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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Changing U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988-2003



The descriptive information in this report leaves many questions about changing publication practices unanswered. Some are descriptive. For example, what were the trends in manuscript submission during the period studied, and how do they relate to publication trends? Although journal editors have told SRS that submissions from other countries have increased more rapidly than those from the United States, the systematic quantitative data needed to make international comparisons are not available.

Other questions relate to the causes for the observed trends and thus go beyond the purpose and scope of this report. Readers seeking insight into the causes of the trends reported here should consult the following two SRS reports:

  • The Changing Research and Publication Environment in American Research Universities. This report, a working paper (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srs07204) being released concomitantly with the present report, summarizes the views of experienced observers and practitioners in research universities about how the worlds of academic S&E research and publication changed during the 15-year period between 1988 and 2003. The qualitative data in this exploratory report cannot answer these causal questions. But, in discussing some of the changes that occurred in how research is performed and disseminated, how universities function, and how researchers in universities divide their time among their various activities, this exploratory report may suggest some causal hypotheses that warrant further examination.

  • U.S. Academic Scientific Publishing. Scheduled for release as an SRS working paper, this report will also have implications for causal analysis of the changing trends in S&E article output. By examining quantifiable relationships among publications, resource inputs, and institutional characteristics, this report will address how various institutional characteristics (e.g., quality, R&D funding, institutional control, availability of S&E graduate students and doctorate holders, and patenting activity) relate to article production, how changes over time in these institutional characteristics relate to changes in article production, and how the variables related to an institution's article production differ for various S&E fields.

Changing U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988-2003
Special Report | NSF 07-320 | July 2007