UW–Madison educational psychology faculty member, department ranked among most productive in the world for research


A faculty member in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology is one of the most productive researchers in the world in her field, according to an analysis just published in Educational Psychology Review. The analysis also ranked UW–Madison among the top ten institutions globally for educational psychology research productivity. 

The study examined the number of research publications in the educational psychology journals Cognition and Instruction, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Educational Psychologist, Educational Psychology Review, Journal of Educational Psychology on an individual and institutional level between 2015 and 2021.

The authors of the study argued measuring individual and institutional research productivity provides a clear way to gauge meaningful contributions to the field. 

“Publishing in high-quality journals remains an undisputed indicator of scholarly productivity in a vast majority of academic disciplines, including educational psychology,” the authors of the analysis wrote. “From faculty tenure and promotion guidelines to award criteria set by scholarly organizations, the quality and quantity of a scholar’s peer-reviewed journal articles are defining characteristics of intellectual merit and contribution to the field.”

In the analysis, Martina Rau, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, ranked sixth in the world for individual productivity when lead authorship position on articles is considered in the ranking calculation. Under the same calculation, Rau ranked second in the world among early career scholars who have received their doctorate since 2012. She ranked seventh among early career scholars in a raw count of published articles.

Martina Rau

Rau, who studies learning with visualizations, said her research aims to improve learning in science, technology, engineering and math. She recently published a paper on how some diagrams commonly used in chemistry education could be doing more harm than good. She also recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study misinformation in graphs.

“Understanding how people process information depicted in visualizations will enable us to create more effective educational materials,” she said. 

Rau said her research productivity ranking came as a “complete surprise.”

“I don’t particularly try to publish a lot,” she said. “ I just think it is a duty to share research findings with the community.”

The analysis also ranked UW–Madison ninth in the world for educational psychology faculty research productivity. 

The authors of the study pointed out that identifying the most productive researchers and institutions may be helpful to future graduate students or postdoctoral researchers as they work to identify mentors. They also said the rankings could help prospective students and faculty identify schools of interest.

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