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February 1980

The Critical Academic Mass

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Upstate Medical Center 750 E Adams St Syracuse, NY 13210

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(2):129-130. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130140003001

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Intuition suggests that increasing departmental size might affect individual research productivity by enhancing opportunities to share ideas, responsibilities, and facilities. If so, the effect could either extend indefinitely (ie, "the bigger the better") or reach a plateau that indicates the point of maximum profitable interaction. In the United States, pediatric full-time faculty rosters presently range from three to 141, according to data provided by 116 department chairmen. A test of these concepts thus requires only a reasonable, quantitative estimate of productivity. We chose to count publications and presentations at the annual meetings of the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Pediatric Society (APS/SPR). Forty-eight journals were searched for articles published between July 1, 1976 and June 30, 1978 that originated from the 116 departments studied, and the programs of the 1977 and 1978 APS/SPR meetings were scanned for articles accepted for presentation. The journals selected included four that deal