Who Are We Citing and How? A SoTL Citation Analysis

Keywords: citation analysis, SoTL, literature review, references


The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is continuing to develop as a multidisciplinary, international field of practice and a topic of study itself. As the field matures, one area of interest has been the SoTL literature review. However, there has not been an evidence-based study of SoTL citation practices. The purpose of this study was to analyze one year’s worth of articles from this journal to see how references and in-text citations are used. Overall, 514 references and 954 in-text citations were found across 18 articles. A diverse range of multidisciplinary and specialized academic journals were cited; 8 percent of in-text citations cited a source other than an academic journal. Each reference and in-text citation was coded as either substantive (Applied, Contrastive, or Supportive) or non-substantive (Reviewed or Perfunctory). A high rate of in-text citations (74 percent) were found to be non-substantive, with the majority of non-substantive in-text citations (71 percent) found in either the Introduction or Literature Review sections of the articles. Conversely, of the 26 percent of in-text citations considered substantive, 50 percent were found in either the Results & Discussion or Conclusion sections. We demonstrate the use of the coding scheme as a self-assessment tool and conclude by suggesting that SoTL authors and reviewers could use it to assess the depth and breadth of their literature reviews.

Author Biographies

Alicia Cappello, University of Alberta

Alicia Cappello has an MLIS and an MA in Digital Humanities from the University of Alberta (CAN).

Janice Miller-Young, University of Alberta

Janice Miller-Young is Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Alberta (CAN).


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How to Cite
Cappello, Alicia, and Janice Miller-Young. 2020. “Who Are We Citing and How? A SoTL Citation Analysis”. Teaching & Learning Inquiry 8 (2), 3-16. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.2.2.