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From a historical point of view, several trends and observations have been described over the last few decades: First of all, the productivity of scholars in the field of science communication has increased significantly [e.g. The analysis by Trench and Bucchi  of the geographic locations of the research contributions included in their anthology [Bucchi and Trench, 2014] reveal a positive trend in terms of both cross-institutional and cross-country collaborations — i.e.there has been an increase in multi-authored papers where authors are based at more than one institution (increasing institutionalisation), as well as a growth in the number of collaborative, multi-country studies (increasing internationalisation).
The same authors also demonstrate the increasing gender diversity of authors.
Irrespective of these trends, many scholars agree that scholars from Western, English-speaking countries continue to dominate the field [e.g. However, the bibliographic characteristics of science communication research outputs have rarely been analysed in a systematic way, despite the view that such overviews of research fields are important in identifying trends and challenges [Schäfer, 2012], or for defining a discipline [Gascoigne et al., 2010].
Research papers that have been published in the three main journals of the field — Science Communication: Linking Theory and Practice, — since 1979 (the launch of the first journal) up until 2016, were analysed according to bibliographic data to identify trends in publication rates and patterns of authorship, as well as the geographical spread and gender balance of authors.
Such a systematic analysis of research outputs makes it possible to highlight research gaps and challenges, and to inform future research priorities [Schäfer, 2012].
In 2016, for the first time, JCOM published not four but six issues per year.
Lastly, in his meta-analysis focusing on research on the media coverage of science, Schäfer  also highlights that the number of published articles increased significantly in this field which represents a prominent secondary field of enquiry within the field of science communication.Research literature dealing with bibliographic data that characterises research outputs in the field of science communication is relatively scarce [e.g., Bucchi and Trench, 2014; Borchelt, 2012] and the existing analyses were in some cases not done broadly or systematically.The current study — attempting a broad and systematic bibliographical analysis — is the first one that goes back to the launch of the first journal dedicated to this field (1979) up to 2016, and is therefore a first step towards a more comprehensive view of trends in science communication research.However, to the authors’ knowledge, there were no similar bibliographies available for other main journals in the field.Similarly, the journal Science Communication expanded from four to six issues per year in 2012, which Hornig Priest  attributes to a growing number of submissions resulting from the growth and stature of the field.Science communication has become widely recognised as a global phenomenon, incorporating the work of many scholars with diverse (research) backgrounds [e.g.Bucchi and Trench, 2014; Burns, O’Connor and Stocklmayer, 2003; Schiele, Claessens and Shi, 2012a; Trench and Bucchi, 2010].More systematic approaches document that, in the 1 237 papers from 471 different journals explored in Borchelt’s  study, more than twice as many articles were published between 20, compared to the period 2000 to 2004.Bauer and Howard  provide an interesting bibliography of publications in the journal Public Understanding of Science for the time frame 1992 — 2010.Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry.Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West.