VLI 3(1): Meara (2014)

Vocabulary Research in the Modern Language Journal: A Bibliometric Analysis
Paul M. Meara
Swansea University and Cardiff University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v03.1.meara

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This paper reports a bibliometric analysis of a set of 201 articles which was published in The Modern Language Journal (MLJ) between 1916 and 2010. All these articles deal with vocabulary acquisition. The paper reports an all-inclusive author co-citation analysis of this data, in an attempt to sketch out the historical development of vocabulary acquisition research. The paper presents a set of maps which shows whose work is being cited in the Journal. Co-citation links between cited sources allow us to identify research clusters which are characterised by patterns of citations. This paper uses these maps to show how the predominant research focus has changed significantly over the period studied. Much of the earlier work published in MLJ no longer figures in more recent research. The more recent research appears to be much more inward-looking and self-referential than is the case for the earlier research. This paper suggests that a co-citation analysis of research in a single journal does not capture the full richness of vocabulary research, which in turn raises some interesting questions about the selectivity of journals and their research biases.

Meara, P.M. (2014). Vocabulary research in The Modern Language Journal: A bibliometric analysis. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 3(1), 1-28. doi: 10.7820/vli.v03.1.meara