References to e-texts in academic publications

12 April 2011

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore roles of electronic texts (e-texts) in research enquiry in literary and historical studies, and to deepen the understanding of the nature of scholars’ engagement with e-texts as primary materials. The study includes an investigation of references to e-texts and discussions about researchers’ citation practices in interviews. Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative methodology was used to explore scholars’ interactions with e-texts in 30 research projects. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used to examine citations and any other acknowledgments of e-texts in participants' prepublications and published works. In-depth semi-structured interviews provided data for findings about researchers’ citation practices. Findings – Formal acknowledgments of e-texts do not represent the depth and breadth of researchers’ interactions with e-texts. Assessments of the relevance and trustworthiness of e-texts, as well as considerations of disciplinary cultures, had some impact on researchers’ citation practices. Research limitations/implications – The study was based on in-depth data-gathering from a small group of participants. It does not have any statistical significance and the findings cannot be generalized, but comparisons with other scholars in literary and historical studies are possible. The study indicated a need for further investigation of changing academic practices in general and citation practices in particular. Practical implications – The findings have implications for the development of standards and institutional support for research in the humanities. Originality/value – The study provides new insights into the phenomenon of a very small number of citations of electronic sources in publications in the humanities, and considers issues related to citations from the perspective of changing academic cultures. Keywords - User studies, Information studies, Researchers, Humanities, Research Paper type - Research paper