The maturation of tourism research: Evidence from a content analysis

Honggen Xiao, Stephen L.J. Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the extent of citations from within versus outside the field of tourism research. A systematic and stratified sample of 1254 reference entries from Annals of Tourism Research (Volumes 1 through 30) was used for a content analysis. Data were grouped into six 5-year periods and a focused coding of the sample was further conducted, through Nudist Nvivo, into three broad categories (tourism, tourism-related, and nontourism citations) by five analytic units (authorship, titles, publications, journals, and fields/disciplines), in order to identify the frequency and trend of citing internal versus external sources for tourism research. The research found that, while citations from tourism-related sources such as recreation, leisure, and hospitality have been decreasing over the years to a consistently low frequency of about 7% across the analytic units, the split of citations between tourism and nontourism is 54% against 39% in terms of authorship, 56% against 37% in terms of titles, 41% against 51% in terms of publications, 44% against 49% in terms of field journals, and 28% against 65% in terms of source fields/disciplines. Due to limitations in the use of a single journal for this analysis, the citation patterns identified from the selected medium could potentially cast light on the maturation of tourism as a scholarly field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-348
Number of pages14
JournalTourism Analysis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Annals of tourism research
  • Content analysis
  • Reference citation
  • Tourism research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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