ERIC Number: ED402823
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov-2
Reference Count: N/A
Interpreting Biglan's "Hard-Soft" Dimension of Disciplinary Variation. ASHE Annual Meeting Paper.
Hargens, Lowell L.
Anthony Biglan (1973) proposed a typology of academic disciplines that identified three dimensions of academics' perceptions of the similarity of fields of scholarship: (1) "hard-soft", (2) "pure-applied", and (3) "life-non-life". Derek Price (1965) suggested that bibliographic data could be used to provide an assessment of whether hard and soft fields vary as suggested by Biglan's interpretation. Using reference network graphs of publication patterns of citation patterns, Price argued that in research areas exhibiting high levels of consensus, scholars tend to cite recently published documents but in fields with low levels of consensus, there is no disproportional citation of recent work. To assess Price's argument, this study collected data in nine research areas in disciplines spanning Biglan's hard-soft dimension. Using published reviews in each area and indices, publication lists were created of cited works. The results are generally consistent with Biglan's interpretation of the hard-soft dimension as reflecting disciplinary differences in consensus. Four physical science specialties showed over-citation of recent papers while the four social and behavioral science areas showed under-citation of recent papers. One area, in mathematics, did not show the predicted results. The consistency between the results found and Biglan's interpretation of the nature of the "hard-soft" dimension, provides a measure of support for Biglan's interpretation. (Contains 16 references.) (JLS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A