Introduction to the special issue: Genres of digital documents

Barbara H. Kwaśnik, Kevin Crowston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Purpose To introduce the special issue on “Genres of digital documents.” While there are many definitions of genre, most include consideration of the intended communicative purpose, form and sometimes expected content of a document. Most also include the notion of social acceptance, that a document is of a particular genre to the extent that it is recognized as such within a given discourse community. Design/methodology/approach The article reviews the notion of document genre and its applicability to studies of digital documents and introduces the four articles in the special issue. Findings Genre can be studied based on intrinsic genre attributes or on the extrinsic function that genre fulfills in human activities. Studies on intrinsic attributes include classifications of genres as clusters of attributes, though these classifications can be problematic because documents can be used in flexible ways. Also, new information technologies have enabled the appearance of novel genres. Studies on extrinsic function include ways to use genre for education or information accesses, as well as the use of genre as a lens for understanding communications in organizations. The four articles in the special issue illustrate these approaches. Originality/value The paper provides a framework that organizes the range of research about genres of digital documents that should be helpful to those reading this research or planning their own studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalInformation Technology & People
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005


  • Classification
  • Digital libraries
  • Digital storage
  • Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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