181653 Using a peer working group to increase scholarly productivity during a doctoral program

Monday, October 27, 2008

Linda Ko, MS, MPH , Health Behavior Health Education, University of North Carolina, Durham, NC
Kathryn Remmes Martin, MPH , Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Graham, NC
Background: The concept of working in a group during graduate school is hardly new. Yet it appears that the process through which students work together to be productive has been explored very little. Guided by the concepts of social support, one group of doctoral students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Public Health identified and offer nine processes relating to using a peer working group to increase productivity during the doctoral program.

Methods: Productivity was defined as progress made on group members' doctoral program requirements and dissertation while maintaining involvement in activities such as research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowship/grant writing, and manuscript writing and publication. The peer working group conceptualized the processes in terms of the four social support concepts: instrumental, informational, emotional, and appraisal support.

Results: Instrumental support exchange occurred through three processes: establishing regular meetings, reading previously exchanged materials, providing feedback for content and editorial assistance. Informational support included four processes: networking and navigating relationships, expertise sharing, exchanging information on career development, and encouraging a sense of ownership over ones ideas and knowledge. Exchange of emotional support occurred through the process of encouragement, and appraisal support through the processes of setting goals, meeting timelines, and progress accountability.

Conclusion: Doctoral students must be dedicated to dissertation activities while maintaining high levels of scholarly productivity in order to become well-rounded junior faculty and researchers. Developing strong personal, professional and collaborative skills during doctoral training may provide an advantage in one's job search and future careers.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objective 1: Understand concept of peer working group. Learning Objective 2: Identify processes that lead to productivity in a peer working group. Learning Objective 3: Recognize the potential impact of peer working group on scholarly productivity and future careers.

Keywords: Students, Professional Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I do not have a conflict of interest.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.