Academic productivity in the field of ecology

Megan P. Keville, Cara R. Nelson, F. Richard Hauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although the broad field of ecology and its role in understanding the distribution and diversity of life on earth is a central part of the natural sciences, there is currently no comprehensive ranking of academic institutions for this discipline, which has quadrupled in research volume and visibility over the past three decades. We assessed scholarly productivity in the field of ecology for 316 North American academic institutions between the years 2000 and 2014. We present institutional rankings of productivity in terms of number of publications, number of citations, and Hirsch's h index, a measure that integrates productivity and impact. For the top-ranked institutions, we also calculated hm, an h-based metric used to compare productivity across institutions of different sizes. In addition, we analyzed the effect of institution size on h index, publication rate, and number of citations. We found that scholarship in ecology is not significantly different between public and private universities, and from institutions ranging in size from extremely large to relatively small. Many of the institutions in the "ecology top 20" are widely considered as being among North America's elite schools. However, there are several smaller institutions that have very high research productivity and impact in ecology with an apparently very strong ecology faculty. Administrators, faculty, prospective faculty, and students use institutional rankings, along with other data, to make decisions about programs in which to invest or participate. Relative institutional strength in the field of ecology, however, has not been previously measured, perhaps because faculty with expertise in ecology are often dispersed through multiple academic units of a university. Thus, our findings fill an important gap for ecology as a discipline.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01620
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Academic productivity
  • Citation rate
  • Ecology
  • Publication rate
  • Scholarship
  • h index


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