Survey of Doris Duke Fellows Finds Network Connections are Increasing

Learning agility is often enhanced through collaboration among scholars who share a common interest. For the past ten years, the Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child Well-Being has created a network of scholars from diverse disciplines, allowing these individuals to share their perspectives on key challenges in protecting children and fostering optimal child development. The program enrolls a cohort of 15 doctoral students, or fellows, each year for two years, introducing them to other fellows and enhancing their skills in conducting applied research. To date, 120 scholars have participated in the program. The Fellowships network has been created, in part, through annual meetings, informal meetings at relevant conferences, ongoing web-based conferences, peer mentoring, and shared research projects. For the past five years, Fellowships staff have surveyed fellows to document the frequency of their interactions with other fellows both during and after formal enrollment in the program. This report presents findings from the most recent survey and compares the level of engagement to prior years.

What We Did

Researchers conducted a web-based survey of 105 fellows from the program’s initial seven cohorts. Fellows were asked to report the number and quality of interactions they had with other fellows, both within and outside their cohort, between July 2017 and June 2018 (FY18). Researchers used social network analysis to illustrate the extent to which fellows were in communications with other fellows within their cohort and with the network as a whole. They also examined what factors—such as academic discipline or membership in the same small group—might have contributed to more frequent interactions.

What We Found

This report presents findings on the Fellowships network as a whole as well as how each individual cohort interacted, both within each cohort and between cohorts, from July 2017 to June 2018. Overall, the 105 fellows reported a total of 2,498 connections across the full Fellowships network in FY18. This is a 35% increase over the total number of connections reported in FY17. Of all the reported connections, 69.7% reflected connections with fellows from different cohorts. This represents a 4% increase in cross-cohort interactions over FY17.

What It Means

As in prior surveys, the FY18 survey documented substantial interactions among the fellows, both within and across cohorts. These interactions go beyond fellowship-sponsored events, suggesting that lasting relationships and robust learning partnerships are being established, often with individuals outside a fellow’s primary discipline. The survey results suggest that many connections within the Fellowships are being sustained even as the network expands to include new members. Overall, the Fellowships network remains well connected and is providing fellows with an important resource to promote interdisciplinary learning and research that can improve child well-being practice and public policy.

For more information about the Fellowships and this report, please visit the Doris Duke Fellowships website.

2018 Doris Duke Fellowships Networking Survey Report