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Document phenomenology: a framework for holistic analysis

Tim Gorichanaz (Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Kiersten F. Latham (Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 10 October 2016




The purpose of this paper is to advance document ontology and epistemology by proposing a framework for analysing documents from multiple perspectives of research and practice.


Understanding is positioned as an epistemic aim of documents, which can be approached through phenomenology.


A phenomenological framework for document analysis is articulated. Key concepts in this framework are include intrinsic information, extrinsic information, abtrinsic information, and adtrinsic information. Information and meaning are distinguished. Finally, documents are positioned as part of a structural framework, which includes individual documents, parts of documents (docemes and docs), and systems of documents.

Research limitations/implications

Scholarship is extended with an eye toward holism; still, it is possible that important aspects of documents are overlooked. This framework serves as a stepping-stone along the continual refinement of methods for understanding documents.

Practical implications

Both scholars and practitioners can consider documents through this framework. This will lead to further co-understanding and collaboration, as well as better education and a deeper understanding of all manner of document experiences.


This paper fills a need for a common way to conceptualise documents that respects the numerous ways in which documents exist and are used and examined. Such coherence is vital for the advancement of document scholarship and is the promotion of document literacy in society, which is becoming increasingly important.



Gorichanaz, T. and Latham, K.F. (2016), "Document phenomenology: a framework for holistic analysis", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 6, pp. 1114-1133.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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