LIS research across 50 years: content analysis of journal articles

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Purpose: This paper analyses the research in Library and Information Science (LIS) and reports on (1) the status of LIS research in 2015 and (2) on the evolution of LIS research longitudinally from 1965 to 2015. Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a quantitative intellectual content analysis of articles published in 30+ scholarly LIS journals, following the design by Tuomaala et al. (2014). In the content analysis, we classify articles along eight dimensions covering topical content and methodology. Findings: The topical findings indicate that the earlier strong LIS emphasis on L&I services has declined notably, while scientific and professional communication has become the most popular topic. Information storage and retrieval has given up its earlier strong position towards the end of the years analyzed. Individuals are increasingly the units of observation. End-user's and developer's viewpoints have strengthened at the cost of intermediaries' viewpoint. LIS research is methodologically increasingly scattered since survey, scientometric methods, experiment, case studies and qualitative studies have all gained in popularity. Consequently, LIS may have become more versatile in the analysis of its research objects during the years analyzed. Originality/value: Among quantitative intellectual content analyses of LIS research, the study is unique in its scope: length of analysis period (50 years), width (8 dimensions covering topical content and methodology) and depth (the annual batch of 30+ scholarly journals).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-88
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Content analysis
  • Information science
  • Library and information science
  • Longitudinal study
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Statistical analysis

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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