Science's Go-Go Growth: Has It Started To Slow?

The size of science as measured by the number of journals being published "tends to double within a period of 10 to 15 years," Derek J. de Solla Price observed in his 1963 classic book Little Science, Big Science (New York: Columbia University Press). Price found that this "fundamental law," as he called it, held true not only for the period between the end of World War II and the early 1960s, but also consistently since the early 18th century. However, while Price's data sup

David Pendlebury
Aug 6, 1989
The size of science as measured by the number of journals being published "tends to double within a period of 10 to 15 years," Derek J. de Solla Price observed in his 1963 classic book Little Science, Big Science (New York: Columbia University Press). Price found that this "fundamental law," as he called it, held true not only for the period between the end of World War II and the early 1960s, but also consistently since the early 18th century.

However, while Price's data supported the notion of go-go growth in scientific publications, he knew that that kind of growth could not be sustained indefinitely.

"It is just possible," he wrote, "that the tradition of more than 250 years represents a sort of adolescent stage during which every half century science grew out of its order of magnitude, donned a new set of clothes, and was ready to expand again."...