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1.  Exploring productivity and collaboration in Australian Indigenous health research, 1995–2008 
Building research capacity in Indigenous health has been recognised as integral in efforts to reduce the significant health disparities between Indigenous and other Australian populations. The past few decades have seen substantial changes in funding policy for Australian Indigenous health research, including increases in overall expenditure and a greater focus on collaborative and priority-driven research. However, whether these policy shifts have resulted in any change to the structure of the research workforce in this field is unclear. We examine research publications in Australian Indigenous health from 1995–2008 to explore trends in publication output, key themes investigated, and research collaborations.
A comprehensive literature search was undertaken to identify research publications about Australian Indigenous health from 1995–2008. Abstracts of all publications identified were reviewed by two investigators for relevance. Eligible publications were classified according to key themes. Social network analyses of co-authorship patterns were used to examine collaboration in the periods 1995–1999, 2000–2004 and 2005–2008.
Nine hundred and fifty three publications were identified. Over time, the number of publications per year increased, particularly after 2005, and there was a substantial increase in assessment of health service-related issues. Network analyses revealed a highly collaborative core group of authors responsible for the majority of outputs, in addition to a series of smaller separate groups. In the first two periods there was a small increase in the overall network size (from n = 583 to n = 642 authors) due to growth in collaborations around the core. In the last period, the network size increased considerably (n = 1,083), largely due to an increase in the number and size of separate groups. The general size of collaborations also increased in this period.
In the past few decades there has been substantial development of the research workforce in Indigenous health, characterised by an increase in authors and outputs, a greater focus on some identified priority areas and sustained growth in collaborations. This has occurred in conjunction with significant changes to funding policy for Indigenous health research, suggesting that both productivity and collaboration may be sensitive to reform, including the provision of dedicated funding.
PMCID: PMC3827998  PMID: 24209979
Aborigines; Australian; Cooperative behaviour; Research personnel
2.  A network approach for researching partnerships in health 
The last decade has witnessed a significant move towards new modes of governing that are based on coordination and collaboration. In particular, local level partnerships have been widely introduced around the world. There are few comprehensive approaches for researching the effects of these partnerships. The aim of this paper is to outline a network approach that combines structure and agency based explanations to research partnerships in health. Network research based on two Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) in Victoria is used to demonstrate the utility of this approach. The paper examines multiple types of ties between people (structure), and the use and value of relationships to partners (agency), using interviews with the people involved in two PCPs – one in metropolitan Melbourne and one in a rural area.
Network maps of ties based on work, strategic information and policy advice, show that there are many strong connections in both PCPs. Not surprisingly, PCP staff are central and highly connected. Of more interest are the ties that are dependent on these dedicated partnership staff, as they reveal which actors become weakly linked or disconnected without them. Network measures indicate that work ties are the most dispersed and strategic information ties are the most concentrated around fewer people. Divisions of general practice are weakly linked, while local government officials and Department of Human Services (DHS) regional staff appear to play important bridging roles. Finally, the relationships between partners have changed and improved, and most of those interviewed value their new or improved links with partners.
Improving service coordination and health promotion planning requires engaging people and building strong relationships. Mapping ties is a useful means for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of partnerships, and network analysis indicates concentration and dispersion, the importance of particular individuals, and the points at which they will fragment. A narrative approach adds an assessment of whether the partnerships are being used and valued. The approach outlined here, which examines structure and agency as separate but related explanations, has much to offer in examining partnerships.
PMCID: PMC1276782  PMID: 16209718

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