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«Doctoral dissertations of Library and Information Science in China: A co-word analysis Qian-Jin Zong • Hong-Zhou Shen • Qin-Jian Yuan • ...»

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The hierarchical cluster analysis for top keywords with high frequency suggests that the research fields of LIS doctoral dissertations in China are varied. The evolution trends in strategic diagram reveal that many research fields in LIS doctoral dissertations in China are still immature; accordingly, the well-developed and core research fields are fewer, such as information resource, electronic government, ontology, digital library and knowledge management. In summary, it is notable that research fields of LIS doctoral dissertations in China are varied and many of them are still immature. This may be caused by two reasons.

Firstly, the development of LIS disciplines (especially the discipline of Information Science) is still immature. Taking Information Science for example, there is no undergraduate education in Information Science in China. That is, there is only doctoral/master’s education in Information Science in China. The researchers (e.g., Ph.D. candidate) are from different disciplines, such as mathematics, computer science, information systems, management science, economics, engineering, law, and so on. Thus, the research fields are varied due to the different backgrounds of disciplines. Secondly, the development of information technology and the growth of economics in China have motivated LIS schools to adjust their objectives, curriculum and knowledge structure in order to meet the various kinds of social needs (Dong 1997). Accordingly, the research fields of LIS doctoral dissertations become more specific and specialized. It should be noted that the doctoral education of LIS in China is only in a preliminary stage, thus, many research fields are still immature and need to be further studied.

As an exploratory study, this study also has some limitations. A little number of dissertations may contain some contents of confidentiality, such as patenting and/or commercial development possibilities. As a result, these dissertations through submission to degree databases may be delayed disclosure for years. We collected LIS doctoral dissertations from university/institute dissertation databases and public dissertation databases, therefore, the research may missed a small amount of dissertations.

Notwithstanding its limitation, this study has mapped an intellectual structure of the research fields of LIS doctoral dissertations in China. In future, we will do a longitudinal study in order to gain a full understanding of historical and contemporary developments in research. In addition, future studies may carry out a comparative study between China and oversea countries to integrate into the global trend.

Doctoral dissertation is an underdeveloped unit of analysis in contemporary bibliometric research. With the same view as the other researchers (Andersen and Hammarfelt 123 Doctoral dissertations of Library and Information Science in China 2011), we believe that the analysis of doctoral dissertations can provide valuable insights into the growth and structure of scientific fields and disciplines.

Acknowledgments This study was sponsored by Jiangsu Province Graduate Students Research and Innovation Plan (CXZZ11_0059).

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