The bibliometrics of adult education research

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Photo: Anna Bäcklin Lindén

Adult education research - a bibliometric history

This project aims to characterize the field of research on the education and learning of adults by means of large-scale bibliographic analysis. Characterizing a research field includes the (re)construction of scientific borders and comprise research themes, objects, methodologies as well as the identification of dominating theories.

In short, our intention is to “objectify” this field of research through investigations of the dominating epistemologies, the most popular research objects, and prevailing methodological expertize. We treat the different approaches and contributions to scientific journals as productive forces in order for the field to come into existence, be legitimised, and acknowledged but we also seek to dismantle the power relations between and among scholars and to foster “epistemological reflexivity” among colleagues.

Some of the results that can be highlighted thus far:

• Authors from the UK, USA, Australia and Canada dominate the space of citations in terms of who is publishing in indexed English speaking journals.
• Authors located “anglophone countries” are also cited more often than authors located elsewhere, even if we take into consideration the entire share of published articles and its relative weight.
• Sociocultural theories on learning is the dominating theory and act as “broker” or “mediator” between researchers in different research areas and across different geographical locations.
• The field is dominated by qualitative research, often with interviews and observations as their primary data.
• Editors for indexed journals in the field are centrally located in the space of citations and form subgroups that relate to wider disciplinary borders such as sociology, organisational studies, work-place learning, and so on.

Funding: Linköping University



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