Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January, 2003)


Contemporary developments in Baha段 studies:

an examination using citation analysis

 

Seena Fazel[1]

 

 

Abstract

The last decade has been an eventful time in Baha段 studies. This paper will investigate contemporary developments using the technique of citation analysis, a widely used method to report trends in academia. Citations in academic literature on the Babi-Baha段 religions in 1997-2001 are compared with ten and twenty years previously. Over the last decade, the number of articles being published in non-Baha段 periodicals has halved. The proportion of women writers is 27% - a similar finding to 10 years previously. The most cited journal, using impact factor and uncitedness data, is the Baha段 Studies Review. The most cited books are those published by university presses or in Kalimat Press Studies in the Babi and Baha段 Religion series. These findings are discussed in relation to some of the other developments in Baha段 studies.

 

 

Introduction

The last ten years has been an eventful time in Baha段 studies. Positive developments include the wider availability of Baha段 primary and secondary sources on the Internet, [2]the development of a bibliographic guide to academic Baha段 studies,[3] and the publication of a number of academic monographs on the Babi-Baha段 religions by leading university presses.[4] On the other hand, there have been some notable setbacks. These include the delay in publishing any of the Baha段 encyclopedia project,[5] the occasional use of scholarly Internet discussion lists for non-scholarly purposes, and a handful of Baha段 researchers who had 菟ublic disagreements with Baha段 institutional representatives over the nature of their Internet postings. With all this activity, what has happened to the actual work in Baha段 studies? This paper reports on trends in Baha段 studies using the method of citation analysis.

Citation analysis is a widely used tool in academia to assess the impact of scholarly output and trends in scholarship in a particular field by tracking references in the footnotes and bibliography of academic articles. Citation analysis is considered to be more objective than qualitative judgments, which are prone to bias and favoritism. It is therefore widely used to rate academic journals, departments, and individual researchers for external assessments, including grant proposals. [6]

This paper reports a citation analysis on articles in English about the Bah癇 Faith published in major Bah癇 and other journals during 1997-2001, and compares them with similar citation analyses ten and twenty years ago. I aimed to identify: i) the most cited journals, books,and authors; ii) any changes in such citation patterns between the three time periods; iii) the contribution of female authors to Bah癇 studies; iv) any emerging trends in the content of Bah癇 studies.

 

 

Methods

Sources

Citations were manually searched in articles on the B畸-Bah癇 religions published during the years 1997-2001 in two sources: i) non-Bah癇 journals listed in multi-disciplinary bibliographic indexes using the keywords 釘abi* and 釘ahai* (e.g. Religion Index, Index Islamicus, Econlit, Philosopher痴 Index, ATLA Religion Database); ii) the following Bah癇 journals: World Order (WO) [Wilmette, USA], The Journal of Bah癇 Studies (JBS) [Ottawa, Canada], Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha段 Studies (H-Net Academic Consortium, Michigan State University) and The Bah癇 Studies Review (BSR) [London, UK]; iii) and correspondence with Baha段 librarians and bibliophiles. [7]

 

Criteria for citations

References and footnotes in articles were inspected and citations counted to secondary Bah癇 literature. References to an author痴 non-Baha段 work did not count, so that,for example, Moojan Momen痴 An Introduction to Shi訴 Islam was not included. As per standard methods, only original papers and research notes were included in the analyses, and therefore books, chapters in books, monographs, book reviews, commentaries, editorials, and essays in journals were omitted. Joint authorship yielded one citation to each author. Translators and editorsonly received citations if their work was part of a wider analytic study, which may have included, for instance, a commentary and translation of primary Baha段 text. Full details of these methods are found in a previous paper. [8]

 

Journals

Two measures of journal citation were used. First, the 妬mpact factor adjusts for bias arising from the unequal number of articles published in different journals. It is derived by dividing the number of times a journal was cited by the number of articles it has published. [9] It excludes any self-citations from its analysis. In this study, the five-year journal impact factor[10] was used, which was calculated for Journal X by:

 

A = citations in 2000and 2001 to articles published in Journal X during 1996-2000

B = number of articles published in Journal X during 1996-2000

C = A/B = five-year impact factor

 

In addition, the 砥ncitedness index was calculated which determines howmany articles published in a particular journal did not receive a single citationduring 2000-2001.[11] For this measure, self-citations are not excluded. It was workedout for Journal X in the following way:

 

A = total number ofarticles of Journal X cited at least once in 2000-2001

B = total number of articles of Journal X since it began publication[12]

C = 100 - (A/B*100) =uncitedness index

 

Statistical methods

All proportions were tested using standard chi-squared tests, and p values cited.

 
 
Results

Bah癇 journals

Table 1 summarises the output of Bah癇 journals by the sex of thearticles authors for the periods 1996-2001. Table 1 also contains informationon the number of articles in each of the periodicals covered. 12 articles wereincluded from non-Baha段 periodicals compared with 25 in 1988-93. Of the Baha段 journals, WO published the most articles, and 46 (35%) of all journal articleson the Baha段 Faith appeared there. 46% (16/35) of JBS articles were written by women compared with 28% (13/46) female authorship for WO and 13% (3/23) femaleauthorship in BSR, differences that were not significant on statistical testing.[13] Female authorship was 31% in 1978-83 and 21% in 1988-93.[14] Changes in female authorship over these three time periods were not significant (c22=2.0, p=0.4).

Table2 reports the impact factors (the number of times a journal was cited per article it published x 100%) of three Bah癇 journals during 1996-2000.[15] These differences were significant, and the BSR had the highest impactfactor. Table 3 reports the uncitedness index the proportion of articles in a journal that have never been cited. These results were very significant on statistical testing (p<0.0001), and the BSR was the least uncited journal.

 

Bah癇 books and writers

Table 4 lists the most cited books in Bah癇 and other journals during 1997-2001, and compares them to their 1988-93 ranking. Only Modernity and Millennium was published after 1997 and, therefore, may have been disadvantaged by a shorter duration of potential citation than the other leading books. Major non-Bah癇 academic publishing houses published four of the top books. The most cited article or shortpublication in the period was Stephen Lambden痴 鉄inaitic Mysteries publishedin Studies in Honor of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi with 5 citations. Table 5 lists the ten most cited writers during1997-2001, and provides a comparison with their relative positions during1988-93 and 1978-83. Eight of the authors were based in the British Isles when they produced their works. The most cited women are Susan Stiles Maneck and Margit Warburg each with 8 citations.


TABLE 1

Female authorship of Baha段 journals

1996-2001

JBS

WO

BSR

H-Baha段

Other[16]

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. female authors

16 (46%)

13 (28%)

3 (13%)

1 (7%)

2 (17%)

35 (27%)

Total no. articles

35 (100%)

46 (100%)

23 (100%)

15 (100%)

12 (100%)

131 (100%)

c23=6.9;0.05<p<0.10

 

 

TABLE 2

Impact Factors for Baha段 Journals, 1996-2000

 

JBS

WO

BSR

2000/01 citations

5

1

5

No. articles 1996-2000

31

37

16

Impact Factor

22%

3%

32%

c22=6.2;p=0.04

 

 

TABLE 3

Uncitedness index for Baha段 journals

 

JBS

WO

BSR

No. articles cited 2000-01

12

7

10

Total no. articles

140

340

46

Uncitedness index

91%

98%

78%

c22=27.4;p<0.0001

 


TABLE 4

Most cited Baha段 publications

 

Total no. citations                         


(less self-citations) 1988-93                     

ranking

1

 

Amanat, Abbas. Resurrection and Renewal. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989.

 

14

 

 

10

 

 

2=

 

Balyuzi, Hasan. Bah癇u値l疉: The King of Glory. Oxford: George Ronald, 1980.

11

2

 

2=

 

Smith, Peter. The Babi and Baha段 Religions: From Messianic Shi訴sm to a World Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge Univerュsity Press, 1987.

11

1

 

4

 

From Iran East and West: Studies in B畸 and Bah癇 History, volume 2. Eds. J Cole and M Momen. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1986.

10

-

 

5=

 

Cole, Juan. Modernity and Millennium. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

7

-

 

5=

 

Studies in Honor of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi. Studies in the B畸 and Bah癇 Religions, volume 5. Ed. M Momen. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1988.

7

4

 

7=

 

Buck, Christopher. Symbol and Secret. Studies in B畸 and Bah癇 History, volume 6. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995.

6

-

 

7=

 

Momen, Moojan, ed. The B畸 and Bah癇 Religions, 1844-ュ1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts. Oxford: George Ronald, 1981.

6

7

 

7=

 

In Iran: Studies in B畸 and Bah癇 History, volume 3. Ed. P Smith. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1986.

6

10

 

10=

 

Browne, Edward Granville, comp. Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1918.

5

6

 

10=

 

Taherzadeh, Adib. The Revelation of Bah癇u値l疉. Vol. 2. Oxford: George Ronald, 1977.

5

-

 

 

TABLE 5

Most cited authors

 

Author

No. citations

(less self-citations)

1988-93 ranking

1978-83 ranking

1

M. Momen

35

1

5

2=

J. Cole

26

7

-

2=

P. Smith

26

4

10

4

H. Balyuzi

22

2

2

5

E. Browne

16

3

1

6=

A. Amanat

14

-

-

6=

S. Lambden

14

10

-

6=

R. Stockman

14

-

-

9

D. MacEoin

13

5

6

10

A. Taherzadeh

10

6

-

 


Conclusions

 

Citation analysis is just one way of examining trends in Baha段 studies. It does not reflect what material ismost useful for teaching and training purposes, nor does it assume that the most cited work is that of superior intellectual merit. It quantifies what has been found to be useful by those writing on the Baha段 Faith for academic audiences, and does so in a relatively objective way.

 

Journals

There has been a halving of articles on the Baha段 Faith in non-Baha段 periodicals since 1988-93. Part ofthis may be secondary to the success of the Baha段 journals, and one Baha段 academic has suggested that potentially interesting articles may have been drawn out of mainstream or core journals in various fields as a consequence.[17] There has also been a reduction of articles since the 1980s on the persecution of the Baha段s in Iran and the house of worship in New Dehli.[18] The real reasons may well be more complex. Whatever they may be, it is important that Baha段 academics continue to publish in non-Baha段 settings.

Compared to 1988-93, the number of papers per year published by each of the Baha段 journals has changed. In 1988-1993, JBS published 14 articles per year. In the period 1997-2001, this had reduced to 5. WO doubled its output from 4 to 8 articles per year.[19] The BSR remained at 3-4 papers per year. The citation analyses demonstrate that the BSR remains the most cited journal, a similar finding to 1988-93. These differences are also borne out by looking at the bibliography to standard reference works such as A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha段Faith[20] and A Resource Guide to the Scholarly Study of the Baha段 Faith.[21] It would not appear to be a resource issue, in that both JBS and WO have full-time paid editors, while the BSR has been edited on a voluntary basis. The long delays between WO issues in the late 1980s and early 1990s may have undermined its credibility. JBS痴 reputation may have suffered from reprinting articles from elsewhere. Van den Hoonaard has noted the different orientations of these journals, and that the BSR is the most accommodating to current academic methodologies may be relevant.[22] The difference in impact factors between these journals is not explained by number of subscribers JBS has the largest subscription base. This paper also shows that, over the last decade, JBS and WO have become increasingly uncited, although their impact factors have not changed much since 1998-93.[23] In terms of citations to Baha段 periodicals in non-Baha段 journals, unlike 1988-93 where there were very few,[24] the situation has changed, and JBS and BSR both received citations in religious studies, sociology, and Middle East studies journals.

 

Women

The relative contribution of women to Baha段 studies has not changed notably. In 1997-2001, 27% of the articles on the Babi-Baha段 religions in Baha段 and non-Baha段 academic periodicals were written by women. In 1988-93, it was 21% and in 1978-83 it was 31%. This is similar to the proportion of women who have written those articles 斗ikely to find their way in the Baha段 Encyclopedia project that was 27%.[25] Howdoes this compare to the non-Baha段 situation? Information is available on the proportion of women in the academic workforce in different fields for example, in the US in 1995, women formed 40% of the work force in anthropology, 39% in psychology, 36% in sociology, 21% in science and engineering, and 15% in economics.[26]

 

Books

A striking finding is the success of Kalimat Press series, Studiesin the Babi and Baha段 Religions. Four of the nine most cited books are published by Kalimat. Frank Lewis view that Kalimat 塗as proven itself the most important and long-standing forum for the academic study of the Baha段 Faith[27]is endorsed by this study.

Academic presses disproportionately feature. Abbas Amanat痴 Resurrection and Renewal is the most cited book. Part of its success may be in that it is the only academically informed introduction to the Babi movement, and provides an overview of the social history of Qajar Iran.[28] Theenduring value of Peter Smith痴 introduction is significant, and this may partly be due to sociological analysis of the world wide growth and developmentof Baha段 communities that is included there.[29]Balyuzi痴 book on Baha置値lah remains the only comprehensive biography of the founder of the Baha段 Faith.

Overall, however, the level of citations that these works are attracting is not particularly high, and therefore attention should not be paid to the relative differences in ranking. Of note is that anti-Baha段 polemical works do not feature among the most cited works, and the English-speaking academic community, at least, does not appear to take these works seriously.

The overall low level of citations is indicative of ongoing challenges that the Baha段 scholarly community faces. Many academically inclined works make no mention of relevant background literature, let alone build on them. This approach is unscholarly, and may reflect an arrogance and anti-intellectualism that requires addressing.[30]

Citation analysis does not necessarily identify material that has been useful for teaching or external affairs purposes. An alternative approach is to list the most downloaded articles from the Internet. Information is not widely available, most papers can be downloaded from multiple sites, but the Baha段-Library.org website periodically publishes statistics. In the months of July 2001 and September 2002, most of the top five downloaded articles were on Baha段 theology, with articles by Chris Buck on native messengers of God and Moojan Momen on fundamentalism featuring prominently.[31]However, the most downloaded piece is an unpublished article by Robert Stockman on Islam that is part of the curriculum of a distance learning course, the Wilmette Institute. A couple of years earlier in May and December 1999, the most downloaded articles were a critical look at Baha段 perspectives on Christianity, one by Susan Maneck on women, and a philological and theological analysis by Stephen Lambden.[32] Itis interesting to compare this with online journals where, for example, inmedicine, the most downloaded articles are educational overviews, editorials,and current reviews of treatment literature.[33]Baha段 articles linked to the world痴 most visited websites will most probablyhave been downloaded more often.

 

Authors

Van den Hoonaard has proposed the presence of several distinctive scholarly clusters in Baha段 studies, characterized by a preference of methods, choice of subject matter, discourse, and, sometimes, geography. These include British, American, mainland European, Canadian and formally-established Baha段 agencies (such as the Baha段 Chairs at Maryland and Jerusalem). [34] The ascendancy of those individuals who are part of the British Newcastle-upon-Tyne/Lancaster cluster appears to have been confirmed over the last twenty years. Compared to a decade ago, William Hatcher and Douglas Martin have fallen off the list of most cited authors, mainly due to their introductory book on the Baha段 Faith not sustaining its initial impact. The new entrants are Stockman and Amanat, historians trained at Harvard and Oxford respectively.

 

Themes

The impression from this citation analysis is that MiddleEast studies and history are the most prominent subjects in academic Baha段studies. As van den Hoonaard notes, the long-lasting impact of Nabil Zarandi痴 TheDawn Breakers and the historical work of Shoghi Effendi is significant: 的t is not so much the standard, but the very presence of their works that has given a preeminent place to history and Middle Eastern Studies as touchstones of serious Baha段 Studies.[35] In a previous paper, a prediction was made that applying the Baha段 teachings and correlating to the needs of current society would start to feature more prominently in Baha段 studies.[36] This paper has demonstrated that material on these themes has not made any impact in the academic literature on the Baha段 Faith, and no works in the field of peace studies, socio-economic development, or women痴 studies have featured in this citation analysis. The anticipated 渡ew turn in Baha段 studies[37]does not appear to have materialized.

Future directions

What direction might this new turn take? Two areas of Baha段 scholarship appear to offer promising possibilities. The first is empirical studies of contemporary challenges to the Baha段 community. The Baha段 community has gathered a vast experience in certain matters, and scholarship is one way to systematize and disseminate this accumulated knowledge. The nature of pioneering, growth trends, interracial marriage, the integration of Persian refugees, the Baha段 education of children, social and economic development, and the participation of women in Baha段 community life are potentially interesting areas of enquiry. The second area that Baha段 studies may turn to is the Baha段 response to contemporary problems. What are the problems with globalization? What are the limits to freedom? What does the economic and political integration of Europe imply for the concept of the unity of humankind? Why is it reasonable in the 21st century to believe in religion? What makes people happy? What is the Baha段 response to the New Age movement? Many more subjects await further work.

 

 



[1] Formerly co-editor of the Baha段 Studies Review (until May 2002).

[2] H-Bahai for primary texts and the Baha段 Academics Resource Library for secondary literature have been leading examples (at www.h-net.org/~bahai and www.bahai-library.org respectively).

[3] R Stockmanand J Winters, A resource guide to the scholarly study of the Baha段 Faith(6th ed. Wilmette: Baha段 Publishing Trust, 1997) on http://www.bahai-library.org/books/rg/.

[4] See, e.g.,Christopher Buck, Paradise and Paradigm: Key Symbols in Persian Christianity and the Baha段 Faith (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999);Juan R.I. Cole, Modernity and the Millennium: the Genesis of the Baha'iFaith in the Nineteenth-Century Middle East (New York: Columbia UniversityPress, 1998); Michael McMullen, The Baha段: the religious costruction of aglobal identity (Rutgers University Press, 2000); and Will van den Hoonaard, The Origins of the Baha段 Community of Canada 1898-1948(Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996).

[5] This project was started in 1986 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha段s of the USA. An informative update ofthe Encyclopedia project was written by John Walbridge, a former editor and member of the editorial board, in Associate (newsletter of the ABS-ESE) no. 18/19 (Winter 1995): 5-6. At that point, he estimated that the project had cost $500,000. The current editor wrote to all contributors in 1998, explaining that the editorial board anticipated an interim volume of selected articles beginning with letters A and B being published in 1998 (Associate no. 27[Winter 1999]: 9-10). Some of the articles appear on the Baha段 Library website.

[6] For a widerdiscussion of the pros and cons of citation analysis, see S Fazel and J Danesh, 釘aha段 scholarship: an examination by citation analysis, Baha段 StudiesReview 5.1 (1995): 13-26 (http://www.bahai-library.org/bsr/bsr05/52_fazel_citations.htm).

[7] Most of therelevant papers found in these databases are listed in Baha段 Studies Review8 (1998): 115-117 and Baha段 Studies Review 10 (2001/2): 179-182.

[8] Fazel andDanesh, 釘aha段 Scholarship.

[9] E. Garfield, Citation Indexing: Its theory and application inscience, technolュogy, and humanities (New York: John Wiley & Sons,1979) 149.

[10] E. Garfield, 典he Impact Factor, Current Contents 13 (20 June 1994): 3-7.

[11] D. Pendelbury, Science 251 (1991): 1410-11.

[12] Excluding book reviews, essays, commentaries, reports (including US Senate/Congress submissions and resolutions), corrections, editorials, and poems.

[13] H-Bahai and徹ther were combined for this analysis.

[14] Fazel and Danesh, 釘aha段 scholarship.

[15] Occasional Papers in the Shaykhi, Babi and Baha段 Studies was not included as Internet-based journals are not comparable to those published in traditional ways.

[16] Articles in non-Baha段 academic periodicals.

[17] Will van den Hoonaard, 填nfreezing the frame.

[18] For numbers of articles involved, see S. Fazel, 典he Baha段 Faith and academic journals, Baha段 Studies Review 3.2 (1993): 81-90.

[19] In 1997-2001, there were changes to the editorial boards of JBS and WO.

[20] This work cites 6 articles from the BSR, 3 from WO, and 2 from JBS. 10 are cited from Baha段 Studies Bulletin (ed. S. Lambden and published in 1982-1992). The Encyclopedia is written by Peter Smith (Oxford: Oneworld, 2002). Baha段 Studies Bulletin was not included in this citation analysis because it was discontinued in 1992. However, as these figures indicate, it remains an active journal.

[21] Only 19% ofBSR articles are uncited in the 1997 (and latest) edition of the Resource Guide.

[22] Will van den Hoonaard, 填nfreezing the frame: the promise of inductive research in Baha段 studies, Baha段 Studies Review 10 (2001/2002): 103-114 (http://bahai-library.org/bsr/bsr10/10C5_hoonaard_unfeezing.htm).

[23] For aparticular journal, impact factors from 1988-93 are not strictly comparable tothe ones in 1997-2001 as the baseline number of articles covered was more in 1998-93 (168 articles) compared to the 131 papers in the latter time period.

[24] Fazel andDanesh, 釘aha段 Scholarship.

[25] Will van den Hoonaard, 典he social organization of mentorship in Baha段 studies, Journalof Baha段 Studies 8.3 (1998): 19-38.

[26] NationalResearch Council, From Scarcity to Visibility: Gender differences in the careers of doctoral scientists and engineers (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001).

[27] Franklin Lewis, Review of 鉄tudies in Honor of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi, ed. M. Momen,Iranian Studies 32 (1999): 145-148. Lewis adds, 適alimat痴 dedication to providing scholars of the Baha段 Faith a forum to present their research, despite the commercial and communal problems encountered in the process, is greatly to be admired.

[28] 鄭 standard source for the study of Babism, Qajar Iran, and religious movements in the Islamic world is the view of F. Kazemi in the International Journal of Middle East Studies 23 (1991): 408-9.

[29]Fazel and Danesh, 釘aha段 scholarship. The Amanat and Smith books together received 15 book reviews. See S Fazel, 迭eviews of books on the Babi-Baha段 religions in academic journals, Associate 7 (1993): 4-5.

[30] Peter Khan and Udo Schaefer have noted this unfortunate tendency in Baha段 communities. See P Khan, 鉄ome aspects of Baha段 scholarship, JBS 9.4 (1999): 43-64; U. Schaefer, 鼎hallenges to Baha段 studies, BSR 2.1 (1992): 25-32.

[31] In September 2002, the most downloaded articles were by K. Khavari, 溺arriage and the nuclear family Baha段 Studies Notebook 3.1/2 (289 downloads that month); C. Buck, 哲ative messengers, BSR 6 (216); R. Landau, 摘nvironment(157); M. Momen, 擢undamentalism and liberalism, BSR 2.1 (144); Fazel and Fananapazir, 的nterpretation, BSR 2.1 (122). In July 2001, the top five were: Buck, 哲ative messengers (206 downloads); L. Abdo, 擢emale representations,韮SR 4.1 (191); Momen, 擢undamentalism, (160); Stevens and Lewis, 撤ersian refugees (131); A-M Ghadirian, 滴uman responses to life stress, Baha段 Studies Notebook 3.1/2 (124). This information is available on the Baha段 Library website under 鉄tatistics for the BSR articles, one needs to add the number of downloads from the 菟ublished articles part of the website to the number from the BSR section that is mirrored on the Baha段 Library.

[32] In December 1999, the most downloaded articles were by F. Beckwith, 釘aha段-Christian dialogue, (53 downloads that month); S. Lambden, 典he word 腺aha樗 BSR 3.1(31); S. Maneck, 展omen and the Baha段 Faith (31). In May 1999, the most downloaded articles were by S. Maneck, 展omen (38); F. Beckwith,釘aha段-Christian, (33); S. Lambden, 典he word 腺aha樗 (21).

[33] See, e.g., BritishMedical Journal 325 (2002):1428.

[34] van den Hoonaard, 填nfreezing the frame.

[35] van den Hoonaard, 典he social organization of mentorship.

[36] Fazel and Danesh, 釘aha段 scholarship.

[37] van den Hoonaard, 典he social organization of mentorship.




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