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Distribution features and intellectual structures of digital humanities: A bibliometric analysis

Qing Wang (Business School, Nankai University, Tianjin, China)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to conduct a retrospective bibliometric analysis of documents about digital humanities, an emerging but interdisciplinary movement. It examines the distribution of research outputs and languages, identifies the active journals and institutions, dissects the network of categories and cited references, and interprets the hot research topics.


The source data are derived from the Web of Science (WoS) core collection. To reveal the holistic landscape of this field, VOSviewer and CiteSpace as popular visualization tools are employed to process the bibliographic data including author, category, reference, and keyword. Furthermore, the parameter design of the visualization tools follows the general procedures and methods for bibliometric analysis.


There is an obviously rapid growth in digital humanities research. English is still the leading academic language in this field. The most influential authors all come from or have scientific relationships with Europe and North America, and two leading countries of which are the UK and USA. Digital humanities is the result of a dynamic dialogue between humanistic exploration and digital means. This research field is closely associated with history, literary and cultural heritage, and information and library science.

Research limitations/implications

This analysis relies on the metadata information extracted from the WoS database; however, some valuable literatures in the field of digital humanities may not be retrieved from the database owing to the inherent challenge of topic search. This study is also restricted by the scope of publications, the limitation regarding the source of data is that WoS database may have underrepresented publications in this domain.


The output of this paper could be a valuable reference for researchers and practitioners interesting in the knowledge domain of digital humanities. Moreover, the conclusions of this retrospective analysis can be deemed as the comparable foundation for future study.



The author is grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions on this study.


Wang, Q. (2018), "Distribution features and intellectual structures of digital humanities: A bibliometric analysis", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 74 No. 1, pp. 223-246.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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