6.1 Archaeological research: a network of sources

The list of cited references from the archaeological research outputs extracted from WoS shows that more than 273,000 publications were cited on at least one occasion by archaeological researchers between 2004 and 2013. This number of cited publications reduces sharply when restricted to references cited more than once – approximately 10,000 were cited more than 10 times, but this rate of decrease in the number of cited publications flattens out markedly when looking at references cited more than 20 times, and there are approximately 800 publications that were cited more than 100 times (see Table 3).

Table 3: The number of sources and times cited in archaeological research outputs.
Number of Sources Times cited
273,824 1
10,292 11
5,091 21
3,256 31
2,338 41
1,833 50
1,790 51
1,442 61
1,188 71
1,018 81
912 91
797 101

For the purposes of producing the map presented here (Figure 2), a threshold for inclusion of publications in the map has been set at 50 citations. This still results in a map with 1833 items that includes both journals as well as monograph publications as nodes. These nodes have then been linked by 1850 edges that show the normalised citation links between these nodes. The specific citation threshold, clustering resolution and the number of edges represented was chosen because these values produce a map that reveals a detailed visual structure that is understandable without magnification. Importantly, a number of trials indicate that this structure is repeated when the threshold citation limit for inclusion is set at higher and lower numbers of citations and for a clustering resolution set at higher levels.

As might be expected, a set of well-known archaeological journals appear as the most prominent nodes in this map (Figure 1). These include the Journal of Archaeological Science (the most cited source in archaeological research), along with American Antiquity, Antiquity, Archaeometry, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Human Evolution, Journal of Social Archaeology, as well as World Archaeology. In addition to these specifically archaeological journals, there are a series of major anthropological journals (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Current Anthropology) as well as a series of broader science journals (Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta). The most prominent archaeological monograph is Bruce Trigger's A History of Archaeological Thought.

On the basis of co-citations, VOSviewer generates 19 clusters of sources (minimum cluster size: 10 sources; clustering resolution: 1.55) that form the intellectual base of archaeological research (Table 4). A small-scale map with the major clusters identified is presented in Figure 1, and a much enlarged map is presented in Figure 2. On the basis of the sources included in these clusters it is possible to identify a likely theme that unites the sources within each cluster. Of these 19 clustered groups of sources, five clusters relate to the archaeological record of particular geographical regions (such as North America, the Central and Eastern Mediterranean and Near East, Australasia and the Pacific, Africa, and China), one cluster appears to be clearly period-specific (human evolution/palaeoanthropology), another seems to be focused on both an area and a period (North America and Palaeoindian/pre-settled societies), and one final cluster seems defined by language (Spanish). Most interesting, perhaps, is that the ten clusters (Table 6 Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 17 and 19) are defined by publications related to aspects of archaeological science (such as chemical analysis, dating, geophysics, geoarchaeology, genetics, human osteology and forensics, quaternary science, environmental reconstruction) and their splits clearly relate to the specialisation of both their original source disciplines as well as the archaeological specialists that now undertake research in these areas. The final and largest cluster contains publications that relate to the theory and intellectual history of archaeology, including well-known monographs on archaeological theory (Symbolic and Structural Archaeology and Symbols in Action by Hodder; Archaeological Theory by Johnson; Reconstructing Archaeology and Social Theory and Archaeology by Shanks and Tilley; Time, Culture and Identity by Thomas) and classic theoretical texts from anthropology and sociology (e.g. Bourdieu's Outline of a Theory of Practice; Appadurai's The Social Life of Things; Connerton's How Societies Remember). It seems reasonable to suggest that this cluster identifies a core of publications specifically related to theory and interpretation in archaeology.

Table 4: Clusters of co-cited sources: their themes and major source titles.
Cluster no. 'Research core theme' Major publication source names included in this cluster No. of Sources
1 Theory and Interpretation (esp. European, Postprocessual) World Archaeology, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Journal of Social Archaeology, Archaeological Dialogues, Journal of Material Culture 257
2 North American Archaeology (incl. theory and method – Processual) American Antiquity, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Journal of Field Archaeology, Latin American Antiquity, Kiva, Southwest Journal of Anthropology 188
3 Archaeology in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean (including Ancient Egypt and Arabia) and Classical Archaeology American Journal of Archaeology, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Paleoorient, Annual of the British School at Athens, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Journal of Roman Archaeology, Biblical Archaeology 179
4 Archaeological Science (esp. chemistry and analytical methods) Archaeometry, Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta, Journal of Cultural Heritage, Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, Corrosion Science, X-Ray Spectrometry 165
5 Quaternary Science and Geomorphology Quaternary Science Reviews, Quaternary Research, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoenvironments, Sediment Geology, Journal of Coastal Research 135
6 Genetics and Applied Genetics Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Genetics, PLOS One, Human Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Genome Research 108
7 Ecology, Environments and Environmental Reconstruction Journal of Biogeography, Oecologia, Ecology, Soil Science, Journal of Mammals, Conservation Science 103
8 Archaeology (Spanish Language based – incl. Iberian Peninsula and South America) BAR International series, Quaternary International, Palaeobiology, Trabajos Prehistoria, Magallenia, Arqueologia, Annales I Patagonia, Zephyrus 99
9 Archaeology in North American (esp. Palaeoindian archaeology) Plains Anthropologist; Arctic Anthropology; Handbook of North American Indians; Lithic Technology; Canadian Journal of Archaeology; Arctic 98
10 Human Osteoarchaeology and Forensics American Journal of Physical Anthropology; American Journal of Human Biology; Journal of Parasitology; Journal of Forensic Science; Forensic Science International; International Journal of Legal Medicine; 89
11 Human Evolution (Palaeoanthropology) Nature; Journal of Human Evolution; Journal of Quaternary Science; l'Anthropologie; Bulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise; Paleo; Rethinking the Human Revolution 89
12 Environmental Archaeology Holocene; Boreas; Pollen et Spores; Germania; Environmental Archaeology 77
13 Geophysics, Remote Sensing and Archaeological Survey Archaeological Prospection; Geophysics; Journal of Applied Geophysics; International Journal of Remote Sensing; Near Surface Geophysics; Internet Archaeology 62
14 Archaeology in Australasia and the Pacific Antiquity; Australian Archaeology; Journal of Polynesian Society; Archaeology in Oceania; Rock Art Research; Bulletin of Indopacific Prehistory; Oceania 58
15 Archaeology in Africa South African Archaeological Bulletin; African Archaeological Review; South African Journal of Science; Azania; Nyame Akuma 54
16 The Evolution of Human Capacities, Primate Studies and Cognitive Science Current Anthropology; Behavioural and Brain Sciences; Evolution of Human Behaviour; Primates; Trends in Cognitive Science 32
17 Geoarchaeology Journal of Archaeological Science; Geoarchaeology; Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record; Soil Micromorphology; Inhabiting Catalhoyuk 15
18 Archaeology in China Chinese Science Bulletin; Science in China Series D 12
19 Archaeological Dating Radiocarbon; Quaternary Geochronology; Geochronometria; Ancient TL 10

The journals with the greatest number of citations will necessarily be the most idiosyncratically clustered; these journals contain articles relevant to research in many cluster themes, but the clustering process requires that they be allocated to specific clusters. VOSviewer therefore identifies the key theme of those articles in journals that account for their citation within archaeological research and clusters the journal accordingly; some of these clusters are obvious, others are more intriguing. Nature, for example, clusters with the research core for palaeoanthropology while Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA are clustered with research publications on genetics. Antiquity is clustered with publications related to Australasia and the Pacific, reflecting its publication strength in the archaeological research of these regions during its editorship by Christopher Chippindale (1986 to 1997). Archaeometry is aligned with the cluster of publications related to chemistry and materials analysis research. Finally, the Journal of Archaeological Science, with the largest number of citations by far, is clustered with publications on soils, sediments and geoarchaeology despite its non-normalised links throughout archaeology.

Finally, it was noted above that the bibliometric data extracted from WoS was not limited to English language sources, but rather to sources written in a Latin script. An examination of the primary languages in which journals and monographs are published by thematic cluster (Table 4) shows a high degree of variation between clusters. Besides the cluster that seems to represent a communication network on South American and Iberian archaeology in Spanish or Portuguese, the research outputs in a number of the other thematic clusters are frequently published in languages other than English, especially those relating to the archaeology of the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, or environmental archaeology (including the Mesolithic) with many sources in German or Polish, or palaeoanthropology with publications in French, Italian and German. Unsurprisingly, the thematic clusters related to archaeology of the Americas contain research sources that publish in Spanish. It is also worth noting that clusters related to various scientific themes (remote sensing, genetics, archaeological dating) publish primarily in English, and interestingly, the cluster related to theory and interpretation (especially European post-processual archaeology) is also an arena of publication in English.

Readers wishing to examine this map online can do so by following this link to the network map of sources (the online viewer works best with Internet Explorer).


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