Knowledge source of humanities and social sciences research more diversified

By By Wang Yongbin / 08-01-2013 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)
Respect more on intellectual property
It is revealed through analyzing CSSCI data that the average citation quantity for each piece of paper and cited reference ratio for Chinese humanities and social sciences research have gradually increased year by year.  It indicates that humanities and social sciences researchers and scholars focus more and more on using others’ achievements as reference, respecting intellectual property and accumulating knowledge.  In a way, the increase of citation quantity at least proves that Chinese humanities and social sciences research have been on the right track, which reflexes that researchers and scholars can absorb and refer to research achievements in order to continually deepen humanities and social sciences research. Not only in the cited reference ratio but also in the average citation quantity for each piece of paper there is a big gap for Chinese humanities and social sciences research to be bridged with those of natural science journal articles. According to statistics of Chinese Science Citation Database (CSCD) in 2004, the average citation quantity for each piece of paper for natural science journal articles is more than ten; on the contrary, the average citation quantity for each piece of paper for CSSCI is only 7.38. Cited reference is a significant indicator for reflecting the influence of the publication of academic literature. However, the low-quality literature is in the majority of the newly published academic literature of Chinese humanities and social sciences, which means that the majority of academic literature has never been cited since it was released. The study shows that more than 90% of cited reference from annual included paper by CSSCI has been cited only once in the same year, which indicates that the citation divergence is really high.  On the one hand, Chinese humanities and social sciences research has a wide range of aspects, which embodies academic openness and diversity. On the other hand, it demonstrates that the proportion of high-quality academic literature is still very low and the output-utilization ratio of literature is on the low side as well. 
Citation of books and journal papers are the main references
From the point of view of citation type, every main type medium of citation quantity has basically uprisen with an increase of total citation.  In so far as the humanities and social sciences research, the statistics reveals that the main type of cited reference is books, journal papers and collections of references, which the total quantity of the first two types and the total quantity of the three types are nearly 80% and 90% respectively of total citation quantity. This shows that books are still the most reliable academic literature type for scholars in Chinese humanities and social sciences field.  The significance and influence of journal papers have become more and more vital and the historical value of collections of cited reference also has an irreplaceable function. In general, journal papers and internet resource report the newly research achievements and results and focus on the newly research questions much faster than general books.  One nonnegligible trend is internet resource as a newly rising force in all kinds of literature citations.  There are more and more scholars focusing on internet resource and the citation from internet resource increases 50 times than those since the year from 1998 to 2007. It pinpoints that with the development of social informationization level and the richness of internet resource more and more researchers are fond of internet resource in the pursuit of their timeliness, convenience and quickness. It is obvious that internet resource will become one important academic resource for humanities and social sciences research.  
Most citation is from Chinese literature
The statistics of literature citation languages show that Chinese literature citation (including translation texts) are the primary sources of Chinese humanities and social sciences knowledge all the time.  From the ten years series (between 1998 to 2007) the average proportion of each language literature citation in the total has reached 78.81%.  It is relatively obvious that the increasing speed of English as cited literature in the total for all varieties of foreign languages.  With China’s daily openness and nternationalization, information sources from foreign countries (especially European and American developed countries) have a wide and profound influence for Chinese humanities and social sciences research. Particularly, English literature takes an extremely important place, which relatively reflects that English-speaking countries takes discourse dominance in global knowledge system. However, most citation is still quoted from Chinese literature. But it means neither the localization of academic resource and academic thoughts nor the powerless influence of foreign academics. Although the amount of citation is not big, cited references are viewpoints, concepts and thoughts, their influence is still vital or evenly tremendous that is the experienced facts in recent years. More remarkably, even if in some “imported” foreign language citations are relatively low, it further indicates that our understanding of foreign research achievements and foreign thoughts and trends mainly through Chinese translation texts.  It cannot be simply concluded that the ability of using foreign academic literature for our researchers is low or there are some accessible problems of foreign resources. To sum up, the potential problem of less foreign language literature is deeply rooted in the huge difference of academic ideas, research methods and theoretical paradigms from foreign countries. 
Wang Yongbin is from Lanzhou Jiaotong University.
Chinese Social Sciences Today, No.304, May 16, 2012.
Translated by Zhang Mengying