Open bibliography of quantitative studies of philosophy

Below you can find a reasoned bibliography of quantitative (data-driven) studies in the history of recent areas of philosophy, with a focus on bibliometric and scientometric analyses. Links to the articles (or preprinted) are provided when possible.

NB Version 0.1, based on a work by Eugenio Petrovich, Research Fellow at the Department of Political Economy and Statistics, University of Siena (Italy). Future version will be released based (among other things) on visistors’ suggestion. Therefore, any comment is very welcome!

(Ahlgren et al. 2015) used various science mapping techniques (co-citation analysis and co-occurrence of terms) to map topical subdomains in philosophy (free will and sorites debates)

(Byron 2007) focused on philosophy of biology, using bibliometric data to assess the traditional historical account of the emergence of this sub-discipline in philosophy of science.

(Cronin, Shaw, and La Barre 2003) chronicled the use of acknowledgements in Twentieth-century philosophy and psychology. They demonstrated how acknowledgement has gradually established itself as a constitutive element of academic writing, and how it can be used to reveal “subautorship” forms of collaboration.

(Cullars 1998) examined 539 references from 183 English-language philosophy monographs published in 1984. Several characteristics of the citations were analyzed, including the language of the cited document, the gender of both citing and cited authors, the citing author’s attitude towards the cited material, and the subject correlation between citing and cited documents. The author concluded that citation patterns in philosophy are typically humanistic, with the bulk of citations pointing to books rather than journal articles.

(Hyland 1999) explored the ways in which academic citation practices contribute to the construction of disciplinary knowledge. The author analyzed a multi-disciplinary corpus of 80 research articles from different disciplines (including philosophy) and interviewed experienced researchers about their citation practices. Hyland concluded that philosophy, in line with other soft disciplines such as marketing and sociology, employed more citations than hard-science disciplines such as physics and engineering. However, the author suggests that citation in philosophy plays a different role to the one it plays in the hard sciences: citations are not primarily used to extend the thread of knowledge but to position the writer in relation to views that the author supports or opposes. This is clear also from the choice of report verbs used by philosophers to introduce the citation: contrary to the sciences, where neutral report verbs (such as “present” and “report”) are common, in philosophy evaluative report verbs (such as “overlook”, “exaggerate”), that flag agreement or disagreement with the cited reference, are the most frequently used.

(Kreuzman 2001) used co-citation analysis techniques to map the interaction between epistemology and philosophy of science.

(Petrovich 2018a) highlights some methodological features of two citation analysis-based studies in history of analytic philosophy (Petrovich and Buonomo 2018; Petrovich 2018c).

(Petrovich 2018b) analyzes how the accumulation of knowledge takes place in para-scientific areas, focusing on the case of Analytic Philosophy. A sample of 60 papers published in leading Analytic Philosophy journals between 1950 and 2009 is analyzed, and a specific classificatory scheme is developed to classify citations according to their epistemological function. Compared to previous studies of citation context, this is the first paper that includes the temporal dimension into the analysis of citation context, in order to gain insights into the process of knowledge accumulation. The results show that Analytic Philosophy started accumulating after Second World War, but this was not matched by a corresponding rising consensus. This can be explained by the hypothesis that AP underwent a process of fragmentation in sub-fields during the second half of the century.

(Petrovich 2018c) replies to (Wray 2018). First, it clarifies the method used to assess the transition of Analytic Philosophy to a normal science phase, explaining in more details the epistemological role that different types of citations play. Second, it addresses the topic of the relationship between the normal science and the aging of the literature, arguing that more research is needed to understand the epistemological meaning of aging.

(Petrovich and Buonomo 2018) present a quantitative approach to history of late analytic philosophy. In the first section, it focuses on methodological issues. It discusses the relations between history of philosophy and metaphilosophy, distinguish between qualitative and quantitative history of philosophy, and present the theoretical framework chosen for the quantitative study of late analytic philosophy, namely scientometrics and citation analysis. In the second section, it discusses the results of our method. The authors present a list of high-impact authors in late analytic philosophy and analyze the evolution of the field in the light of citation networks (science maps) generated by VOSviewer. Finally, they propose several lines for further research.

(Sula and Miller 2014) used sentiment analysis to automatically classify citations in four different humanistic journals (including The Journal of Philosophy) and discovered that philosophy showed the most negative polarity, i.e. philosophers frequently dissociate from cited documents, providing critical commentaries on others’ work.

(Wray 2010) determined the key journals of philosophy of science by counting how many times those journals are cited in leading philosophy of science companions.

(Wray 2014) examined the degree of specialization in various sub-fields of philosophy, starting from data obtained from surveying professional philosophers. 

(Wray 2018) takes issue with (Petrovich 2018b) way of measuring normal science. It advances a different method to measure normal science based on the ageing of scientific literature.

(Wray and Bornmann 2015) used an advanced bibliometric method (RPYS, Referenced Publication Year Spectroscopy) to identify peaks in citations in philosophy of science.

Cited references

Ahlgren, Per, Peter Pagin, Olle Persson, and Maria Svedberg. 2015. ‘Bibliometric Analysis of Two Subdomains in Philosophy: Free Will and Sorites’. Scientometrics 103 (1): 47–73.

Byron, J. M. 2007. ‘Whence Philosophy of Biology?’ The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (3): 409–22.

Cronin, Blaise, Debora Shaw, and Kathryn La Barre. 2003. ‘A Cast of Thousands: Coauthorship and Subauthorship Collaboration in the 20th Century as Manifested in the Scholarly Journal Literature of Psychology and Philosophy’. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 54 (9): 855–71.

Cullars, John M. 1998. ‘Citation Characteristics of English-Language Monographs in Philosophy’. Library & Information Science Research 20 (1): 41–68.

Hyland, K. 1999. ‘Academic Attribution: Citation and the Construction of Disciplinary Knowledge’. Applied Linguistics 20 (3): 341–67.

Kreuzman, Henry. 2001. ‘A Co-Citation Analysis of Representative Authors in Philosophy: Examining the Relationship between Epistemologists and Philosophers of Science’. Scientometrics 51 (3): 525–39.

Petrovich, Eugenio. 2018a. ‘Forms, Patterns, Structures. Citation Analysis and the History of Analytic Philosophy’. Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas 7 (13): 1–21.

———. 2018b. ‘Accumulation of Knowledge in Para-Scientific Areas: The Case of Analytic Philosophy’. Scientometrics 116 (2): 1123–51.

———. 2018c. ‘Reply to Wray’. Scientometrics, July.

Petrovich, Eugenio, and Valerio Buonomo. 2018. ‘Reconstructing Late Analytic Philosophy. A Quantitative Approach’. Philosophical Inquiries 6 (1).

Sula, C. A., and M. Miller. 2014. ‘Citations, Contexts, and Humanistic Discourse: Toward Automatic Extraction and Classification’. Literary and Linguistic Computing 29 (3): 452–64.

Wray, K. Brad. 2010. ‘Philosophy of Science: What Are the Key Journals in the Field?’ Erkenntnis 72 (3): 423–30.

———. 2014. ‘Specialization in Philosophy: A Preliminary Study’. Scientometrics 98 (3): 1763–69.

———. 2018. ‘A Note on Measuring Normal Science’. Scientometrics, July.

Wray, K. Brad, and Lutz Bornmann. 2015. ‘Philosophy of Science Viewed through the Lense of “Referenced Publication Years Spectroscopy” (RPYS)’. Scientometrics 102 (3): 1987–96.