Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Instructional Design and Development

Committee Chair

Gayle V. Davidson-Shivers, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to examine instructional design (ID) articles in a broad range of scholarly journals published from 2001 through 2020 to determine the field’s state of publication. By using three bibliometric methods, content analysis, citation analysis, and network analysis, the publication patterns and content of the articles were examined. Specific purposes were to determine the most prolific and highly cited scholars, countries, and journals; to determine trends evident in the bibliometric data; and to compare the differences in coverage and accuracy of the citation indices Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar within the parameters of the study. Bibliometric data for the study were collected by searching each of the three citation indices for articles with the keywords “instructional design” from 160 journals selected for the study based on prior compilations of significant publications in the field of ID. These articles were limited to publications dates 2001-2020 and English language. The searches retrieved 853 articles from the Web of Science, 973 from Scopus, and 8069 from Google Scholar. Bibliometric analyses were applied to the retrieved articles. Results of the analyses identified the most prolific authors as J. J. G. van Merriënboer, F. Paas, and P. A. Kirschner. D. M. Merrill, M. D. Dickey, and T. A. Brush were the most cited xiii authors. Authors in 61 countries published articles matching the study’s parameters. The United States was the most active country in publishing ID articles, followed by the Netherlands, Taiwan, Germany, and Australia. Topics in ID articles changed during the timeframe of the study. In 2001, frequent topics related to the mechanics of instructional design, but in 2020, technology and instructional delivery platforms had become the most frequent topics, perhaps due to the COVID pandemic and the resulting transition from classroom instruction to e-learning and remote instruction. Journals with the highest number of ID articles were Computers in Human Behavior, Instructional Science, Educational Technology & Society, and TechTrends. Educational Technology Research & Development and Computer & Education were also the most highly cited ID journals during this 20-year period. Citation analyses revealed that ID authors tend to repeatedly cite the same authors. Additionally, co-citation and bibliographic coupling are common among ID articles. Numerous instances of co-authorship are evident as well. Scopus and Web of Science were noted to be similar in coverage and accuracy. Google Scholar retrieved many more articles but included more irrelevant items, thus requiring time-consuming efforts from the researcher to identify pertinent items. Google Scholar also contained more errors in names and punctuation. It appears to be best suited for a broad search for information on a topic, while Scopus and Web of Science are more suitable for scholarly research. This study offers insight into the productivity, trends, and emphases of specific ID journals as well as of the ID field in general. The research supports scholarly communications by identifying collaboration patterns and opportunities for researchers and their institutions.