which, she says, not only “have significantly helped me advance my research agenda,” but also, “thanks to the Kelley Research Award was I able to conduct exciting new research” (exploring the effect that two important emotions, hope and hopefulness, have on investment decisions, using neuroimaging). She also credits the mentoring process with helping her sustain and develop her research stream. 


All faculty may receive assistance from research statistician Steve Lacey, who holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan and previously was a research and evaluation associate at Brown University’s Education Alliance. Every two years, Lacey runs the faculty productivity report developed by Strahan. 


Professor of Finance Alan Marcus says, “The research culture here at BC has been improving for several years now with additional resources available for both data collection as well as direct funding to support research projects, the addition of Steve Lacy, and new hires that have led to more collaboration and discussions about research.” (See "Reading list" for more about hiring at the Carroll School.) 


Bartunek thinks it’s essential and unique that, in addition to new funding and supports, a concerted effort is underway to make research part of the daily conversation. A weekly e-mail alerts faculty to all research-related talks and presentations occurring at the School. In addition, every semester there are faculty-wide meetings where faculty members share and discuss their research with members of other departments. “We are trying to develop the importance of research that makes it a community-building activity rather than a sole individual and potentially competitive activity. That’s not a standard approach.” 


“Andy and the committee have enlivened conversations about research and given new vigor to some people’s research careers,” says Bartunek. “[The work of the committee] has clarified research expectations, which had not always been so precise. It has raised the bar of what good research means. I think it has gotten people excited about their research contributions.”


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