Document, text and medium: concepts, theories and disciplines

Niels Windfeld Lund (University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is first to provide a critical conceptual discussion of different use of the notion of text, especially in the case of expressions including words as well as images, second to consider the notion of document as an alternative to the notion of text, and finally to lay out a theoretical ground for a broad discipline of documentation studies.


The approach took the form of a conceptual analysis of a number of works in media and literary studies.


There were found a number of cases of contradictory use of the notion of text within the same work, talking about text in a broad overall sense covering all media as well as text as a distinctive concept separating words from images, while it was found through a conceptual history of the notion of document that the latter notion not only covers a written paper, but multiple media.

Research limitations/implications

In future research, one should consider the use of document as the concept for the expressions as a whole and dedicate the notion of text solely for the verbal part of the expressions and make more empirical analysis within this conceptual framework to see if it makes a difference in practice to change the overall concept from text to document.

Practical implications

Having a broad concept of document, it would be possible to be more flexible regarding the choose of proper media for documentation.


By making a critique of the notion of text and suggesting a broader concept of document as well as documentation, the paper provides a ground for reconsidering the classical disciplinary structure, divided into humanities as well as the information sciences and social sciences.



Windfeld Lund, N. (2010), "Document, text and medium: concepts, theories and disciplines", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 66 No. 5, pp. 734-749.

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