[PW] Languages of publication

Chris Zielinski chris at chriszielinski.com
Sun Apr 7 09:56:50 PDT 2019

Spurred by Jay Dillon's question about language use, may I ask my own language/information question? 

About 20 years ago, as an employee of the World Health Organization, I was giving talks about how information form developing countries was undervalued. Now that I have left WHO, I'm doing that again, but my original sources of the associated statistics have vanished. Can someone either point me to the best sources or actually supply the new data/sources for the following assertions (which were true in 1996)? Most of them came from Weiss, P., 1986. Health and Biomedical Information in Europe, Public Health in Europe 27, WHO/EURO. 

Below are data from 1996 - what is the situation now? 

1. Volume of publication: 
1.1 about 10 million scientific and technical documents are published annually 
1.2 75,000 books are being issued annually - 20 times as much as in 1910 
1.3 100,000 journals are currently being published 
1.4 some 6,000 to 7,000 journal articles are written every day 

2. Languages of publication: 60% in English; 10% in German; 8% in Russian; 7% in French; 15% In the rest of the world's languages 

3. Information sources: Regarding articles/papers published in scientific journals of international coverage: 82% are from OECD countries; 7% are from Eastern Europe; 5% are from Asia; 4% are from Latin America; and 2% from continental Africa 

4. Assertions about information use: 
4.1 75-85% of all publications are without practical importance 
4.2 Half of all published papers contain statistical errors 
4.3 At least 50% of all published literature is never consulted or cited 
4.4 Typically 10% of the journals in any given library account for 80% of usage while at least 50% of the journals are never even consulted once 
4.5 Up to 90% of the contents of most journals are on no interest to most of the readers 
4.6 Most people in the world cannot consult research literature in their native language 

I will, of course cite whoever provides me with a comprehensive reply in any talks/wriings that use this information.


Chris Zielinski
chris at chriszielinski.com
Blogs: http://ziggytheblue.wordpress.com and http://ziggytheblue.tumblr.com 
Research publications: http://www.researchgate.net

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