May 18, 2022

Research Article: “Scopus 1900–2020: Growth in Articles, Abstracts, Countries, Fields, and Journals”

The article linked below was recently published by Quantitative Science.


Scopus 1900–2020: Growth in Articles, Abstracts, Countries, Fields, and Journals


Mike Thelwall
University of Wolverhampton

Pardeep Sud
University of Wolverhampton


Quantitative Science Studies 1–17.
DOI: 10.1162/qss_a_00177


Scientometric research often relies on large-scale bibliometric databases of academic journal articles. Long term and longitudinal research can be affected if the composition of a database varies over time, and text processing research can be affected if the percentage of articles with abstracts changes. This article therefore assesses changes in the magnitude of the coverage of a major citation index, Scopus, over 121 years from 1900. The results show sustained exponential growth from 1900, except for dips during both world wars, and with increased growth after 2004. Over the same period, the percentage of articles with 500+ character abstracts increased from 1% to 95%.  The number of different journals in Scopus also increased exponentially, but slowing down from 2010, with the number of articles per journal being approximately constant until 1980, then tripling due to megajournals and online-only publishing.

Figure 3. Number of Scopus narrow fields with specified minimum numbers of articles

The breadth of Scopus, in terms of the number of narrow fields with substantial numbers of articles, simultaneously increased from one field having 1000 articles in 1945 to 308 in 2020. Scopus’s international character also radically changed from 68% of first authors from Germany and the USA in 1900 to just 17% in 2020, with China dominating (25%).

Direct to Access Article
17 pages; PDF.

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