How Many Journal Articles Have Been Published?

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How many journal articles have been published so far?

It’s a very intriguing question, isn’t it?

The world of academic publishing is vast and ever-expanding. The global academic landscape is teeming with many scientific and academic papers. Every year, more than 5 million research documents are published, encompassing the following materials:

  • Academic books
  • Journal articles
  • Conference papers
  • White papers and technical papers
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Monographs
  • Academic reports

A study found that since 1996, more than 64 million academic papers have been published. These numbers continue to rise every year.

How many journal articles have been published?

The staggering numbers highlight the explosive growth of scientific research and academic publishing over the past few decades. With new journals launching yearly and existing journals publishing more papers than ever, the total output of scholarly literature seems to increase exponentially.

But who reads all these papers? It’s estimated that, on average, slightly more than ten people read a research paper. What about journal papers?

While the published body of scientific knowledge is growing, the question remains whether it is being absorbed and utilized to its full potential.

With millions of research and academic materials published annually across thousands of academic niches, even experts in a field can struggle to keep up with the latest developments. This massive volume of published research raises important questions about the evolving world of journal publishing.

How can scholars and professionals stay current in their areas of expertise? What incentives drive the publication of so many articles? And how can we ensure that meaningful discoveries are findable amidst the sea of published papers? As publishing metrics and numbers continue to rise, it’s worth examining if growth matches the growth in knowledge and impact.

How Many Academic Journals Are There Today?

There are more than 30,000 academic journals globally, with the number projected to increase to 33,080-34,050 journals by 2025. The journals publish on various fields and scopes, including science, engineering, humanities, social sciences, medical, law, management, information technology, mathematics, business, accounting, education, and psychology.

The United Kingdom and the United States lead the world with a combination of over 10,000 academic journals published annually, accounting for over 20% of the global scholarly journal publishing.

Hundreds of new ranked journals seem to crop up yearly to accommodate the ballooning mass of publishable research.

Academic Journal Publishing Models

The world of academic publishing has a variety of models that journals use to publish and disseminate their content. The two most common models are the subscription model and the open access model.

The subscription model is the traditional model of academic publishing. In this model, readers (or, more often, their institutions like universities or libraries) pay a subscription fee to access the journal’s content. The subscription can be for a single journal, a bundle of journals from the same publisher, or even a package of journals across multiple publishers.

The advantage of the subscription model is that it provides a steady stream of revenue for the publisher. However, the downside is that it restricts access to those who can afford the subscription fees, which can be quite high.

In contrast to the subscription model, open access journals allow anyone with internet access to read the articles for free. The authors (or their institutions or funders) cover the publishing costs and pay article processing charges (APCs) once their paper is accepted for publication.

The benefit of the open access model is that it promotes wider dissemination and accessibility of research findings. However, it can place a financial burden on researchers, particularly those from low-income countries or less-funded research areas.

There are also hybrid models where a journal operates mainly under the subscription model but offers authors the option to make their articles open access for a fee. This model combines elements of both the subscription and open access models.

Moreover, there’s a growing movement towards “diamond” or “platinum” open access, where neither the reader nor the author pays. These journals are usually funded by an organization, institution, or consortium that values the free dissemination of research.

It’s important to note that regardless of the publishing model, all these journals strive to ensure rigorous peer-review processes to maintain the quality and integrity of the academic literature they publish.

The Number of Journal Articles Published

Each year, over 2 million new research articles are published in more than 30,000 peer-reviewed journals across all fields of study.

With more than 2 million journal articles, the number of academic papers published yearly is staggering. With new journals constantly emerging, this immense literature volume can be hard to wrap your head around.

The rate of publication output has also seen an upward trajectory in recent years. The compound annual growth rate of publication output increased by 5% over the four years from 2017 to 2020, a slight uptick from the 4% growth rate observed over the longer 11-year period from 2010 to 2020.

Moreover, established journals publish way more papers yearly than they used to. Overall, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of articles published per journal. Many publish thousands of papers annually – a major change from old publishing patterns.

The world of academic literature is expanding rapidly. Making sense of millions of journal articles is no small feat. But staying informed about the research happening in your field is crucial, even in the face of information overload.

The number of academic journals being published each year continues to rise staggeringly. Hundreds of newly ranked journals enter publication annually. This proliferation of journals provides more opportunities for researchers to disseminate their work but also makes it challenging to keep up with the latest publications.

In addition to more journals, existing publications are increasing the number of papers they publish each year.

According to the data from the Scimago Journal Rank and Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) datasets, the number of published papers per journal increased sharply, from a mean of 74.2 papers in 1999 to a mean of 99.6 papers in 2016. While a more updated study is needed, the growth pattern will continue for at least another decade.

Of all active academic journals globally, more than 100 journals publish over 1,000 papers annually, and the number continues to increase. Reputable journals that once published hundreds of articles annually are now releasing thousands.

Journals with massive resources, such as PLOS One, publish over 20,000 articles annually. This indicates a shift in publishing norms, with journals taking on higher volumes of articles and researchers producing work at faster rates.

Some experts argue the increasing trend diminishes the value of individual publications, overwhelms readers, and encourages academic publishers to make more money. Academic publishing has been labeled “greedy” for this practice.

The rise in the number of new journals and papers per journal has exponentially increased the scientific literature. While more research is being conducted and shared than ever, the overabundance of publications raises questions about the efficacy of academic metrics and best practices for disseminating quality research.

Changes in Metrics Over Time

The world of academic publishing has undergone significant transformations in recent decades. Two notable trends are the doubling of papers published in top-tier journals and the exponential growth in total papers published annually.

High-Impact Papers, High-Impact Journals

Over the past two decades, the number of papers published and indexed in the top database quartiles (Q1 and Q2) has also increased. This dramatic increase reflects the rise in submissions to top journals as more researchers enter the field.

What makes a quality, high-impact scholarly paper?

A quality, high-impact scholarly paper possesses several key characteristics. These include:

Originality and novelty. High-quality research should contribute something new to the field of study. It could be a new theory, method, data set, or empirical findings that have not been previously published.

Rigorous methodology. The research methodology should be sound and appropriate for the research question. This includes the design of the study, the data collection process, and the analysis of the results. The methodology should be detailed so that other researchers can replicate the study.

Significance and relevance. The research should be important and relevant to the field. It should address a significant problem or gap in the existing literature.

Clear and concise writing. The paper should be well-written and easy to understand. It should clearly state the research question, explain the methodology, present the results, and discuss the implications of the findings.

Valid and reliable results. The study’s findings should be valid (i.e., they accurately represent what they are supposed to measure) and reliable (i.e., they would be the same if the study were conducted again under the same conditions).

Peer-reviewed. High-quality papers typically undergo a rigorous peer-review process, where other experts in the field review the paper for its validity, significance, and originality.

Citation potential. High-impact papers are those that other researchers frequently cite. The number of citations a paper receives is often used to indicate its impact on the field.

Ethical considerations. Any ethical issues related to the research should be addressed. This includes obtaining informed consent from participants, ensuring confidentiality and anonymity, and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Transparency and openness. High-quality papers make their data, code, and other research materials available. This allows other researchers to verify the results and build upon the research.

Contribution to knowledge. The paper should significantly contribute to the existing body of knowledge. It should advance our understanding of a particular topic or issue.

It’s important to note that while these are general characteristics of high-quality, high-impact papers, the specific criteria can vary depending on the field of study.

However, it also suggests that these journals have become less selective in what they publish, possibly due to commercial pressures. Some experts argue this inflation has diluted the value of appearing in elite journals.

Impacts on Metrics and Evaluation

These trends require rethinking how we evaluate academic success. Metrics like publication count and journal impact factor are becoming less meaningful amid the journal publishing boom and the continued rise in journal articles. Citation-based measures are also problematic when citing references is increasingly performative.

How many journal articles have been published?

More holistic evaluation criteria emphasize research quality and contribution over quantity. This may involve peer assessments, evidence of real-world impact, and valuing datasets/code as research outputs. Reform is critical to ensure scholarship retains meaning and purpose.


We have learned that there are more than 30,000 academic journals globally, estimated to grow to 33,080-34,050 journals by 2025, publishing in various fields and scopes.

More than 60 million academic papers have been published in the past decade.

How many journal articles have been published out of this 60 million?

As of the write-up, 2 million articles are published yearly, a truly massive number. Is it good or bad? Well, that depends.

The continued growth in journal numbers and articles published significantly impacts metrics and evaluation in academia.

The increase in papers published in top-tier journals suggests that they have become less selective in their publication. This could be due to commercial pressures as more researchers enter the field and submit their work to these prestigious journals. As a result, the value of appearing in elite journals may have been diluted.

Furthermore, the exponential growth in total papers published across thousands of journals has led to an overabundance of publications. This makes it difficult for scholars to keep up with the literature in their field. It has also enabled the rise of predatory journals that publish anything for a fee, undermining quality control in academic publishing.

These trends in academic publishing require reevaluating how academic success is evaluated. Traditional metrics like publication count and journal impact factor are becoming less meaningful in the face of the publishing boom. Citation-based measures are also problematic, as citing references may be more performative than indicative of quality or impact.

Instead, more holistic evaluation criteria that emphasize research quality and contribution over quantity are needed. This could involve peer assessments, evidence of real-world impact, and valuing datasets and code as research outputs. Such reforms are critical to ensure that scholarship retains its meaning and purpose in the age of information overload.

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