Recent Research in Religion A Citation Analysis

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Martha Adkins


This paper reports the results of a study of the citations accompanying research published over ten years in the fields of theology, religious studies, and biblical studies. The purpose of the citation analysis project was to determine patterns of material usage by scholars in the discipline of Religion. The project proposed to seek answers to questions that frequently cross the minds of theological librarians, including, among others, the types of sources used by researchers in our fields, the prominence of primary sources, the currency of sources cited, dominant languages of publication and research, and most frequently used journals. 

A sample of peer-reviewed articles from these fields, chosen from journals indexed by the ATLA Religion Database, was examined from a variety of angles. 4107 cited references from 96 articles were analyzed for source type, publication language, dating, and authorship; articles were further examined for the peer review status of the publishing journal and the subject area covered. 

The cited references of the 96 articles analyzed were primarily monographs, published in English, published and created within the decades before the publication of the citing articles, and most had a single author. The 14 most frequently cited journals covered topics in religion and the social sciences.

The results reported here are expected to be informative to theological librarians in making collection development decisions and building subject liaison relationships. Librarians may choose monograph acquisitions over other types, or consider promoting other types of resources differently to encourage use. Theological librarians might consider subscribing to journal titles which overlap in subject coverage with the social sciences. Librarians and discipline faculty will likely find many conversation points among the data presented here.

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Peer-Reviewed Articles