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Recent trends in academic journal growth

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Since the publication of the first academic journal in 1665, the number of academic journal titles has grown steadily. In 2001, Mabe and Amin studied the pattern of growth in the number of academic journals worldwide, identifying three key development periods between 1900 and 1996. These three episodes are from 1900 to 1944, from 1944 to 1978, and from 1978 to 1996. The compound annual growth rates for each episode are 3.30, 4.68 and 3.31 % respectively. In this research, we seek to validate these findings, and extend on previous work to analyze journal growth patterns from 1986 to 2013. Our results show academic journals grew at an average rate of 4.7 % from 1986 to 2013, which is very similar to the growth rate during the Big Science period observed in the previous study. Our results also show that academic journals had an estimated 92 % Active rate, and 8 % Inactive rate annually. Out of all Active journals, approximately 43 % have high impact and reach JCR or SJR databases, and 26 % have relatively higher impact and are thus collected in the JCR database. The comparison results of Active/Inactive SJR and JCR journals suggest that lower impact journals have a higher chance to become Inactive than higher impact journals. With the wide use of the Internet in academic science, our results expectedly show that the number of Print-Only journals is gradually decreasing while the number of Online-Only journals is increasing. The growth of Online-Only journals exceeds the growth of Print-Only journals in 2007, and the number of Online-Only journals exceeded the number of Print and Only journals in 2012. More than 30 % Newly Created journals provide Open Access. It is suggested that we are experiencing the second journal boom in history and Internet technology has changed the academic publication system.

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Correspondence to Xin Gu.

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Gu, X., Blackmore, K. Recent trends in academic journal growth. Scientometrics 108, 693–716 (2016).

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