Investigating the sustainability of linguistics as a discipline in
Mainland China based on the national research funding: A bibliometric
National research funding regulates government research expenditures and
thus greatly affects the sustainability of the academic disciplines.
This study examined the sustainability of linguistics based on national
research funding over the past 20 years (2000-2020). In particular, we
used a bibliometric approach to examine the evolutionary trends in the
number of topics, important factors, and major research themes in the
field of linguistics based on the National Social Science Foundation
(NSSFC). The main findings are three-fold and summarized as follows.
First, a significant increase in awarded grants in linguistics was found
over the examined periods. Second, influential factors such as regions,
institutions, and academic ranks significantly affected the likelihood
of receiving research grants. Third, eight major research themes were
identified, along with their evolving trends. These identified research
themes were similar to those in previous studies and focused on basic
research. The results further indicate: (1) linguistics as an academic
discipline in China has undergone sustainable growth over the examined
periods; (2) close attention should be given to critical factors that
affect the chance of receiving research grants; (3) research grants
reflect government’s strategic plans to sustain the growth of academic
disciplines; (4) research grants can work as a helpful tool for mining
research information. Practically, while the present study has taken
China as the representative case, the methods in use nevertheless have
high ecological validity, thus being applicable to future studies
concerning mining research themes from voluminous, diachronic text data.
Besides, the current results can also serve as practical references for
prospective researchers and applicants in their decision-making process.