What do we talk about when we research the city? Academic publishing in urban studies

Paper presented at the EAAE-ARCC International Conference. The Architect and the City. Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain.


When we talk about urban studies, we focus on the physical environment that gives support to social, political and economic relationships, and therefore the approach is usually transdisciplinary and diverse. Research projects are broadly communicated to the scientific community through academic publications, and particularly through journals. Therefore, these periodicals on urban studies have concentrated on specialized scopes and have been included in indexes and databases according to their relevance. The academia has agreed to trust journals for measuring the research impact, but the question is raised about its general visibility in terms of real knowledge transfer.

This paper maps the scientific production about the city through the periodicals of recent years: we census a total of 682 journals related to urban studies on the Web of Science, Scopus, ERIH PLUS and the DOAJ platforms. We aim to know which journals support what kind of works, how different areas of knowledge intersect in them, which countries produce one or another type of research, and what study methods are used in research about the city. In addition to the quantitative results, the objective is to make a critical reading about the impact of what is published. In this regard, a final comparison is also made by putting in parallel the articles included in the most relevant journals and the research projects about the city and its particular problems that have been encouraged by the last Framework Program of the European Union.

The results show a clear fragmentation of the urban studies subject area and a traditional framing of the topics, with little presence of emerging issues. Besides, the research funds percentage is lower than in other knowledge areas. Finally, this study reveals a very limited open access to research that undoubtedly determines its visibility.

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