Development of Arabic library and information science : an analysis utilizing Whitley's theory of the intellectual and social organization of the sciences

21 Jun 2013

Purpose – The paper utilizes Whitley’s (1984; 2000) theory of the intellectual and social organization of the sciences and builds on research carried on by (Aarek et. al, 1992; Vakkari, 1996; Rochester and Vakkari, 2004 and Åström, 2008), to analyze both intellectual and institutional characteristics of Arabic library and information science. Design/methodology/approach – Data derived from a content analysis of sampled research articles published in seven core peer-reviewed Arabic LIS journals and from an inventory of the currently identified Arabic LIS educational institutions, professional associations, and scholarly communication channels were analyzed in terms of Whitley’s theory and relevant LIS research. Findings – The social organization of Arabic LIS has highly influenced its intellectual organization. An analysis of types and diversity of institutional affiliations, determination of terminology, resources and fund accessibility, scholarly communication of intellectual productivity, and research collaboration point to high levels of ‘tasks uncertainty’, low levels of ‘mutual dependency’ and uncontrolled ‘reputational autonomy’. Research limitations/implication – Because Arabic LIS institutions, associations, and research channels are poorly represented on the Internet or in accessible literature, it was difficult to collect data comprehensively. While our findings are suggestive and are in agreement with views from the Arabic LIS literature, our results cannot be generalized to regions beyond the Arab World. This investigation is not primarily intended as a contribution to the philosophy of LIS, but to describe the development of LIS in the Arab States within a broad social and intellectual framework. Originality/value – While there is a considerable body of theoretically oriented interpretations for bibliometric findings, no research has been conducted to analyze the social and intellectual dimensions of LIS in the Arab World. This paper also fills a gap for this type of the research in Arabic LIS and creates awareness of Arabic LIS for English-speaking readers.