Social work dissertation research: Contributing to scholarly discourse or the file drawer?

Brandy R. Maynard, Michael G. Vaughn, Christine M. Sarteschi, Andrew H. Berglund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The preparation and capacity of doctoral students to become stewards of the discipline by their contribution to research literature are critically important for the future of social work. The present study examined the publication and impact of social work dissertation research to assess whether and how dissertation research contributes to the body of knowledge. A random sample of 593 social work dissertation abstracts from dissertations published in ProQuest Dissertations and Abstracts between 1998 and 2008 from US member schools of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE) comprised the sample for this study. Searches in Google Scholar were conducted to locate published empirical peer-reviewed articles or books published from dissertation research. Citation counts were extracted and impact values (Impact Factor, h- and g-index) were utilised to examine dissertation impact. Findings indicate that a small proportion (28.8́ per cent) of social work dissertations were published. Those published seem to enter into the discourse of the social work discipline and other disciplinary fields as evidenced by publication in many higher-impact journals across disciplines. The overall lack of dissertation research being published suggests a significant failure of social work doctoral education. Implications and recommendations for the field are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1062
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for support from the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and the Institute of Education Sciences (grant R324B080008).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Social work dissertation research: Contributing to scholarly discourse or the file drawer?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this