Growth of academic research

This document provides some historical data on the growth of the academic research sector. Most of the data included in this document refers to the STM market (the fields of Science, Technology, Medicine) unless otherwise noted. All data and figures have sources.

Journals and articles.

There were about 28,100 active scholarly peer-reviewed English-language journals in late 2014 (plus a further 6450 non-English-language journals), collectively publishing about 2.5 million articles a year. The number of articles published each year and the number of journals have both grown steadily for over two centuries, by about 3% and 3.5% per year respectively, though there are some indications that growth has accelerated in recent year (from STM Association report)
Figure 1. The growth of active, peer reviewed learned journals since 1665 (Mabe 2003)    
Figure 2. Overall article growth from 2000 to 2010 (Björk 2010)        

Citations and references

Global scientific output doubles every nine years
Figure 3. Segmented growth of annual cited references from 1650 to 2012, from Nature        

Authoring practices

Scientific articles have increasingly become more and more collaborative. (Vesterman 2002)
Figure 4. Number of authors in the medical and astronomical literature, over time. Data source: Medline Database and Astrophysics Data System

Publishers and market size

The annual revenues generated from English-language STM journal publishing are estimated at about $10 billion in 2013, (up from $8 billion in 2008, representing a CAGR of about 4.5%), within a broader STM information publishing market worth some $25.2 billion. About 55% of global STM revenues (including non-journal STM products) come from the USA, 28% from Europe/Middle East, 14% from Asia/Pacific and 4% from the rest of the world.
Figure 5. Operating profits (million USD) and profit margin of Reed-Elsevier as a whole (A) and of its Scientific, Technical & Medical division (B), 1991–2013 (Larivière 2015)


  1. Michael Mabe. The growth and number of journals. Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community 16, 191–197 Ubiquity Press Ltd., 2003. Link

  2. Bo-Christer Björk, Patrik Welling, Mikael Laakso, Peter Majlender, Turid Hedlund, Guni Gunason. Open Access to the Scientific Journal Literature: Situation 2009. PLoS ONE 5, e11273 Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2010. Link

  3. W. Vesterman. THE DEATH OF THE SCIENTIFIC AUTHOR: Multiple Authorship in Scientific Papers. Common Knowledge 8, 439–448 Duke University Press, 2002. Link

  4. V Larivière, S Haustein, P Mongeon. The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era.. PLoS One 10, e0127502 (2015).

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