From the Library to the Field: Changing Methodological Preferences of Humanities Researchers, 1992-2012

Lasse Gøhler Johansson, Jutta Maria Vikman, Andreas Jan Liljenstrøm, Simo Køppe

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What is humanities research? What characterizes the methodological preferences of humanities researchers: their choices of theory, empirical sources and analytical methods/techniques? And how have these preferences changed in recent years? This paper discusses the methods and results of a study of the methodological preferences of humanities researchers in Denmark. The study is based on a systematic reading of all humanities PhD dissertations defended at Danish universities between 1992 and 2012 (N=1,958). It uses simple descriptive statistics to analyze changes in the methodological preferences of humanities researchers during that period. One could say that the study combines a more humanistic approach (the reading of texts) with a more social scientific approach (statistical analysis). The main finding of the study is that ethnography is slowly replacing the interpretation of texts as the preferred methodology of humanities researchers, as the field moves into the 21st century. We discuss the historical conditions of these changes, including the influence from the intellectual current known as post-modernism and from research policy increasingly pressing for application-oriented research (as opposed to fundamental research). Finally, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using PhD dissertations as a source for studying research practices in the humanities. We compare to other approaches, including bibliometric, ethnographic and survey-based.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMapeando as Dinâmicas das Humanidades no Brasil, Rio de Janeiro
Publication date21 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2017
EventSeminário Internacional Mapeando as Dinâmicas das Humanidades no Brasil -
Duration: 19 Sep 201721 Sep 2017


ConferenceSeminário Internacional Mapeando as Dinâmicas das Humanidades no Brasil

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