Publication Growth in Biological Sub-Fields: Patterns, Predictability and Sustainability
Biologists 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.
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- 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, vol. 30(2), pages 267-284, August.
- 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, vol. 72(4), pages 846-859, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:12:p:3234-3247:d:21726. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.