Blog post metadata Estimated Growth Rate of Linguistic Literature | Hugh's Curriculum Vitae

Estimated Growth Rate of Linguistic Literature

In an effort to establish the sufficiency of the indexing of academic papers in language description and linguistics I have started looking around to see what sort of estimates there are in terms of how many journals there are, how many linguists there are, and what the growth rate of the literature might be. As far as I know, no one has attempted a rate-of-growth calculation for linguistic literature across the discipline. There are some bibliometrics and scientometric studies focused on linguistics which look a specific journals, certain time depths across several journals (Citation: et al., ) & (). Some Aspects of Scholarly Communication in Linguistics: An Empirical Study. Language, 66(3). 553–557. https://doi.org/10.2307/414612 and (Citation: , ) (). Data Citation and Attribution in Linguistics - Survey of Reproducibility in Linguistics Journals, 2003-2012. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/hawaii.edu/data-citation/survey , certain sub-fields in linguistics (Citation: , ) (). Monitoring Academic Studies of Turkish Lexicography: A Bibliometric Study of 84 Years. Lexikos, 29(1). 288–315. https://doi.org/10.5788/29-1-1522 , (Citation: et al., ) , & (). Discovering Factions in the Computational Linguistics Community. Association for Computational Linguistics. Retrieved from https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W12-3203 , and (Citation: et al., ) , , & (). A bibliometric and network analysis of the field of computational linguistics. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(3). 683–706. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23394 or even coverage by certain indexers (Citation: , ) (). A bibliometric analysis of linguistics in web of science. Journal of Scientometric Research, 4(1). 20–28. https://doi.org/10.4103/2320-0057.156018 , (Citation: et al., ) , , & (). Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus: A systematic comparison of citations in 252 subject categories. Journal of Informetrics, 12(4). 1160–1177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2018.09.002 , (Citation: et al., ) , & (). A Bibliometric Analysis of Linguistics Publications in the Web of Science. Journal of Scientometric Research, 6(2). 109–118. https://doi.org/10.5530/jscires.6.2.16 .

If I use the same categories as the MIAR project there are nearly 1700 linguistic journals among the approximately 40,000 journals and serials tracked (Citation: et al., ) , & (). MIAR: hacia un entorno colaborativo de editores, autores y evaluadores de revistas. El Profesional de la Informacion, 20(5). 589–596. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2011.sep.15 . These journals may be currently active or may have ceased their publishing, or changed the name of the journal (increasing the number of serials counted).

Defining the discipline is hard. For example, should one include the fields of Language Documentation, Anthropology, or Philology? Therefore the exact scope seems fuzzy but if we go with the 1700 number presented by the MIAR project it gives us a start. I have read several studies which focus on 10-year segment of a journal’s history (not linguistics) and they generally report that in a 10-year time span about 450 articles are produced. One approach would be to multiply 450 by 1700 and estimate the number of articles from there (765,000 articles). But this leaves us without knowing how many active journals there are.

I have noticed that career linguists in the academy publish about three articles a year (more-or-less). Christopher Phipps, on his blog (Citation: , ) (). How Many Linguists Are There? 5379. [Blog]The Lousy Linguist. Retrieved from https://thelousylinguist.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-many-linguists-are-there-5379.html postulates that in 2010 there were about 5379 linguists. More-or-less this might give us a growth rate of about 16,000 articles per year. I recall reading somewhere that a major commercial linguistic bibliography added between 9,000 and 11,000 articles between its annual versions. Since we don’t anticipate complete coverage of by the team behind the bibliography it seems that the 16,000 number is closer to reasonable.

If we assume that the 16,000 number has been constant and covers the 765,000 total articles this gives us between 47 and 48 years of publishing history. Obviously the 765,000 number would be smaller than the total number of relevant language research publications (say since the 1500’s). But presumably the rate of publication growth is accelerating with innovations in publishing technology, the growth of the global population, and the growth of the academic and industrial application of language knowledge.

Still another way of estimating how many articles are produced a year are to look at the rate of DOI usage or the growth of specific databases of articles. Not all journals or publishers use DOIs, and databases are also limited to those journals they index so it is not a fool-proof method but it would give us an approximate rate and a comparable rate with other disciplines. This method was attempted by (Citation: et al., ) & (). The rate of growth in scientific publication and the decline in coverage provided by Science Citation Index. Scientometrics, 84(3). 575–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-010-0202-z , albeit the scope was not limited to linguistics.

Bibliography

Arik (2015)
(). A bibliometric analysis of linguistics in web of science. Journal of Scientometric Research, 4(1). 20–28. https://doi.org/10.4103/2320-0057.156018
Berez-Kroeker (2017)
(). Data Citation and Attribution in Linguistics - Survey of Reproducibility in Linguistics Journals, 2003-2012. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/hawaii.edu/data-citation/survey
Bozkurt (2019)
(). Monitoring Academic Studies of Turkish Lexicography: A Bibliometric Study of 84 Years. Lexikos, 29(1). 288–315. https://doi.org/10.5788/29-1-1522
Larsen & Ins (2010)
& (). The rate of growth in scientific publication and the decline in coverage provided by Science Citation Index. Scientometrics, 84(3). 575–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-010-0202-z
Martín-Martín, Orduna-Malea, Thelwall & Delgado López-Cózar (2018)
, , & (). Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus: A systematic comparison of citations in 252 subject categories. Journal of Informetrics, 12(4). 1160–1177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2018.09.002
Mohsen, Fu & Ho (2017)
, & (). A Bibliometric Analysis of Linguistics Publications in the Web of Science. Journal of Scientometric Research, 6(2). 109–118. https://doi.org/10.5530/jscires.6.2.16
Phipps (2010)
(). How Many Linguists Are There? 5379. [Blog]The Lousy Linguist. Retrieved from https://thelousylinguist.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-many-linguists-are-there-5379.html
Radev, Joseph, Gibson & Muthukrishnan (2016)
, , & (). A bibliometric and network analysis of the field of computational linguistics. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(3). 683–706. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23394
Rodríguez-Gairín, Somoza-Fernández & Urbano (2011)
, & (). MIAR: hacia un entorno colaborativo de editores, autores y evaluadores de revistas. El Profesional de la Informacion, 20(5). 589–596. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2011.sep.15
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, & (). Discovering Factions in the Computational Linguistics Community. Association for Computational Linguistics. Retrieved from https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W12-3203
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& (). Some Aspects of Scholarly Communication in Linguistics: An Empirical Study. Language, 66(3). 553–557. https://doi.org/10.2307/414612
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Hugh Paterson III
Hugh Paterson III
Director of Market Research

My research interests include typological patterns in articulatory phonetics; User Experience design in language tools; and graph theory applied to language and linguistics.

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