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Price revisited: on the growth of dissertations in eight research fields
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of ALM.
2011 (English)In: Scientometrics, ISSN 0138-9130, E-ISSN 1588-2861, Vol. 88, no 2, 371-383 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper studies the production of dissertations in eight research fields in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. In using doctoral dissertations it builds on De Solla Prices seminal study which used PhD dissertations as one of several indicators of scientific growth (Price, Little science, big science, 1963). Data from the ProQuest: Dissertations and Theses database covering the years 1950-2007 are used to depict historical trends, and the Gompertz function was used for analysing the data. A decline in the growth of dissertations can be seen in all fields in the mid-eighties and several fields show only a modest growth during the entire period. The growth profiles of specific disciplines could not be explained by traditional dichotomies such as pure/applied or soft/hard, but rather it seems that the age of the discipline appears to be an important factor. Thus, it is obvious that the growth of dissertations must be explained using several factors emerging both inside and outside academia. Consequently, we propose that the output of dissertations can be used as an indicator of growth, especially in fields like the humanities, where journal or article counts are less applicable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 88, no 2, 371-383 p.
Keyword [en]
History of science, Dissertations, Publication analysis, Growth of science
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-156219DOI: 10.1007/s11192-011-0408-8ISI: 000292210400003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-156219DiVA: diva2:431489
Available from: 2011-07-20 Created: 2011-07-18 Last updated: 2012-04-16Bibliographically approved

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Hammarfelt, Björn
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