, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 831–846 | Cite as

The growth of science and database coverage

  • Carolin Michels
  • Ulrich Schmoch


Recently there has been huge growth in the number of articles displayed on the Web of Science (WoS), but it is unclear whether this is linked to a growth of science or simply additional coverage of already existing journals by the database provider. An analysis of the category of journals in the period of 2000–2008 shows that the number of basic journals covered by Web of Science (WoS) steadily decreased, whereas the number of new, recently established journals increased. A rising number of older journals is also covered. These developments imply a crescive number of articles, but a more significant effect is the enlargement of traditional, basic journals in terms of annual articles. All in all it becomes obvious that the data set is quite instable due to high fluctuation caused by the annual selection criteria, the impact factor. In any case, it is important to look at the structures at the level of specific fields in order to differentiate between “real” and “artificial” growth. Our findings suggest that even-though a growth of about 34 % can be measured in article numbers in the period of 2000–2008, 17 % of this growth stems from the inclusion of old journals that have been published for a longer time but were simply not included in the database so far.


Database coverage Growth of science Provider policy 



The research underlying this paper was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF, project number 01PQ08004D). Certain data included in this paper are derived from the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), and the Index to Social Sciences & Humanities Proceedings (ISSHP) (all updated June 2010) prepared by Thomson Reuters (Scientific) Inc. (TR®), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, USA: ©Copyright Thomson Reuters (Scientific) 2010. All rights reserved.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Competence Center Policy and RegionsKarlsruheGermany

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