Who Are We Citing and How? A SoTL Citation Analysis





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.


Metrics Loading ...

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).


Bass, Randy. 1999. “The Scholarship of Teaching: What’s the Problem?” Inventio: Creative Thinking about Learning and Teaching 1, no. 1: 1–10. https://my.vanderbilt.edu/sotl/files/2013/08/Bass-Problem1.pdf.

Chang, Yu-Wei. 2013. “A Comparison of Citation Contexts between Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities.” Scientometrics 96, no. 2: 535–53. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-013-0956-1.

Chick, Nancy L., Gary Poole, and Galicia Blackman. (n.d.). “Peer Review in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.”

Creamer, Elizabeth G., Peter Musaeus, and Cherie Edwards. 2018. “Extending the Use of References to the Literature: Lessons from a Content Analysis of Mixed Method Case Exemplars.” International Journal of Educational Research, no. 89, 59–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2017.07.007.

Fraser, Kym, and Ekaterina Pechenkina. 2020. “Research Paradigms Underpinning Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Papers: A Comparative Analysis of Two Journals.” Emerging Methods and Paradigms in Scholarship and Education Research, edited by Lorraine Ling and Peter Ling, 70–82. Hershey: Information Science Reference.

Halevi, Gali. 2013. “Citation Characteristics in the Arts and Humanities.” Research Trends, no. 32. https://www.researchtrends.com/issue-32-march-2013/citation-characteristics-in-the-arts-humanities-2/.

Hellqvist, Björn. 2010. “Referencing in the Humanities and its Implications for Citation Analysis.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 61, no. 2: 310–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21256.

Huber, Mary Taylor, and Pat Hutchings. 2005. “Surveying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons, by Mary Taylor Huber and Pat Hutchings, 1–16. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Larsson, Maria, Katarina Mårtensson, Linda Price, and Torgny Roxå. 2017. “Constructive Friction? Exploring Patterns between Educational Research and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” Paper presented at the 2nd EuroSoTL Conference, Lund, Sweden, June 8–9, 2017.

MacMillan, Margy. 2018. “The SoTL Literature Review: Exploring New Territory.” In SoTL in Action: Illuminating Critical Moments of Practice, edited by Nancy L. Chick, 23–31. Sterling: Stylus Publishing.

Manarin, Karen. 2018. “Close Reading.” In SoTL in Action: Illuminating Critical Moments of Practice, edited by Nancy L. Chick, 100–8. Sterling: Stylus.

McKinney, Kathleen. 2010. Enhancing Learning through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling. Boston: Anker.

Miller-Young, Janice, and Michelle Yeo. 2015. “Conceptualizing and Communicating SoTL: A Framework for the Field.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry 3, no. 2: 37–53. http://dx.doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.3.2.37.

Miller-Young, Janice, Michelle Yeo, and Karen Manarin. 2018. “Challenges to Disciplinary Knowing and Identity: Experiences of Scholars in a SoTL Development Program.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12, no. 1, article 3. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2018.120103.

Moed, Henk F. 2005. Citation Analysis in Research Evaluation. Dordrecht: Springer.

Roxå, Torgny. 2018. “Making Use of Educational Research in Higher Education—Academic Teachers Engaged in Translational Research.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 6, no. 2: 67–80. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.6.2.6.

Štěpánková, Jana. 2012. “Intertextuality in Academic Writing: Citation in Soft and Hard Sciences.” PhD diss., Charles University. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11956/46169.

Tabatabaei, Nahid. 2013. “Contribution of Information Science to Other Disciplines as Reflected in Citation Contexts of Highly Cited JASIST Papers.” PhD diss., McGill University.

Tight, Malcolm. 2017. “Tracking the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” Policy Reviews in Higher Education 2, no. 1: 61–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/23322969.2017.1390690

Thomson, Pat. 2018. “Five Clues—Choosing the Right Journal.” Patter (personal blog), July 23, 2018. https://patthomson.net/2018/07/23/five-clues-to-choosing-the-right-journal/.

Weimer, Maryellen. 2006. Enhancing Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning: Professional Literature that Makes a Difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zhao, Dangzhi, Alicia Cappello, and Lucinda Johnston. 2016. “Functions of Uni- and Multi-citations: Implications for Weighted Citation Analysis.” Journal of Data and Information Science 2, no. 1: 51–69. https://doi.org/10.1515/jdis-2017-0003.

Zhao, Dangzhi, and Andreas Strotmann. 2015. Analysis and Visualization of Citation Networks. San Raphael: Morgan & Claypool.




How to Cite

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