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Publishing Patterns in Interdisciplinary Community Engagement Journals, 1990-2015

Since the early 1990s, the public call for increased community engagement by institutions of higher education has been paralleled by faculty member demands for peer-reviewed journals that publish high quality articles about community engaged scholarship and the scholarship of engagement.

This study explored the overarching research question: What are the publishing patterns in the main interdisciplinary community engaged scholarship journals? More specifically, the study addressed these three questions:

  1. What types of articles are published in the community engagement journals?
  2. Who is publishing in theses journals?
  3. How rigorous is the research published in the community engagement journals?

Researchers with MSU’s National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement analyzed publishing patterns in community engagement journals from 1990-2015. Data about the authors and their institutions came from their articles, IPEDS, and Carnegie Classification database. A rigor score for community-engaged research articles was determined by coding five elements (foundations, design, measurement, inferences, and consequences) on a three point scale.

Researchers found that two thirds of the authors publishing in these journals were tenure track faculty and that most authors were from the fields of public administration, education, and the social sciences. Fully tenured faculty published the most. 58% of the articles were authored by one scholar. Of those that were authored by more than one person, the author teams crossed disciplines 59%, crossed institutions 53%, and included community partners 32% of the time. First authors were most often from public, research institutions (very high and high designations) with enrollments over 10,000 and had received the elective Carnegie Engagement Classification. Rigor varied across the journals. 


  • MSU Libraries—Interlibrary Loan Department


Diane Doberneck

Director for Faculty and Professional Development, Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Community Sustainability

Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship