(Non-)use of Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge and Order of Things in LIS journal literature, 1990-2015

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a close, detailed analysis of the frequency, nature, and depth of visible use of two of Foucault’s classic early works, The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Order of Things, by library, and information science/studies (LIS) scholars. Design/methodology/approach – The study involved conducting extensive full-text searches in a large number of electronically available LIS journal databases to find citations of Foucault’s works, then examining each citing article and each individual citation to evaluate the nature and depth of each use. Findings – Contrary to initial expectations, the works in question are relatively little used by LIS scholars in journal articles, and where they are used, such use is often only vague, brief, or in passing. In short, works traditionally seen as central and foundational to discourse analysis appear relatively little in discussions of discourse. Research limitations/implications – The study was limited to a certain batch of LIS journal articles that are electronically available in full text at UCLA, where the study was conducted. The results potentially could change by focussing on a fuller or different collection of journals or on non-journal literature. More sophisticated bibliometric techniques could reveal different relative performance among journals. Other research approaches, such as discourse analysis, social network analysis, or scholar interviews, might reveal patterns of use and influence that are not visible in the journal literature. Originality/value – This study’s intensive, in-depth study of quality as well as quantity of citations challenges some existing assumptions regarding citation analysis and the sociology of citation practices, plus illuminating Foucault scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-489
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 9 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Archaeology
  • Bibliometrics
  • Citation analysis
  • Discourse
  • Foucault
  • Sociology of citation


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