Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Alice Myatt

Third Advisor

John Holleman

Relational Format



This autoethnography uses the researcher’s personal journey from professional writer to emergent academic scholar to examine the perceptions of the frequent pursuit of academic scholarly productivity among faculty writing group (FWG) participants. The case study, based at a Southeastern U.S. research-intensive university, adds to extensive analyses of FWGs as a means of faculty development that positively influences the frequency of scholarly work; it is significant because unlike most studies on FWGs, this study focuses on understanding more deeply the sway that “publish or perish” directives hold on FWG participants, delving into faculty reactions to academe’s explicit pressures that professors regularly produce publishable scholarly work for the promise of tenure, promotion and advancement, and job security. Empirical studies suggest that what often stymies junior and senior academic faculty researchers and hinders them from engaging more frequently in scholarly productivity are the ongoing challenges in meeting the expectations of their expanding roles amid teaching, service, and other academic obligations (Dwyer, Lewis, McDonald, & Burns, 2012; MacLeod, Steckley, & Murray, 2012). Eight FWG participants completed surveys and five contributed to two focus groups to uncover faculty views on the persistent need to pursue published scholarship. Data analyses revealed 10 major themes that emerged as a result of this exploration. They suggest that faculty are skeptical that their research has practical value, faculty are less inclined to express positive sentiments about their overall research experience, and faculty make significant lifestyle changes when pursuing research publishing. Using a novel approach that employs the researcher’s narratives of personal experience with writing under pressure and working in academia, this study informs practice and research, presents faculty perspectives on the persistent need to “publish or perish,” and suggests that research institutions engage faculty-researchers in considering how increased resources and initiatives aimed at addressing scholarly productivity may help faculty to better thrive in such environments.



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