A Bibliometric Analysis of English for Specific Purposes from 2011 to 2023 Using Citespace: Visualizing Status, Themes, Evolution, and Emerging Trends
Introduction. Research on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) emerged in the 1960s. A few researchers conducted reviews on ESP literature. However, there is currently a lack of up-to-date and comprehensive bibliometric analysis covering the last decade from an international perspective, particularly covering the last decade's developments in ESP research.
Purpose. Combining bibliometric analysis and systematic review of the literature on English for Specific Purposes, this study serves to objectively maps the knowledge area, and aims to identify the current status, major research themes, evolution, and the emerging trends in this field.
Method. To maintain the objectivity and transparency, the review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Based on literature retrieved from the Web of Science core collection, a total of 1657 bibliometric records published from 2011 to 2023 were visualized and analyzed via Citespace.
Results. The current research status through publication distribution and co-country network shows that the research is undergoing a steady increase and international authorship. Clusters and systematic review of citing articles indicate four themes, i.e., “linguistic inquires”, “teaching pedagogy”, “student learning”, and “teacher development”. Through the timezone view of keyword co-occurrence network, four features, such as the predominance of genre, corpus and pedagogy, varied pedagogies, varied research methodologies, and technology-assisted teaching, were identified. The keyword and citation burst detection, as well as systematic review of citing articles, were conducted to identify the research trends. It is found that EAP, teacher development, needs analysis in under-researched settings, as well as EMI and Corpus-based teaching pedagogies are the new frontiers in this field.
Conclusions. The field of English for Specific Purposes continues to experience exponential growth and development, indicating an ongoing expansion and advancement of research in this area. This paper provides references for researchers to understand the status, hidden structure, evolution, and emerging trends of research on English for Specific Purposes.
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