Authors : Thomas Franssen, Paul Wouters
The cognitive and social structures, and publication practices, of the humanities have been studied bibliometrically for the past 50 years. This article explores the conceptual frameworks, methods, and data sources used in bibliometrics to study the nature of the humanities, and its differences and similarities in comparison with other scientific domains.
We give a historical overview of bibliometric scholarship between 1965 and 2018 that studies the humanities empirically and distinguishes between two periods in which the configuration of the bibliometric system differs remarkably.
The first period, 1965 to the 1980s, is characterized by bibliometric methods embedded in a sociological theoretical framework, the development and use of the Price Index, and small samples of journal publications from which references are used as data sources.
The second period, the 1980s to the present day, is characterized by a new intellectual hinterland—that of science policy and research evaluation—in which bibliometric methods become embedded.
Here metadata of publications becomes the primary data source with which publication profiles of humanistic scholarly communities are analyzed. We unpack the differences between these two periods and critically discuss the analytical avenues that different approaches offer.