Literature practices represent the process leading up to the citation of a source, and consist of the selection, reading and citing of sources. The purpose of this paper is to explore possible factors that might influence researchers during this process and discover possible consequences of researchers’ citation behaviours.
In this exploratory study, various factors which could influence literature practices were explored via a questionnaire amongst 112 researchers. Participants were first authors of articles published in 2016 in one of five different journals within the disciplines of experimental psychology, educational sciences and social psychology. Academic positions of the participants ranged from PhD student to full professor.
Frequencies and percentages showed that researchers seemed to be influenced in their literature practices by various factors, such as editors suggesting articles and motivation to cite.
Additionally, a high percentage of researchers reported taking shortcuts when citing articles (e.g. using secondary citations and reading selectively). Logistic regression did not reveal a clear relationship between academic work experience and research practices.
Seeing that researchers seem to be influenced by a variety of factors in their literature practices, the scientific community might benefit from better citation practices and guidelines in order to provide more structure to the process of literature practices.
This paper provides first insights into researchers’ literature practices. Possible reasons for problems with citation accuracy and replicating research findings are highlighted. Opportunities for further research on the topic of citation behaviours are presented.