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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More on Citation Measurement

According to JSTOR, many of the most frequent articles downloaded from Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea are about Lorca. Not surprising, since he is the most canonical figure of 20th century peninsular literature. So the chances that an article on Lorca will be cited are much greater than the chances of an article on Antonio Gamoneda. ALEC has never even published an article on Gamoneda, in fact.

If I want to produce new knowledge, I would be better off writing about Gamoneda. But, since nobody else in the US except for me works on this poet, my citations will be very low. Who needs yet another article on Lorca? Well, we could call for a moratorium, but an article I write on Lorca is likely to pick up far more citations. My book on Rodríguez, a major, major figure, has only a few citations, for example.

So the idea that there is too much scholarship, but at the same time much of it gets uncited, is a curious one. An article on more popular topic gets more citations, but contributes less to the field.

I also reject the idea that we should simply stop writing about canonical figures, because they are exhausted. If you look at some of most-cited articles from ALEC, they are very good ones, ones which do contribute new knowledge. In my own work I have shown that Lorca is not exhausted, that everything possible has not been said about his work, ni mucho menos.

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