At the start of the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), the question of how research priorities in ocean science have evolved until now is highly pertinent. The UN Decade highlights the essential role oceans play in both the global economy as well as the climate. Not only is ocean science expected to contribute to understanding the ocean as an ecosystem of interconnected seas and oceans, it is also called on to analyse environmental effects of pollution, overfishing, and climate change (e.g. rising sea levels), and to assist in constraining the effects of intensified ocean exploitation. The UN calls for a ’globally coordinated’ ocean science to explore sustainable uses and protection of oceans, seas and coastal environments. But (how) can coordination be achieved when today, ocean scientific research priorities have not only diversified, but are also weighed against highly demanding, multifaceted, and sometimes even conflicting missions?
In a new working paper, we provide a perspective on major trends in the epistemological and institutional history of global and European ocean science between 1980-2020. The working paper is brimming with rich analyses Judit Varga performed using scientometric methods (quantitative data analysis pertaining to scientific publications), based on Web of Science (WoS) data. Scholars have studied sub-topics within ocean science using scientometrics, such as trends in global ocean power generation (Chen et al., 2021), trends in macroalgal biomass research as a source of biofuel feedstock (Coelho, Barbosa, and Souza, 2014), research on the interactions between marine fish and plastic debris (Santos de Moura and Vianna, 2020), research about arsenic bioaccumulation in marine ecosystems (Li, Zhong, and Zhang, 2020), or research on estuary pollution (Sun, Wang, and Ho, 2012). In addition, Elango and Rajendran (2012) have studied collaboration patterns in marine science, and Charles (2017) focused on key geographic centres of ocean science knowledge production. To our knowledge, no study thus far mapped institutional and epistemological trends in global and European ocean science to date.