Whilst perusing the archives of Journal of Physics C (JPC) (later to become JPCM in a merger with Journal of Physics F) it struck me how much journal articles have evolved over the past 50 years, perhaps reflecting the research environment. And I’m not even talking about changes due to technological advances, such as video abstracts and mobile views. For example, how often these days do you see a paper with a one line abstract and just four references? Indeed, how often do you see a paper with just one author?
Here we look at four different aspects of a paper and see how things have changed from 1968 to 2015.
1) Number of authors
The average number of authors per paper has increased from about 1.5 in 1968 to 5 in 2015.
2) Number of references
Reference lists have ballooned, almost tripling in size since the first issue of JPC.
3) Length of abstract
Gone are the days of two line abstracts. The median length for a JPCM paper of today is eight lines. Is this because authors (in general) have more to say, need to impress peers and funding bodies, or have lost the art of succinctness?
4) Geographical spread
Over the past 50 years JPC/JPCM has become a much more international journal. In the first ever issue in 1968 roughly 75 % of the corresponding authors were from the UK. In the first issue of the 2015 volume this figure was just 4 %.
It will be interesting to see how the picture has changed in 20-30 years’ time. That’s if journal articles are still in existence. As a Publisher, reader and (in a former life) author, I certainly hope so.
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Image by Horia Varlan, published under a CC BY 2.0 license.
Categories: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter