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Examining Digital Government Publication Trends



Findings

This section presents preliminary findings according to several categories: (1) overall publishing trends, and (2) publishing trends by discipline and journal.

Overall DG publishing trends. A total of 114 DG articles were identified, representing approximately 4.9 percent of the total number of articles published by the twelve journals from 1999 to 2003 (total articles published = 2333). In 1999, a combined total of 437 articles were published by the leading journals and 13 of those were digital government research articles (about 3 percent). Four of the twelve journals were publishing DG research in 1999.

In 2000, the number of journals carrying DG research increased to six, with each of the six publishing at least one article. The total number of articles published in 2000 was 472 and seven articles were identified as DG research (about 1.5 percent).

By 2001, the number of journals reporting digital government research had doubled since 1999 (to eight) and of 485 articles published that year, 37 of them were DG research (about 7.6 percent). However, in 2001, the Communications of the ACM published a special issue with 26 digital government articles.

A total of 521 articles were published in 2002, and 23 (about 4.4 percent) were DG research. The information for 2003 is not complete, however as of October, there were 418 articles published and 34 (about 8 percent) were DG articles. Again, the Communications of the ACM published a special issue with 27 digital government articles.

Considering Outliers Our analysis shows that special issues can increase the number of digital government articles published. This seems to be the case for the Communications of the ACM (CACM). If we were to take out the CACM from our population, the overall trends in DG research publication changes. For example, in 2001, 485 DG articles were published that year, 37 of them were DG research or 7.6 percent. But, CACM’s special issue contributed 26 of those articles and Figure 1 shows the changes in trends when we take out the CACM, which is an outlier. If we take out the CACM articles, then the number of articles published that year shrinks to 11 and the total shrinks to 334 articles published that year, 11 of them were DG research or 3.2percent. In 2002, if we take out CACM special issue articles totaling 27, our DG article total shrinks to 7 for 2003 or 2.7 percent.

Figure 1. Percent of DG Articles Published per Year

Figure 1. Summary of Publishing Trends 1999 - 2003

DG publishing trends by discipline and journals. There seems to be a difference in the way that each discipline’s top journals treat DG research. For example, by 2001 each of the four major public administration journals carried at least one DG article. The average in public administration was 2.25 articles published a year, and there was an overall increase in DG articles published within the discipline from 1999 – 2002 of 400 percent (from 2 to 10 articles). Therefore, public administration journals have provided a relatively small but increasingly steady publishing outlet for DG research. Over five years, public administration journals have published roughly 26 percent of all DG articles found.

In 1999, none of the public policy journals had published DG research and by 2003, only three of the four had. Of the three journals that did, each only published one article over a three year period (publishing either in 2000, 2001 and 2003). None of the journals published DG articles consecutively, from year to year, throughout 1999 - 2003. Over five years, public policy journals have published 3.5 percent of all DG articles found. Drawing from this statistic, the trend reveals that public policy journals do not readily accommodate DG research or appear to moving in that direction.

Finally, in 1999 two of the four management information systems journals published DG research and by 2003, three of the four had. Of the three that have published DG articles, one journal started in 1999 with two DG articles that year and has since not published anymore. Another journal did not publish DG research until 2001 and has subsequently published one DG article per year.

Consideration of Outliers. Figure 2 shows the trend over a five-year period. Management information systems have published approximately 70 percent of all DG articles found. However, of the 80 published DG research articles by this discipline, 75 of the articles or 94 percent of the total published in the MIS discipline, appeared in the Communications of the ACM. In addition, of the 75 articles published by the CACM, 53 articles or 71 percent were in two special issues during 2001 and 2003. Therefore the last journal, Communications of the ACM, disproportionately represents the level of DG research being published by in MIS discipline.

Figure 3 shows the distribution of articles without adding the CACM. The proportion of public administration journals is larger and the management information systems discipline prominence is reduced. Figures 4 and 5 also show a similar change in the patterns of the DG research publications.

Figure 2: Overall DG Publishing by Journal
Figure 2: Overall DG Publishing by Journal

Figure 3: Overall DG Publishing by Journal
Figure 3: Overall DG Publishing by Journal

Figure 4: Publishing Trends by Discipline and Year
Figure 4: Publishing Trends by Discipline and Year

Figure 5: Publishing Trends by Discipline and Year w/out CACM
Figure 5: Publishing Trends by Discipline and Year w/out CACM

Characteristics of authors. DG articles have been published by authors from 20 different countries and by scholars in a variety of disciplines including public administration, political science, law, business management, computer science, information science, environmental studies, geography, and information studies. Scholars tend to publish in journals most closely associated with their discipline. Additional research is scheduled to be carried out that surveys directly authors working in the area of digital government.