, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 675–685 | Cite as

Global analysis of the E-learning scientific domain: a declining category?

  • Gerardo Tibaná-Herrera
  • María Teresa Fernández-Bajón
  • Félix de Moya-Anegón


The scientific production in E-learning has an average annual growth rate of 16%, which along with the 3.9% annual increase in the number of virtual students worldwide present a very favorable prospect for the category. However, the growth in scientific production is not constant. The objective of this work was to analyze the behavior of scientific production in E-learning from a bibliometric perspective in the 2003–2015 period, to identify its evolution in relation to other areas of knowledge. The methodology used compared production in E-learning versus world production, production by regions and blocks of countries and production of related areas of knowledge. With these results, a visualization was generated in VOSViewer under the overlay mapping technique to identify the dynamics of the 81 existing scientific journals in the category. This analysis determined that the growth in production in E-learning is due to the contribution of the journals in Social Sciences and that the decrease during the years 2013–2015 is mainly due to the fact that Computer Science have decreased their contribution in conference papers and reviews. In conclusion, E-learning is on the decline, since the growth offered by the Social Sciences is not enough to counteract the decline in the contribution of Computer Science. The method used in this study is a contribution to bibliometric techniques to explain the behavior of scientific production in a certain area of knowledge.


E-learning Bibliometric Global analysis Scientific production SCOPUS SCImago 



Thanks to SCImago Research Group for providing the production data (NDoc) of the E-learning subject category.

Author contributions

GT-H: Primary author, MTF-B, FM-A: Analysis and review.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Availability of data and materials

Data related to this research were provided by SCImago Research Group. These are protected by licensing and copyright.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerardo Tibaná-Herrera
    • 1
    • 3
  • María Teresa Fernández-Bajón
    • 2
  • Félix de Moya-Anegón
    • 3
  1. 1.PhD Library Science ProgramComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Library and Information ScienceComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.SCImago Research GroupMadridSpain

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