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Evaluating UK research in speech and language therapy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Carding


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Background: There has been a steady growth in recent years in British higher-degree training in speech and language therapy. But what is the standing of UK research in the subject and its component areas which should underpin and inform such training? How can such research be evaluated? Aims: The intention was to compare UK publications relevant to speech and language therapy with those of other countries, both quantitatively and qualitatively. We sought then to examine the UK papers in more detail to analyse their sources of funding, their geographical distribution and the ways in which they could appropriately be evaluated. Methods & Procedures: Papers were selectively retrieved from the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences Citation Index for 1991-2000 by means of a filter based on journal names and paper title words. They were subsequently checked to remove many false positives. The papers were classified into one of seven subject areas and by their research level (from clinical to basic). Their importance was estimated through their potential impact on other researchers, as determined by the citation score of their journals, by the numbers of citations they actually received and by the subjective esteem in which the various journals were held by UK speech and language researchers. Outcomes & Results: World output of speech and language therapy papers has averaged 1000 papers per year during the 1990s, and has grown by half over the period. UK output has been about 12% of the total, compared with 10% in biomedicine, and is published in high impact journals relative to the norm for the field, which is quite a low rate compared with biomedicine overall. Almost half the UK papers had no funding acknowledgements, with the private-non-profit and industrial sectors playing less of a role than in other biomedical areas. Papers in seven subject areas showed substantial differences in their performance on the four criteria selected. Conclusions: The state of British speech and language research appears to be satisfactory, with an above average output in both quantity and quality. However, it is not attracting funding from some types of sponsors and is not being published in general medical journals where it might have a wider influence on general clinical practice. It is also not clear how best such research can be evaluated, although conventional citation counts may be relevant for some subject areas.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lewison G, Carding P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Year: 2003

Volume: 38

Issue: 1

Pages: 65-84

Print publication date: 01/01/2003

ISSN (print): 1368-2822

ISSN (electronic): 1460-6984

Publisher: Informa Healthcare


DOI: 10.1080/13682820304815

PubMed id: 12569037


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