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Patterns of citations for the growth of knowledge: a Foucauldian perspective

Nik Rushdi Hassan (Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)
Alexander Serenko (Faculty of Information (iSchool), University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 27 February 2019

Issue publication date: 3 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to sensitize researchers to qualitative citation patterns that characterize original research, contribute toward the growth of knowledge and, ultimately, promote scientific progress.


This study describes how ideas are intertextually inserted into citing works to create new concepts and theories, thereby contributing to the growth of knowledge. By combining existing perspectives and dimensions of citations with Foucauldian theory, this study develops a typology of qualitative citation patterns for the growth of knowledge and uses examples from two classic works to illustrate how these citation patterns can be identified and applied.


A clearer understanding of the motivations behind citations becomes possible by focusing on the qualitative patterns of citations rather than on their quantitative features. The proposed typology includes the following patterns: original, conceptual, organic, juxtapositional, peripheral, persuasive, acknowledgment, perfunctory, inconsistent and plagiaristic.


In contrast to quantitative evaluations of the role and value of citations, this study focuses on the qualitative characteristics of citations, in the form of specific patterns of citations that engender original and novel research and those that may not. By integrating Foucauldian analysis of discourse with existing theories of citations, this study offers a more nuanced and refined typology of citations that can be used by researchers to gain a deeper semantic understanding of citations.



Hassan, N.R. and Serenko, A. (2019), "Patterns of citations for the growth of knowledge: a Foucauldian perspective", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 75 No. 3, pp. 593-611.



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