Information Use in African American Studies Doctoral Dissertations at Pennsylvania State University, 2000-2007
Nyana, Sylvia A., The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)
This study analyzes African American Studies dissertation bibliographies at Pennsylvania State University (2000-2007) to determine the types and date range of materials used in their research. A statistical analysis is conducted of document types, subjects covered in the dissertations, citation patterns, age of materials, and local availability and/or access to materials cited are examined. The study is important because it the first in-depth analysis of African American Studies research use, an area not previously analyze but critical for the purpose of quality collection development and reference services at Pennsylvania State University. The results obtained from the 14,058 citations indicate interdisciplinary nature of African American Studies. Of the 83 dissertations, social sciences lead with (54), followed by humanities (13), and sciences (16). Of the 14058 citations, 12,810 (91%) are owned by Pennsylvania State University Libraries, with journals at 6477 (46.1%), 5594 (39.8%) monographs, and "other" category 1984 (14.1%) of the total citations. In addition to books and journals, the results showed doctoral students using variety of sources and much older materials.
African American Studies or Black Studies emerged in the 60s in response to Black college students requesting curriculum changes to incorporate Black history and experience in the United States. Alkalimat (2007) notes that there is 311 degree granting institutions in the discipline of Black Studies in the U.S. The discipline continues to evolve with varying terms used to describe the discipline, including Black Studies, African American Studies, African and African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, Africana Studies, Pan African Studies, etc (Anderson 1993). According to Anderson, the varying titles mostly exist because of the geographical scope of each program or curriculum. For the purpose of this study, African American Studies will be used throughout this paper, synonymous with Black Studies, African and African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, Africana Studies, Africology, and Pan African Studies.
African American Studies examines, from numerous perspectives, the experience of people of African descent living in the United States, and encompasses history, politics, culture, literature, religion, sociology, and many other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. Anderson (1993) noted "the field of study does not begin with the enslavement in America, but with their heritage and ancestral roots in Africa, and their relationship with white America as well as with other racial-ethnic groups." (4). Walter (2002) summed-up Black Studies below:
Despite all these problematics, I sense that African American Studies is about to experience a profound renaissance. The content of African American Studies explains and responds to much in our history and our present-day struggles to realize our democratic aspirations. While examining the cultural, social, economic, and political realities of the African American people, it simultaneously analyzes the black/white paradigm, the paradigm in which in the United States the racialization of other groups, domestic and international, is based. Thus, it provides a necessary touchstone in scholarship and pedagogy for similar study of all ethnic groups - most of whom have been racialized in opposition to whiteness at some point." (103)
The department of African and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University integrates courses and research from the social sciences and humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with other academic areas throughout the university. Most students who graduate from the program move on to pursue graduate studies in the various disciplines with a focus on African American Studies. There are growing research needs in African American Studies; and knowing what doctoral students …
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Publication information: Article title: Information Use in African American Studies Doctoral Dissertations at Pennsylvania State University, 2000-2007. Contributors: Nyana, Sylvia A. - Author. Journal title: The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online). Volume: 3. Issue: 10 Publication date: September 2010. Page number: 31+. © Itabari Zulu Dec 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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