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Abstract  

It is commonly stated and believed that scholarly and scientific journal literature is growing exponentially. To obtain a truer picture of the situation, a study was made of a sample of 190 journals that started life in or before 1950, 20 in each of 9 subject fields, plus 10 extra in literature. The number of articles in each journal in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1987 was counted. The analysis showed a rapid growth in most subjects up to 1970, a much slower growth between 1976 and 1980, and a slow growth or decline between 1980 and 1987; the fields of decline included general and physical science and technology. The total number of journals is still increasing, but the rate of growth has dropped dramatically over the last ten years. Although it is possible that more recently established journals would show a different pattern, it seems likely that the overall rate of growth of the total number of journal articles is slow.

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