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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Social Network Analysis of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Special Issue in Educational Research and Practice


Introduction: Scholarship and academic networking are essential for promotion and productivity. To develop education scholarship, the Council of Emergency Medicine Directors (CORD) and Clerkship Directors of Emergency Medicine (CDEM) created an annual Special Issue in Educational Research and Practice of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. The objective of this study was to evaluate the network created by the special Issue, and explore changes within the network over time.

Methods: Researchers used bibliometric data from Web of Science to create a social network analysis of institutions publishing in the first four years of the special issue using UCINET software. We analyzed whole-network and node-level metrics to describe variations and changes within the network.

Results: One hundred and three (56%) Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited emergency medicine programs were involved in 136 articles. The majority of institutions published in one or two issues. Nearly 25% published in three or four issues. The network analysis demonstrated that the mean number of connections per institution increased over the four years (mean of 5.34; standard deviation [SD] 1.27). Mean degree centralization was low at 0.28 (SD 0.05). Network density was low (mean of 0.09; SD 0.01) with little change across four issues. Five institutions scored consistently high in betweenness centrality, demonstrating a role as connectors between institutions within the network and the potential to connect new members to the network.

Conclusion: Network-wide metrics describe a consistently low-density network with decreasing degree centralization over four years. A small number of institutions within the network were persistently key players in the network. These data indicate that, aside from core institutions that publish together, the network is not widely connected. There is evidence that new institutions are coming into the network, but they are not necessarily connected to the core publishing groups. There may be opportunities to intentionally increase connections across the network and create new connections between traditionally high-performing institutions and newer members of the network. Through informal discussions with authors from high-performing institutions, there are specific behaviors that departments may use to promote education scholarship and forge these new connections.


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