Information Literacy in Social Sciences and Health Sciences: A Bibliometric Study (1974-2011)

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PINTO, M., ESCALONA, M.I., PULGARIN A.. Scientometrics, 2013, 95, 3, pp. 1071-1094


We examine the international scientific productivity on information literacy since its inception in 1974 until late 2011, based on a bibliometric analysis of scientific articles included in the web of science and Scopus databases. The sample comprised two macro-domains—the most productive and the least productive. The former was the area of social sciences (SoS), covering such disciplines as information and documentation, communication, education, management, etc. The latter was the area of health sciences (HeS), covering such disciplines as medicine, nursing, etc. The objective of the study was to analyse the evolution of research activity during this period, taking into account the authors’ production, the distribution and co-authorship of the works, the affiliation, and the most frequently used journals. A quantitative and qualitative methodological approach was taken, based on statistical, mathematical, and content analyses. The results showed exponential growth of the scientific publications in both domains (R 2 = 0.9544 for SoS, and R 2 = 0.9393 for HeS), with a predominance of Anglo-Saxon authors. Author productivity was low (1.29 and 1.12 papers/author), while the dispersion of articles by journal averaged 4.96 in SoS and 1.86 in HeS. Scientific collaboration exceeded 53 % in the SoS domain and 69 % in HeS. There was a major dispersion of the places of the authors’ affiliation. In both domains, the author distributions fitted Lotka’s law, and the journal distributions Bradford’s Law.