Climate content of Environmental Research Letters
Posted by Ari Jokimäki on April 17, 2015
Environmental Research Letters (ERL) is relatively new scientific journal. It was first published in 2006. ERL deals with different environmental issues and climate change is one such issue. I checked all ERL issues for climate change related papers (between 2006-2014) and the results are presented below.
Papers that relate to climate change are very diverse in their subjects. The papers are dealing with the climate system, the carbon cycle, climate change impacts (in biosphere for example), and climate change mitigation, to name a few. ERL publishes papers on all these. ERL publishes also some perspective articles for the studies published in ERL. Perspective articles have been excluded from this analysis because I wanted to concentrate on original research articles. Also corrections have been excluded (as they only add to an existing study). It should be noted that this analysis is based mostly on paper titles. Only in few cases where title has not been clear but has suggested the possibility of being climate change related, I might have peeked the abstract of the paper in question.
According to my results, ERL has published 1348 research articles in years 2006-2014. Of these, 888 papers relate to climate change. The percentage of climate papers is then about 65.9%. In my opinion, this is quite high percentage. Perhaps it shows that among environmental issues, climate change is an important one.
This also raises a question about whether ERL should concentrate a bit more on the other environmental issues in addition to climate change. With two thirds of papers being climate change related papers, perhaps it could be argued that ERL actually is more a climate journal than environmental journal. A peek to the papers reveals further that among the climate change related papers, ERL has published some papers that are more climate science than environmental science, although this distinction might not be very clear these days. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing, though.
Figure 1 shows the evolution of annual paper counts (top panel, total paper count in black and climate paper count in red) and the evolution of annual climate paper percentage in ERL (bottom panel). Paper counts increase from 2006 to 2013, but there is a drop in paper counts from 2013 to 2014. Reason for this is not clear. Between 2013 and 2014, ERL did switch from 4 issues per year to 12 issues per year but I’m not sure how this should affect the published paper count. The climate paper percentage increases from 2006 to 2010 and then drops and stays relatively stable after that. Reason for this is not clear either. Perhaps they noticed that they are turning into climate journal and made some corrective maneuvres.
I won’t include the list of ERL climate change related papers here, but the list (containing the journal volume & issue, publication year, paper title, and paper’s URL) is available upon request.