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To select a sample small enough to be manageable but large enough
for meaningful analysis, the authors identified literary...
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Looking for Landmarks: A citation analysis of English literary scholarship for collection development


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Poster presentation at American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, with David S. Nolen, San Francisco, CA, July 2015

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Looking for Landmarks: A citation analysis of English literary scholarship for collection development

  1. 1. To select a sample small enough to be manageable but large enough for meaningful analysis, the authors identified literary works that had been included on the reading list for the comprehensive exams for the M.A. in English over a three-year span (2011-2013). These reading lists provide a window into the core literary texts that the department expected its students to understand comprehensively by the time of their completion of the graduate program. Each year’s list included works by 16 different authors. Ten different author/title combinations appeared on the list each year from 2011-2013. In order to pilot this methodology, the authors selected one author/ title combination that was included in the list every year from 2011-2013 and that provided a sample size that was large enough for analysis but not so large as to be unmanageable for a pilot project. The authors selected Jane Austen’s Persuasion as the work to examine, conducted a “Primary Subject Work” search in MLA International Bibliography in December 2014, and limited the results to book-format resources published since 1990. This yielded 5 monographs and 57 unique book articles on Persuasion. The authors then examined the resources cited by each of those 5 monographs and 57 book articles, recording the bibliographic citation data in Excel spreadsheets. The authors recorded data for resources cited explicitly in the bibliography or footnotes/endnotes of the sample work or in the text of the study. The authors then assigned the resources to 1 of 5 categories based on the characteristics of that cited item: monographs, volumes of collected essays, journal articles, Jane Austen editions, and other. For the purposes of this study, the authors use the following definitions: • Monographs: single-author, single-subject, book-length studies. • Collectedessays:book-formatpublicationswhosecontentsareessays orarticles(usuallybymultipleauthors)appearinginaneditedcollection. • Jane Austen edition: any citations to the various editions of Jane Austen’s literary works (including citations to introductions or scholarly essays or articles included in critical editions) • Other: archival sources, reference works, literary works not authored by Jane Austen, correspondence, and films. David S. Nolen, Associate Professor, Assistant Editor/Reference Librarian, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library/Congressional and Political Research Center Hillary A. H. Richardson, Assistant Professor/Humanities Librarian • The level of overlap underwhelmed the authors of the current study who had presumed there would be more shared citations among scholarly works dedicated to studies of not only the same author, but the same literary work. • At the level of journal title and volume of collected essay, there was very little overlap in terms of the authors’ expectations. • The eponymous journal Persuasions was cited by only 13 sample book articles (roughly 23% of the sample) and only 3 of the 5 sample books (only 22% of all journal citations); • One volume of collected essays (Jane Austen in Hollywood) was cited by only 5 sample book articles (approximately 9%) and only 2 of the 5 books. • Two monograph titles appeared in 12 (Jane Austen and the War of Ideas) and 10 (Tanner’s Jane Austen) of the book articles in the sample, with those titles also being cited in 4 and 2 of the books, respectively. • Unsurprisingly, the highest level of overlap in title was to the Primary Subject Work, Persuasion. However, only 47 of the 57 book articles cited some edition of the literary text Persuasion, while 10 of the 57 book articles did not cite Persuasion at all in the bibliography or in the text. The authors of the current study believe this can be accounted for primarily by the fact that numerous studies in the sample focused on the film adaptations of Jane Austen’s works, and thus may or may not have cited the literary text itself. • Author overlap was just as diverse, with Jane Austen herself receiving 17.5% of all citations. The next highest cited author, B. C. Southam, was only cited 2.9% of the time. • All in all, the data from this sample does not point to a neat core of resources but to a high level of diversity among the resources used. These patterns (or lack thereof) correlate to Budd’s observation that “American literature consists of the products of the imagination of many individuals over a period of a few hundred years . . . [Scholars], using the products of imaginations as their laboratory, are therefore likely to draw from varied materials in the course of conducting their research or formulating critical ideas” (1986, p. 192). • This points to the importance of the immediate needs of local users and collaborative collection development to best utilize scarce resources. In examining the local collection to evaluate holdings for scholarship on Jane Austen’s Persuasion at Mississippi State University Libraries, the authors discovered 13 of 19 “overlapping” titles (68%) were present in the collection. Looking for Landmarks: A Citation Analysis of English Literary Scholarship for Collection Development Introduction Citation studies have documented the presence of landmark articles in a number of scholarly fields over the years, especially in the sciences. But can landmark works— studies of such great impact that scholars consider them foundational to the discipline—be documented in humanities disciplines through citation analysis? The authors of the current study set out to test for the presence of landmark works in certain areas of English literary scholarship with collection development in mind. By conducting a citation study on a specific niche within English literary studies, the authors hoped to identify core groups of scholarly works for that area of study that could be used as a tool for collection development and provide a picture of literary scholarship on a more granular level. Literature Review While many facets of citation patterns in the humanities remain unexplored, there are a handful of significant studies that have contributed to the scholarly conversation, especially with regards to collection development. While none directly addresses the hypothesis of a “landmark” work that figures into citation patterns, several studies mention observations of the trend - or lack thereof. Heinzkill (1980), Stern (1983), Cullars (1985), and Budd (1986), found through citation analyses of a wide range of notable journals of literary scholarship that English literary scholars largely preferred books and monographs to journal articles or “other” sources (e.g. newspapers, dissertations, etc.). They also noted that age and subject area cover an entire spectrum, indicating a contrast with the predominance of current journal articles in the sciences and social sciences. Thompson conducted a citation study on a sample of books in nineteenth-century English and American literature, finding that “[t]he breadth of the academic fields in this study – the coverage of both American and British Literature across the entire nineteenth century (as opposed to one particular period) –created a broadly distributed group of authors,” but “[n]o core group of either was evident” (2007, p. 129). In an updated look at his 1980 article, Heinzkill examined 555 journal articles in English and American literary studies and found the research profile to be consistent with almost 30 years of citation studies, with English literary scholars citing monographs 77.1% of the time, but “there were not any works that could be considered to be heavily cited” (Heinzkill, 2007, p. 145). While this study also examines the secondary literature of English literary scholars and finds similar results, the authors focus this study on a local, pinpointed area in the field of English scholarship. Budd, J. (1986). Characteristics of written scholarship in American Literature: A citation study. LISR, 8, 189-211. Cullars, J. (1985). Characteristics of the monographic literature of British and American literary studies. College & Research Libraries, 46(6), 511-522. Heinzkill, R. (1980). Characteristics of references in selected scholarly English literary journals. Library Quarterly, 50(3), 352-365. Heinzkill, R. (2007). References in scholarly English and American literary journals thirty years later: A citation study. College & Research Libraries, 68(2), 141-153. Thompson, J. W. (2002). The death of the scholarly monograph in the humanities? Citation patterns in literary scholarship. LIBRI, 52, 121-136. Data Profile Search Results from MLA International Bibliography Books 5 Book Articles 57 Total Resources 62 Total Citations 2683 Book Articles Raw Number of Citations 1188 Average Citations per Article 20.84 Highest Number of Citations in a Single Article 84 Lowest Number of Citations in a Single Article 3 Raw Number of Citations 1495 Citations per Book 299 Highest Number of Citations in a Single Book 613 Lowest Number of Citations in a Single Book 53 Books Category Breakdown of Full Sample Category Frequency monograph 1039 collected essays 421 journal article 376 other 633 JA edition 209 Total 2678 39% 14%8% 23% 16% monograph journal article JA edition other collected essays Other Items 23% 24%30% 21% 2% 0% Reference Title other Pre-1900 literary work JA correspondence film 14% 35% 4% 13% 6% 28% films literary works reference works pre-1900 JA correspondence other Citations to Jane Austen Editions 26% 24% 5% 29% 11% 5% Total Citations to Jane Austen's Novels Emma Mansfield Park Northanger Abbey Persuasion Pride and Prejudice Sense and Sensibility 13% 14% 10% 38% 17% 8% Overlapping Book Article Citations to Jane Austen's Novels Emma Mansfield Park Northanger Abbey Persuasion Pride and Prejudice Sense and Sensibility Citations to Unique Journals *Cited by 4 of 5 Critical Inquiry English Literary History †Cited by 3 of 5 Persuasions Nineteenth-Century Fiction 82% 14% 2% 2% Cited by 1 Cited by 2 Cited by 3 Cited by 4 *Cited by 13: Persuasions: the Jane Austen Journal †Cited by 7: Nineteenth-Century Literature English Literary History (ELH)74% 10% 6% 5% 1% 3% 1% cited by 1 cited by 2 cited by 3 cited by 4 cited by 5 cited by 7 cited by 13 *Cited by 4 of 5 Jane Austen: New Perspectives, ed. Janet Todd Jane Austen’s Business, ed. Jan Fergus †Cited by 3 of 5 Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage, ed. B. C. Southam Jane Austen and the Discourses of Feminism, ed. Devoney Looser Citations to Unique Essay Collections86% 11% 1% 2% Cited by 1 Cited by 2 Cited by 3 Cited by 4 *Cited by 5: Jane Austen in Hollywood edited by Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield †Cited by 4: Jane Austen: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Ian Watt Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession edited by Juliet McMaster and Bruce Stovel New Casebooks: Mansfield Park and Persuasion edited by Judy Simons ‡Cited by 3: Jane Austen: New Perspectives edited by Janet Todd Jane Austen: Bicentenary Essays edited by John Halperin Jane Austen on Screen edited by Gina MacDonald and Andrew MacDonald 84% 9% 3% 3% 1% cited by 1 cited by 2 cited by 3 cited by 4 cited by 5 Citations to Unique Monographs91% 6% 2% 1% Cited by 1 Cited by 2 Cited by 3 Cited by 4 *Cited by 4 of 5 Jane Austen and her Art by Mary Lascelles Jane Austen and the War of Ideas by Marilyn Butler Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel by Claudia L. Johnson The Improvement of the Estate by Alistair Duckworth The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer by Mary Poovey *Cited by 12: Jane Austen and the War of Ideas by Marilyn Butler †Cited by 10: Jane Austen by Tony Tanner ‡Cited by 7: Jane Austen: Feminism and Fiction by Margaret Kirkham Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery by Marvin Mudrick Some Words of Jane Austen by Stuart Tave 83% 11% 2% 2% 0% 1% 1% 0% 0% Cited by 1 Cited by 2 Cited by 3 Cited by 4 Cited by 5 Cited by 6 Cited by 7 Cited by 10 Cited by 12 Citations by Category Category Frequency Average monograph 626 125.2 collected essays 273 54.6 journal article 217 43.4 other 336 67 Jane Austen edition 43 8.6 Total 1495 298.8 42% 18% 15% 22% 3% monograph collected essays journal article other Jane Austen edition Category Frequency Average collected essays 148 2.59 JA edition 166 2.91 journal article 159 2.79 monograph 413 7.24 other 297 5.21 unknown 5 0 Total 1188 20.84* *sum does not equal overall average due to rounding 13% 14% 13% 35% 25% 0% collected essays Jane Austen edition journal article monograph other unknown BOOKS BOOK ARTICLES Discussion and ConclusionsMethodology 9.30% 18.60% 46.51% 20.93% 20.93% 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% RW CHAPMAN OXFORD PENGUIN NORTON OTHER OR UNKNOWN Percentage of Books Citing Specific Editions of Jane Austen's Works 40.35% 50.88% 22.81% 56.14% 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% RW CHAPMAN OXFORD PENGUIN NO EDITIIONSPECIFIED Percentage of Book Articles Citing Specific Editions of Jane Austen's Works For digital version of this poster please visit: