Mapping Vocabulary Research

Paul Meara


This paper illustrates how a bibliometric method known as co-citation analysis can help novice researchers find their way around a large research field. The method is illustrated using bibliographical data from a set of 100 papers in the area of L2 vocabulary acquisition. This is an area of research which has mushroomed in the last 20 years. The paper shows how a fairly accurate picture of current priorities in this field can be built up from relatively small amounts of bibliographical data, and suggests how beginning researchers might be able to use the approach to inform their own work.

Full Text:



Bastian, M., Heymann, S., & Jacomy, M. (2009). Gephi: an open source software for exploring and manipulating networks. Icwsm, 8, 361-362.Edwards, R and L Collins

Lexical frequency profiles and Zipf's Law. Language Learning 61,1(2011), 1-30.

Edwards, R., & Collins, L. (2013). Modelling L2 vocabulary learning. Vocabulary knowledge: Human ratings and automated measures, 157-183. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Dotsenko, T., & Leshchenko, Y. L2 vocabulary acquisition: an experimental study of cross-linguistic interaction in adult bilingual mental lexicon. ICT for Language Learning 5th Edition 2014, 1-4.

Hockett, C. F. (1958). A course in modern linguistics. New York: Macmillan (1958).

Malvern, D., Richards, B., Chipere, N., & Durán, P. (2004). Lexical diversity and language development. Quantification and Assessment. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Meara, P. M. (2014). Vocabulary research in the modern language journal: A bibliometric analysis. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 3(1), 1-28.

Meara, P. (2014). Life before nation: Bibliometrics and L2 vocabulary studies in 1982. In The functional perspective on language and discourse: applications and implications (pp. 111-130). John Benjamins Publishing.

Meara, P. (2015). Vocabulary research in 1983: A bibliometric analysis. Linguistics Beyond and Within, 1(1), 187-198.

Meara, P. (2016). Two steps backwards: A bibliometric analysis of L2 vocabulary research in 1984. Linguistics Beyond and Within 2, 139-152.

Meara, P. (2017). A new beginning? A bibliometric analysis of L2 vocabulary research in 1985 Linguistics Beyond and Within 3 (in press).

Meara, P. M., & Alcoy, J. C. O. (2010). Words as species: An alternative approach to estimating productive vocabulary size. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 222-236.

Nation, ISP. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.

Nation, ISP. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, ISP. (2013). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Price, D. J. D. S. (1965). Networks of scientific papers. Science, 510-515.

Small, H. (1973). Co‐citation in the scientific literature: A new measure of the relationship between two documents. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 24(4), 265-269.

Zipf, GK. (1935). The Psycho-Biology of Language. Boston, Ma.: Houghton Mifflin. 1935.


  • There are currently no refbacks.