Publication Growth in Biological Sub-Fields: Patterns, Predictability and Sustainability
AbstractBiologists are producing ever-increasing quantities of papers. The question arises of whether current rates of increase in scientific outputs are sustainable in the long term. I studied this issue using publication data from the Web of Science (1991–2010) for 18 biological sub-fields. In the majority of cases, an exponential regression explains more variation than a linear one in the number of papers published each year as a function of publication year. Exponential growth in publication numbers is clearly not sustainable. About 75% of the variation in publication growth among biological sub-fields over the two studied decades can be predicted by publication data from the first six years. Currently trendy fields such as structural biology, neuroscience and biomaterials cannot be expected to carry on growing at the current pace, because in a few decades they would produce more papers than the whole of biology combined. Synthetic and systems biology are problematic from the point of view of knowledge dissemination, because in these fields more than 80% of existing papers have been published over the last five years. The evidence presented here casts a shadow on how sustainable the recent increase in scientific publications can be in the long term.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.
Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 12 (November)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/
biological sciences; file-drawer problem; information overload; meta-knowledge; peak in scientific output; peer review; publication explosion; publish or perish; scientometrics; sustainable development;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
- Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
- Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
- Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
- Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
- Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
- O13 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Susan Washburn Taylor & Blakely Fox Fender & Kimberly Gladden Burke, 2006. "Unraveling the Academic Productivity of Economists: The Opportunity Costs of Teaching and Service," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 846â859, April.
- Ehrlich, Paul R. & Wolff, Gary & Daily, Gretchen C. & Hughes, Jennifer B. & Daily, Scott & Dalton, Michael & Goulder, Lawrence, 1999. "Knowledge and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 267-284, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.