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Citation Trends

Newspaper Citations on the Rise in Scholarly Research

New study by Dr. Eric T. Meyer and ProQuest uncovers citation trends for four major global publications

The use of newspapers in academic research is growing, according to a recent study commissioned by ProQuest and conducted by Dr. Eric T. Meyer, Dean of the School of Information at University of Texas at Austin.

Meyer’s study, “The Scholarly Impacts of Newspapers,” examines the frequency of newspaper citations in scholarly journal articles. Meyer tracked how often four globally recognized titles – The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Guardian – were cited in academic journals between 2000 and 2017. The study revealed several notable trends, including:

  • The use of newspapers in research is steadily climbing. The highest-ever number of newspaper citations was recorded in 2013, with a slight downward trend in recent years.
  • Newspapers are most often cited in social sciences, health and medicine, business, and the hard sciences, although they are cited in every academic discipline.
  • Newspapers are used in research globally. Each of the four titles was most frequently cited by scholars from universities in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
  • Each newspaper title shows distinctive patterns across disciplines. For example, The New York Times is most influential to research in international and diplomatic studies, psychology, culture, technology, business, and health and medicine. In comparison, citations from The Wall Street Journal are clustered around areas of business, finance, and management.

“From the data collected in this study, we’re able to determine that newspapers are an important resource for researchers,” said Meyer, who was a Professor of Social Informatics and Director of Graduate Studies at Oxford Internet Institute when the report was published. “Their content is relevant across disciplines, institutions, and countries. Whether a researcher is looking for information on a historical or current event, they often turn to news coverage as an important scholarly source.”

“Dr. Meyer’s findings substantiate what ProQuest has heard from our customers and end-users for years: that primary sources, including newspapers, are crucial at all levels of the research, teaching and learning process,” said Susan Bokern, Vice President, Product Management, ProQuest. “Today’s libraries need a substantial collection of news to support their patrons and their research.”