Towards a new generic framework for citation network generation and analysis in the humanities

Moshe Blidstein, Maayan Zhitomirsky-Geffet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Citation network analysis is one of the most developed techniques in science mapping. Various types of citation analysis have been proposed in the literature such as direct citation, co-citation and bibliographic coupling. Networks based on these citation analysis types have been used to reveal discipline structure, central players and emerging trends in STEM and social sciences. However, in the humanities large-scale citation network analysis is still underexplored, mainly due to the lack of comprehensive data sources and varying publication practices. In this paper, we investigate the unique characteristics and needs of citation analysis in the historical humanities and propose a generic framework for systematic generation and analysis of different types of citation networks based on several variables and the essential distinction between citations of primary and secondary sources. The proposed methodology was applied to a corpus of over 15,000 (both primary and secondary) books related to the research field of ancient Mediterranean religions. The obtained results show that in order to gain a deep and comprehensive understanding of a discipline’s structure it is beneficial to compare and combine the findings of several types of networks rather than focus on a single network analysis. Comparative community analysis of the networks reveals the existence of a disciplinary core only in the primary literature corpus and a hierarchical sub-discipline structure of the examined research field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)4275-4297
Number of pages23
Issue number7
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Betweenness centrality
  • Citation analysis
  • Community analysis
  • Digital humanities science mapping
  • Humanities
  • Network analysis
  • Primary sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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