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Harvesting footnotes in a rural field: citation patterns in Swedish literary studies

Björn Hammarfelt (Department of Archival Science, Library and Information Science and Museology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 20 July 2012




The aim of this article is to study a locally‐oriented and book‐based research field using two Swedish language sources. Knowledge about citation patterns outside journal‐based, English language databases is scarce; thus a substantial part of research in the humanities and the social sciences is neglected in bibliometric studies.


Citation characteristics (publication type, language, gender and age) in the journal Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap (2000‐2009) and in grant applications (2006‐2009) are studied. The datasets are analyzed further, adopting an author‐co‐citation approach for depicting and comparing the “intellectual base” of the field.


It is shown that monographs and anthologies are the main publication channel in Swedish literary research. English, followed by Swedish, is the major language, and the gender of authors seems to influence citation practices. Furthermore, a common intellectual base of literary studies that is independent of publication type and language could be identified.

Practical implications

Bibliometric analysis of fields within the humanities needs to go beyond established databases and materials. The extensive use of recent English language monographs in Swedish literary studies informs the acquisition policy of university libraries serving literature scholars.


Citation analysis of non‐English sources offers further knowledge about scholarly fields with a local and “rural” profile. The approach of using references in grant applications provides a novel and promising venue for bibliometric research.



Hammarfelt, B. (2012), "Harvesting footnotes in a rural field: citation patterns in Swedish literary studies", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 68 No. 4, pp. 536-558.



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