A Qualitative Study of Citing Behavior: Contributions, Criteria, and
Metalevel Documentation Concerns
by
Marilyn Domas White, Associate Professor
College of Library and Information Services,
U. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
and
Peiling Wang, Assistant Professor
School of Information Sciences,
U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-4330
        This paper reports on a qualitative study of the citing motivations of agricultural economists (faculty and doctoral students). It identifies several factors they considered in making citing decisions: the contributions of the document to their research, the criteria they apply to the documents, and metalevel documentation concerns. The paper reports citing behavior derived from a larger empirical, longitudinal study tracing document use during research projects and thus includes behavior related to decisions both to cite and not to cite. An important finding is the existence of metalevel concerns which influence a decision to cite a document in additional to situational factors related to its actual use during research. Data were gathered through interviews focusing on behavior related to specific documents known to have been used during the project; the factors were derived from content analysis of the transcribed interviews.