Comparing the post-WWII publication histories of oceanography and marine geoscience

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Oceanography and Marine Geosciences are closely related subjects, though they have had differing influences. The UK, which has experienced the financial benefits of North Sea oil and gas, while also having an extensive fishing industry and a science base linked to other English-speaking countries and European countries, potentially illustrates some changing influences and collaborative tendencies well. In this article, differences in article publication rates and collaborative tendencies, both globally and for the UK, are examined using the Web of ScienceTM, ScopusTM and GeorefTM for the period 1946 to 2018. The results show that publication rates of global Oceanography articles rose exponentially faster than all global scientific publishing from the mid-1960s to 1980. Subsequently, the exponential rate of increase slowed though has remained faster than global science publishing. Global Marine Geoscience publication rates increased into the late 1980s, but have since declined. UK Oceanography has roughly followed global trends, though its share of global oceanographic publishing declined from 28% in the 1950s to 8% in 2018. UK Marine Geoscience publishing has also generally followed global trends for that field. However, its share of global publications abruptly increased from 4.9% (average 1960-1980) to 13.2% by 1990, largely due to articles arising from UK participation in the Deep-Sea Drilling Project and Ocean Drilling Program. Oceanography and Marine Geoscience have also experienced strongly differing histories of collaborative articles over the last four decades. While oceanographic articles co-authored with researchers in other countries have been steadily increasing as a share of total UK Oceanography articles, those of Marine Geoscience peaked in 1990 and have since declined, though remained at high levels similar to those experienced by 2018 in Oceanography. Comparing global publication rates in both fields with measures of data and sample collection at sea suggests fundamental changes occurred in the way research was carried out. For example, Marine Geoscience publication rates were strongly correlated with geophysical track-line distances for the decade until ~1970, but were inversely correlated for the decade after then. This reflects, for example, the development of plate tectonics, which partly involved analysis of existing marine geophysical data, improved equipment capabilities and the increased role of scientific drilling.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date26 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2020


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