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M.A. Wimmer et al. (Eds.): EGOV 2009, LNCS 5693, pp. 1–12, 2009.
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core
Hans J. (Jochen) Scholl
University of Washington, Box 352840, Seattle, WA 98195-2840, USA
Abstract. Electronic Government Research (EGR) has progressed beyond its
stages of infancy and has unfolded into a respected domain of multi- and cross-
disciplinary study. A sizable and dedicated community of researchers has
formed. So far, however, few, if any, accounts exist which sufficiently analyze
the profile of the electronic government research community. The contribution
of this paper is to describe this profile and give a detailed account of the core
researcher community, name the most prolific researchers, determine their dis-
ciplinary backgrounds, and identify their preferred standards of inquiry. The
study also identifies and quantifies the preferred publishing outlets in EGR, dis-
tinguishing between core journals and core conferences, on the one hand, and
non-core sites, on the other hand. This study advances the understanding of the
emerging structure and profile of the academic domain of EGR and helps re-
searchers identify adequate publishing outlets for their domain-related research.
Keywords: Electronic Government Research, EGR, core EGR community, core
EGR journals, core EGR conferences, prolific EGR scholars, disciplinary break-
down, multi-disciplinary EGR, EGOV EndNote Reference Library, EGRL.
1 Introduction and Research Questions
Previous Analyses of the Electronic Government (EG) Study Domain: EG owes the
first sign of self-recognition as a separate domain of research to Grönlund who in
2003 attempted to formulate a foundational EG theory . In several follow-up stud-
ies the author suggested that the study of EG and EG Information Systems (EGIS)
should encompass the political, the administrative, and the societal spheres of gov-
ernment . EG, he asserted, was an immature field lacking academic rigor in many,
if not most, contributions [6-9].
Two reviews of the early EG literature [1, 10] produced contrasting and contradict-
ing results, one supporting Grönlund’s claims, the other dismissing them. While these
authors mainly viewed EG from their own mono-disciplinary perspectives, other EG
scholars pointed at the transdisciplinary nature of the phenomena under study in EG,
which precluded any single discipline to declare sole ownership of the domain and of
the phenomena of study [4, 11, 12]. While these analyses and discussions revolved
around the foundations and the acceptable standards of inquiry in EG research (EGR),
the forming of the EGR community itself and the roles and orientations of their lead-
ing members had not been included in those studies. Up to this time it has not even
been known how many researchers the EG community formed and what their back-
2 H.J. Scholl
The Body of Knowledge in Electronic Government: Elsewhere , it has been ar-
gued that EG as a domain of study has progressed beyond its stage of infancy and that
EGR has produced a steady stream of no less than three hundred, English-language,
peer-reviewed articles per annum ever since 2004. For a young domain of study, this
is a remarkably high output volume. It was further found that roughly half of the an-
nual research volume is published in so-called EG core journals (ibid).
An additional third of this annual output is published in the proceedings of one of
three annual EG core conferences, that is, the Electronic Government Track at
the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), the dg.o confer-
ence organized by the Digital Government Society of North America (DGSNA), and
the Europe-based DEXA/EGOV conference, each of which has been conducted for
about a decade and has produced a sizable contribution to the academic knowledge in
EGR (ibid). Over five sixths of EGR, hence, is published in EGR core journals or
proceedings of EGR core conferences.
After the record year of 2005 with almost 500 peer-reviewed publications, EGR
went through a short phase of declining publication numbers, until 2008, when an
increase of some 17 percent to 368 EG publications was recorded. The topical break-
down showed that half of EG publications were dedicated to (1) organization, man-
agement, and transformation. With around ten percent each, four topics followed: (2)
digital democracy, (3) e-services, (4) design studies and tools, and (5) policy, gov-
ernance, and law. The topic of (6) infrastructure, integration, and interoperability
ranks in sixth place with a little under seven percent followed by the two small topical
areas of (7) information security and (8) foundations and standard of inquiry (ibid).
The analysis also uncovered that 85 percent of all EG publications were non-
technical in nature. Most publications were empirically based. Over 3,500 authors
were recorded; however, more than three quarters of those authors had published only
a single article or paper. In other words, around 800 individuals had published more
than one article or paper on EG, suggesting that the core community of EG research-
ers, that is, individuals with at least one EG-related publication per annum over the
past four years, would be even smaller.
Contribution and Research Questions: It is the aim and contribution of this paper to
produce insights in and advance the understanding of the composition of the EGR
community. In particular, the following research questions will be addressed:
(R1) Which individuals form the inner core of this community of EG researchers,
and how many are there?
(R2) Which disciplines do the core EG researchers represent/were they trained in?
(R3) Which general methods (quantitative/qualitative) do they prefer in their re-
(R4) Which outlets for publications do the core EG researchers prefer?
The results of these analyses point to where the EG study domain might be headed,
and what the prospects for interdisciplinary projects in EG might be.
Paper Organization: This paper is organized as follows: First, the data source and
method are presented; then, the results are presented; third, the findings are discussed;
and finally, conclusions are drawn and future research is outlined.
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core 3
2 Data and Method
The data source for this analysis is the publicly available EG reference library
(EGRL) 2008 version 4.4. (EGRL08), which contained a total of 2,632 reference
entries. These entries had to meet the following criteria for inclusion:
At a minimum a paper or an article had to
a) Have passed an academic peer review process,
b) Be published in the proceedings of an academic conference or in an academic
c) Be published in English (or, if published in another language, an English-
language translation had to be publicly available),
d) Be of at least seven pages (or equivalently, 3,700 words) in length (including
references) for a non-technical article, or
e) Be of at least four pages (2,250 words) in length (including references) for a
While these criteria allow for inclusion in the reference library of research notes and
research-in-progress papers as well as full-length technical papers, in computer sci-
ence, for example, they explicitly exclude non-academic accounts, posters, birds-of-a-
feather reports, workshop summaries, symposium summaries, conference and event
introductions, extended abstracts, commentaries, editorial notes, book reviews, and
other rudimentary or light pieces of work.
As an exception, some twenty non-peer-reviewed papers with a high citation count
in the academic literature, such as Balutis’ introduction to EG in Public Manager
[2, 3] were purposefully included to maintain the reference library’s comprehensive-
ness and ease of use.
The EGRL08 was populated with reference records found through keyword and
full-text searches, both by hand and electronically, in journals and academic confer-
ence proceedings, when they met the above-specified criteria. The core journal outlets
in EGR, pubic administration research (PAR), political science research (PSR), in-
formation systems research (ISR), and other domains and disciplines were included in
the searches as well as the proceedings of HICSS, DEXA/EGOV, and dg.o. Also
included in the searches were the proceedings of the ICIS and AMCIS conferences as
well as some regional or special-topic conferences in EG. Since EG has attracted the
attention of numerous disciplines and their publishing outlets, iterative keyword
searches have been conducted across the archives of JSTOR, Project MUSE, Science
Direct, EBSCO, the ACM Digital Library, IEEE Xplore, and Springerlink among
quite a few others.
Keywords used in the searches included “e-Government,” “digital government,”
“e-Governance,” “PMIS” (that is, Public Management Information Systems), “IT” or
“ICT (that is, information technology or information and communication technology)
in Public Administration or public sector,” “e-democracy,” “digital democracy,” “e-
participation,” “e-inclusion,” “digital divide,” “e-Services in government,” “e-voting,” “e-
campaigning,” “e-rulemaking,” and the acronyms “G2G, G2B, G2E, G2C, IEE” (which
stand for government-to-government, government-to-business, government-to-employee,
4 H.J. Scholl
government-to-citizen, and internal effectiveness and efficiency) and also spelling and
acronym variations of those.
From its first release in 2006, the number of entries in the EGRL had grown from
some 1,500 to a total of 2,632 by fall of 2008 (version 4.4). This latter version served
as the basis for the analysis presented below. Please note that EGRL08 does not con-
tain references published after September of 2008 but a well-informed estimate of the
number of publications for the final quarter of that calendar year was made .
The following scheme was used for coding the 2,632 entries in EGRL08:
(a) Type of publication outlet (core EG journal; core EG conference; other (non-
core EG) journal; other (non-core EG) conference, book section, edited book,
monograph, and other publication).
(b) Topical orientation of article (foundations and standards of inquiry; organiza-
tion, management, and transformation; infrastructure, integration, and interop-
erability; services; participation, inclusion, voting, and e-democracy; policy,
governance, law, and trust; design studies, information systems development
(ISD), algorithms, and tools; security; and other topical orientations).
(c) Type of article (technical publication, non-technical publication, hybrid, and
(d) Basis of article (empirical, conceptual, review, hybrid, and other basis).
Core Journals: The following criteria were used to determine which journals would
be considered core outlets for EG publications:
(1) A clearly stated and enacted focus on EG in the editorial objectives and scope,
(2) editorial board comprised of leading EG scholars, (3) strictly upheld high review
and acceptance standards to ensure that published articles are of higher-quality,
(4) consistently large output volume of EG research articles, (5) leading EG scholars
frequently and repeatedly publish their work in the outlet; (6) a global geographical
reach as indicated by institutional origin of submitting authors, (7) publisher’s sus-
tained commitment to EG, (8) publisher’s academic reputation, and (9) journal’s
academic reputation. Journals with a wider scope definition than EG, which had a
particularly strong publication record regarding EG (criterion #4) and a good reputa-
tion as an academic journal (criterion #9) were also considered for inclusion.
Using these criteria, the initial list of core journals encompassed
(1) Inderscience’s Electronic Government, An International Journal (EGaIJ),
(2) ACI’s Electronic Journal of E-Government (EJEG),
(3) Elsevier’s Government Information Quarterly (GIQ),
(4) IOS Press’ Information Polity (IP),
(5) IGI’s International Journal of Electronic Government Research (IJEGR),
(6) Taylor & Francis’ Journal of Information Technology and Politics (formerly
Journal of E-Government/ (JITP/JEG), and
(7) Emerald’s Transforming Government: Process, People, and Policy (TGPPP).
The short academic track records of the majority of these journals prevented them
from scoring high in terms of academic reputation (criterion #9); so, no ranking of
these journals has been attempted.
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core 5
Core Conferences: For identifying core conferences in EG, similar criteria as for core
journals were used:
(1) A clearly stated and enacted focus on EG in the call for papers, (2) a relatively
long track record of regular annual recurrences of the conference, (3) a consistently
large output volume of completed EG research papers, (4) strong gravitational power;
that is, a global geographical reach as indicated by institutional origin of submitting
authors and participants, (5) strictly upheld high review and acceptance standards,
leading to high-quality papers, (6) proceedings available from a publisher of high
reputation, and (7) a major and recurring EG community event attached to the confer-
ence such as an annual meeting of a professional EG association, an EG symposium,
a doctoral consortium on EG, an EG workshop series, or an EG job placement center.
Three aforementioned conferences met the specified criteria:
(1) The EG track at HICSS,
(2) DEXA EGOV, and
(3) DGSNA’s dg.o conference.
As also mentioned above, for almost a decade, these three conferences have con-
sistently attracted a large number of high-quality submissions from a wide subsection
of active EG scholars. Review and acceptance standards for submissions to these
three conferences have been aligned to maintain high-quality papers, and the proceed-
ings of these three conferences (published by IEEE, ACM, and Springer respectively)
are restricted to include only completed research papers.
Core EG Researchers: In the period from its early beginnings in the late 1990s until
this research was conducted in 2008, the study domain’s academic output had peaked
in 2005 . However, most publications were recorded in the second half of that
decade. Therefore, it was reasoned that researchers with less than four publications in
EG within five years had to be considered non-core, while authors with four to seven
publications within half a decade would count as extended EGR community. Re-
searchers with eight or more publications or one or more publication per year, hence,
would reasonably qualify as members of the core EGR community.
For every author found in the EGRL08 the number of publications was counted,
and the results were sorted from highest to lowest. For the members of the above-
defined core EGR community with eight publications or more, a web-based research
was conducted to identify these researchers’ disciplinary backgrounds and academic
trainings. For the core EGR group the topical orientation was analyzed based on pub-
lications as well as regarding the general methods (quantitative/qualitative) that the
researchers of the core group had employed in their research. Further, publication
outlets were analyzed which the core EG researchers had preferred.
3.1 Research Question (R1): Which Individuals Form the Inner Core of This
Community of EG Researchers, and How Many Are There?
When addressing the research question it is helpful to understand the overall composi-
tion of the EG research community: How many individuals actually form the core
6 H.J. Scholl
community and the extended core community, and how many individuals are occa-
sional contributors to the body of knowledge in EG? The analysis of the EGRL08
provided a clear answer to this question: The core community (including the extended
core community) comprises 225 scholars from around the world.
The vast majority of contributors (93.6 percent) must be categorized as non-core,
when the criteria for peer-reviewed publications are applied (more than three publica-
tions in five years). Even if the standards were lowered to only more than two publi-
cations in five years for making it to the core, the effect would be minimal (241 as
opposed to 225 core members) and still 93.1 percent of authors would qualify only as
occasional or non-core contributors. In other words, the extended worldwide EG core
community is rather small. Figure 1 shows a breakdown of the EG community in
terms of numbers of publications and core-to-non-core ratios.
Fig. 1. EG Community As Defined By Number of Publications (2008)
As shown in Figure 2, fifty-five scholars were identified who had published eight
or more peer-reviewed articles on EG. Together these scholars published a total of
749 articles. Since this sum contains double counts due to co-authorships, the total
volume of publications recorded in EGRL08 which core EG researchers had authored
represents less than 28.5 percent of the whole body of academic knowledge in EG.
3.2 Research Question (R2): Which Disciplines Do the Core EG Researchers
Represent / Which Disciplines Were They Trained in?
Twelve core EG researchers (or 21 percent) had an academic training background in
three or more disciplines, while 23 (or 41 percent of the) researchers had a pure
mono-disciplinary training and research background. Another 21 (or 37 percent of)
EG scholars were trained in at least two separate disciplines. Scholars with pure
mono-disciplinary backgrounds mainly came from two disciplines: Computer Science
with nine (or 16 percent) of all core EG scholars, and Public Administration with
seven (or 12.5 percent) of all core EG scholars. In Figure 3 the various disciplines
participating in EGR are enumerated.
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core 7
Fig. 2. The 55 Most Prolific EG Researchers by # of Publications (2008)
Fig. 3. Disciplines of the 55 Most Prolific EG Researchers (2008)
8 H.J. Scholl
In summary, the five most frequent disciplinary backgrounds in EGR are Public
Administration, Political Science, Management of Information Systems, Business
Administration, and Computer Science.
3.3 Research Question (R3): Which General Methods
(Quantitative/Qualitative) Do Core EG Researchers Prefer in Their
When analyzing this aspect of EGR, it became clear that EG scholars draw from a
wide range of methods with Action Research and grounded-theory based qualitative
studies at one end of the continuum and purely quantitative methods including algo-
rithmic studies and simulations at the other end of the continuum. This study merely
distinguished between “qualitative” and “quantitative” studies in order to gain an
Fig. 4. Methods Used by Most Prolific EG Researchers
Both qualitative as well as quantitative methods include a whole range of meth-
odological approaches supporting fairly diverse epistemological stances and onto-
logical claims, whose stated purpose of study was not within the scope of this
research (see Figure 4). Interestingly, seven of the top-ten most prolific EG scholars
used both quantitative and qualitative methods in their research, while two used
mainly qualitative, and one used predominantly quantitative methods in their stud-
ies. EGR provides a home to multiple methodological approaches, which exceed the
methodological range of a number of disciplines engaged in EGR. Hence, when
EGR-related research is submitted to more narrowly structured mono-disciplinary
outlets, including some non-core EGR outlets, difficulties in the paper acceptance
process might occur.
3.4 Research Question (R4): Which Outlets for Publications Do the Core EG
Unsurprisingly, EG-oriented conferences appeared earlier (1999/2000) than journals
dedicated to the domain of study (2003-2007). As discussed before, some journals
(GIQ, IP) and conferences (HICSS, AMCIS) extended their scope, while other jour-
nals and conferences remained mildly interested.
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core 9
Fig. 5. Number of Publications from Core EG Researchers per Core Journal (left); Number of
Core EG Researchers Publishing in Core Journals (right)
The core journals attracted numerous publications from the most prolific EG re-
searchers, with GIQ and EGAIJ combining the lion’s share of publications (see Figure
5, left table). Among the core EG research community, GIQ and IJEGR had the best
reach into the core community (see Figure 5 – right table). For example, 22 (or 40
percent) of the 55 most prolific EG researchers had published in GIQ at least once.
Of course, the core group also published elsewhere. The following outlets were
most frequently used: Communications of the ACM (CACM); Computer; Decision
Support Systems (DSS); Information Systems Journal (ISJ); Information Technology &
Management (IT&M); International Journal of Electronic Governance (IJEG); Inter-
national Journal of Public Administration (IJPA); Journal of the American Society of
Information Science & Technology (JASIST); Journal of Enterprise Information
Management (JEIM); Journal of Government Information (JGI); Journal of Public
Administration Research and Theory (JPART); Public Administration Review (PAR);
Public Performance & Management Review (PPMR); Social Science Computer Re-
view (SSCR) among other journals.
In terms of number of publications from the core group, SSCR and CACM lead the
field (see Figure 6 – left table); with regard to number of authors preferring non-core
outlets, again, CACM and SSCR lead the field (see Figure 6 – right table). About 46
percent (25 of 55) of the EG core group also used other publishing outlets for a total
of 38 articles (see Figure 6).
With regard to conferences, the core group favored the three core conferences
(DEXA/EGOV, dg.o, and HICSS) clearly over other conferences for presenting their
research. As shown in Figure 7 (upper left table), the EG core community had most
articles published at DEXA/EGOV and HICSS. These two conferences also had the
farthest reach into the core community with 67 percent (HICSS) and 60 percent
(DEXA/EGOV) (see Figure 7, upper right table). While non-core conferences at-
tracted up to 20 members from the core group, no single non-core conference was
able to even remotely match the core conferences in number of publications (see
Figure 7, lower left table). Interestingly, Americas Conference on Information Sys-
tems (AMCIS) had a reach almost as far as the dg.o conference and attracted 27 per-
cent of core EG researchers (dg.o: 31 percent).
10 H.J. Scholl
Fig. 6. Number of Publications from Core EG Researchers per Non-core Journal (left); Number
of Core EG Researchers Publishing in Non-core Journals (right)
Fig. 7. Number of Publications from Core EG Researchers per Core Conference (upper left);
Number of Core EG Researchers Publishing in Core Conferences (upper right); Number of
Publications from Core EG Researchers per Non-core Conference (lower left); Number of Core
EG Researchers Publishing in Non-core Conferences (lower right)
4 Discussion and Conclusion
At first glance, it might be disillusioning to find that the core EG community is
relatively small (55 individuals), and even the extended core community comprises
only a total of 225 scholars, while the vast majority of contributors (that is, 3,281
scholars) engages only occasionally in EGR. However, as the rapidly expanding
Profiling the EG Research Community and Its Core 11
body of academic knowledge in EG demonstrates, this community has been highly
productive. More research would be necessary to better understand the level of pro-
ductivity and the relative size of this community when compared with other discipli-
nary and multi-disciplinary domains.
Most researchers listed in the core group (Figure 2) have their primary institutional
affiliations either in Europe (27 EG researchers) or in North America (26 EG re-
searchers). Only one scholar of the core group is based in Africa and another one in
Latin America (excluding Mexico). No core EG researcher was found in Asia or in
Oceania. This seems to indicate that EGR is predominantly conducted at institutions
in Europe and North America.
What had already been suggested on the basis of casual observations has been con-
firmed by this research: Almost 60 percent of EG researchers have obtained multiple
disciplinary trainings in their academic careers. Those trained in just one discipline
have frequently engaged in collaboration with researchers from different training
backgrounds. This suggests that, in principle, openness exists with regard to methods
and standards of inquiry, which helps enable cross-disciplinary collaboration. While
six disciplines (Public Administration, Political Science, MIS, Business Administra-
tion, Computer Science, and Information Science) were most frequent among core EG
scholars, it is noteworthy that another seventeen disciplines are represented in that
core group of EG scholars.
The wealth of diverse academic backgrounds also translates into a diversity and
richness of methodological instruments and tools of inquiry among EG scholars. Al-
most every other researcher in the core group routinely uses mixed (that is, both quan-
titative and qualitative) methods, while 45 percent of the core scholars rely solely on
quantitative methods. These results suggest that research conducted by the core group
has more quantitative than qualitative orientations; yet, the qualitative elements in EG
are strong, since more than 50 percent of core EG researchers regularly employ quali-
tative methods in their studies.
Whether or not the EG community will be able to support seven core journals over
the long haul remains to be seen. However, in the core researcher group, GIQ, EGAIJ,
and IFEGR have the strongest standing in terms of both number of articles and num-
ber of authors. In terms of non-core journals, SSCR, CACM, JEIM, ISJ, and IJPA are
most prominent among core EG scholars. It is remarkable that the flagship journals in
US Public Administration (PAR, Administration & Society, American Review of Pub-
lic Administration, JPART) or Public Policy (Journal of Policy Analysis and Man-
agement and Policy Science) do not play any significant role in EGR.
The three EG core conferences attract the overwhelming number of papers and au-
thors. So far, AMCIS is the only non-core conference with noticeable attractiveness to
core scholars. It remains to be seen how other conferences such as ICEGOV or
ECIS/PACIS can gain ground among the core scholars. Traditional public administra-
tion conferences such as APPAM or ASPA do not play any recognizable role in EGR.
Summary. The contribution of this study has been to shed light on the composition of
the core EGR community and to provide a sharp profile of its core researcher group
detailing disciplinary backgrounds and publishing preferences. As a result, major
disciplinary backgrounds have been determined, preferred methods could be quanti-
fied, and preferred publishing outlets and conferences could be identified.
So far, only the number of publications per author has been counted without any
attempt to rank order or weigh the publications or the authors’ contributions. While
the sheer publication count can serve as a good initial indicator of authors’ interest in
12 H.J. Scholl
and commitment to EGR, it certainly does not sufficiently describe any particular
author’s relative standing and influence in the EGR community. For such a purpose,
a dedicated citation analysis needs to be undertaken, which will be one of the logical
follow-on studies to this research.
Future research also needs to explore in more detail the topical orientations of the
extended EGR community. It will also be worthwhile to observe whether or not the
EG researcher community will expand or contract over the next decade depending on
the research project funding situation in the various regions.
Acknowledgement. I am indebted to my graduate assistants Jean Lee and Christine
Lee who worked with me at the Information School of the University of Washington,
and who have tirelessly helped me prepare and maintain the EGRL.
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