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Rhetorical structure parallels research topic in LIS articles: a temporal bibliometrics examination

Wen Lou (Department of Information Management, Faculty of Economics and Management, East China Normal University Minhang Campus, Shanghai, China) (Key Laboratory of Advanced Theory and Application in Statistics and Data Science (East China Normal University), Ministry of Education of China, Shanghai, China)
Jiangen He (The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Qianqian Xu (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Zhijie Zhu (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Qiwen Lu (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Yongjun Zhu (Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of South Korea)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 20 February 2023




The effectiveness of rhetorical structure is essential to communicate key messages in research articles (RAs). The interdisciplinary nature of library and information science (LIS) has led to unclear patterns and practice of using rhetorical structures. Understanding how RAs are constructed in LIS to facilitate effective scholarly communication is important. Numerous studies investigated the rhetorical structure of RAs in a range of disciplines, but LIS articles have not been well studied.


In this study, the authors encoded rhetorical structures to 2,216 articles in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology covering a period from 2001 to 2018 with the approaches of co-word analysis and visualization. The results show that the predominant rhetorical structures used by LIS researchers follow the sequence of Introduction-Literature Review-Methodology-Result-Discussion-Conclusion (ILMRDC).


The authors' temporal examination reveals the shifts of evolutionary pattern of rhetorical structure in 2008 and 2014. More importantly, the authors' study demonstrates that rhetorical structures have varied greatly across research areas in LIS community. For example, scholarly communication and scientometrics studies tend to exclude literature review in articles.


The present paper offers a first systematic examination of how rhetorical structures are used in a representative sample of a LIS journal, especially from a temporal perspective.



This research, an extended paper of ISSI 2021 research-in-progress paper entitled “The Effects of Rhetorical Structure on Citing Behavior in Research Articles,” is funded by Shanghai Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science Youth Project (No: 2021ETQ002), National Social Science Foundation (No: 21FTQB009), China Scholarship Council (No: 202106145010) and Open Research Fund Program of KMKS, National Press and Publication Administration (No: 2021KMKS01)], and Jiangen He wishes to thank the support of the National Science Foundation (No: 2122691).


Lou, W., He, J., Xu, Q., Zhu, Z., Lu, Q. and Zhu, Y. (2023), "Rhetorical structure parallels research topic in LIS articles: a temporal bibliometrics examination", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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