Evaluating comparative research: Mapping and assessing current trends in built heritage studies

Nir Mualam, Nir Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The question leading this research is: what are the attributes and scales of comparative research that applies to built heritage studies? The paper begins by recognizing the interrelatedness of built heritage protection and sustainable urban development. While comparative research into built heritage studies analyses and documents existing practices, policies and impacts, its generalizable capacities are often lacking and therefore less applicable to policy-makers. In an attempt to further the potential contribution of such studies, the paper maps comparative built heritage research based on a critical review of over 100 articles and books. The analysis of these sources relies on an evaluative categorization of comparative built heritage studies. This categorization consists of four criteria: the number of compared cases, their geographic location, the scope of comparison and its degree of structuredness. The findings suggest that heritage studies compare a relatively small number of cases; they are quite structured; focus on local as well as national-level analysis; and lean towards Western-centered comparisons. The paper concludes by suggesting that built heritage studies can contribute to sustainable urban development policies by taking on comparative research that has a large enough N, expanding non-Eurocentric and Anglo-American research, comparing local jurisdictions in more than one country and by utilizing highly structured categories for comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Article number677
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Built heritage
  • Comparative studies
  • Conservation
  • Cross-national research
  • Historic preservation
  • Sustainable urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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