Contributions to Zoology, 76 (4) – 2007

Short notes and reviews

Contributions to Zoology, the Journal - diversity in research topics and changes over the last 27 years

Ronald Vonk1, Vincent Nijman2

1.  Zoological Museum of the University of Amsterdam/Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, PO Box 94766, 1090 GT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2.  Department of Anthropology and Geography, School of Social Science and Law, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK

Keywords: bibliographic analysis, biological research trends.



The journal Contributions to Zoology started in 1848 under the name Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde and adopted its current English name to be the leading title in 1995. Nearly 160 years and 76 volumes later it is one of the oldest zoological journals that is still regularly printed. In the past some volumes spanned multiple years and there have been periods, such as during the great wars, when publication of the journal was halted. Founded by the Royal Zoological Society ‘Artis Natura Magistra’, and later integrated in the University of Amsterdam in 1939, the journal is now published by the National Natural History Museum Naturalis in Leiden and the Zoological Museum of the University of Amsterdam in a joint venture. In this modest bibliographic study we analyse what has been published in Contributions to Zoology in the last 27 years and we assess which major taxonomic groups were studied, who conducted the research, and what the research topics have been.

For analysis we looked for some natural divides in the time period and grouped the 27 years into 4 periods bounded by changing editor-ship, i.e. 1981-1990 (J.H. Stock), 1991-1995 (S. van der Spoel), 1996-2002 (F.R. Schram), and 2003-2007 (R.W.M. van Soest and R. Vonk). All editors were associated with the Zoological Museum Amsterdam, and their research focused mainly on (fossil or extant) aquatic invertebrates.

Table 1 shows that although the journal has attracted papers from a wide variety of taxa, perhaps in line with the research interests of the editors, there is a strong tendency for papers to be published on invertebrates. In the past at least six out of ten papers accepted for publication dealt with invertebrates, whereas in the last few years more and more papers on vertebrates get published. Despite the large number of insect species in the world, entomologists have rarely found their way to Contributions to Zoology, and probably seek out the specialised journals.

Table 1. Breakdown of papers published from 1981-2007 according to taxon studied. Presented are, respectively: total number of papers, (yearly average), percentage.