Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics, Department of English Language, Imam Khomeini International University, Qazvin Iran


This study explored the research methodology and research orientation of the papers published in seven world-leading applied linguistics journals from 1980 to 2019. To that end, a corpus including 3491 papers from seven applied linguistics journals was investigated. The papers were examined for their research methodology based on qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods methodologies and their research orientations based on ten research orientations that were the main focus of applied linguistics studies. The research orientations were obtained from the topics of special issues of the applied linguistics journals. The papers were extracted and analyzed for their research methodologies and orientations according to the three research methodology types and ten research orientations. The results of the study indicated that from 1980 to 2000, the dominant research methodology was quantitative one, while from 2001 to 2019, the qualitative research methodology had an increasing trend of being used by applied linguistics researchers. Moreover, the results of the current study showed that from 2010 to 2019, the applied linguistics researchers showed positive attentions to use mixed methods methodology in their research studies. Furthermore, the corpus analysis from 2000 to 2019 indicated that teaching, teachers, and assessment issues started to show an increasing trajectory of being addressed in the applied linguistics papers. Thus, this study's findings can help the researchers, especially the less experienced ones, refine their knowledge about what has already been done in the field to focus their research studies on the less-examined issues.


Main Subjects


Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Sorensen, C. K., & Walker, D. (2014). Introduction to research in education (9th Ed). Wadsworth: London.
Bachman, L. (2006). Generalizability: A journey into the nature of empirical research in applied linguistics. In M. Chalhoub-Deville, C. A. Chapelle, & P. Duff (Eds.), Inference and generalizability in applied linguistics: Multiple perspectives (pp. 165–207). Dordrecht: John Benjamins.
Benson, P., Chik, A., Gao, X., Huang, J., & Wang, W. (2009). Qualitative research in language teaching and learning journals, 1997–2006. The Modern Language Journal, 93(1), 79–90.
Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. I., Gutmann, M., & Hanson, W. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori, & C. Teddlie (eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioural research (pp. 209–240). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
De Fina, A. (2015). Narratives and identity. In A. De Fina, & A. Georgakopoulou (Eds.), The handbook of narrative analysis (pp. 351-368). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2008). Strategies of qualitative inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.
Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. The Modern Language Journal, 81(3), 285-300.
Fishman, J. A. (2010). Theoretical and historical perspectives on researching the sociology of language and education. In K. A. King & N. H. Hornberger (eds.), Research methods in language and education: Encyclopedia of language and education 10 (pp. 3–15). New York, NY: Springer.
Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). Grounded theory: The discovery of grounded theory. Sociology the Journal of the British Sociological Association12(1), 27-49.
Hartley, J., Pennebaker, J. W., & Fox, C. (2003). Abstracts, introductions and discussions: How far do they differ in style? Scientometrics, 57(3), 389–398. doi: 10.1023/A:1025008802657.
Johnson, R. B., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004). Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come. Educational Researcher, 33(7), 14–26.
Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Lazaraton, A. (2000). Current trends in research methodology and statistics in applied linguistics. TESOL Quarterly, 34(1), 175–181.
Lei, L., & Liao, S. (2017). Publications in linguistics journals from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau (2003–2012): A bibliometric analysis. Journal of Quantitative linguistics, 24(1), 54-64.
Lei, L., & Liu, D. (2019). Research trends in applied linguistics from 2005 to 2016: A bibliometric analysis and its implications. Applied Linguistics, 40(3), 540-561.
Ma, J., & Porter, A. L. (2015). Analyzing patent topical information to identify technology pathways and potential opportunities. Scientometrics102(1), 811-827. doi: 10.1007/s11192-014-1392-6.
Magnan, S. S. (2005). From the editor: Presenting the special issue. Modern Language Journal, 89(3), 315–316.
Mao, J., Cao, Y., Lu, K., & Li, G. (2017). Topic scientific community in science: A combined perspective of scientific collaboration and topics. Scientometrics112(2), 851-875. doi: 10.1007/s11192-017-2418-7.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2006). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ortega, L., & Iberri-Shea, G. (2005). Longitudinal research in second language acquisition: Recent trends and future directions. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25(1), 26–45.
Rashidi, N., & Meihami, H. (2018). Informetrics of Scientometrics abstracts: A rhetorical move analysis of the research abstracts published in Scientometrics journal. Scientometrics, 116(3), 1975-1994.
Riazi, A. M., & Candlin, C. N. (2014). Mixed-methods research in language teaching and learning: Opportunities, issues and challenges. Language Teaching47(2), 135-173.
Richards, K. (2009). Trends in qualitative research in language teaching since 2000. Language Teaching, 42(2), 147–180.
Sahragard, R. (2004). In search of research methodology for applied linguistics. Pan-pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 9(1), 258-272.
‎Sahragard, R., & Meihami, H. (2016a). A diachronic study on the information provided by the research titles of applied linguistics journals. Scientometrics, 108(3), 1315-1331.
Sahragard, R., & Meihami, H. (2016b). An investigation into research methodology and research orientation of the studies published in journal of teaching Persian to speakers of other languages. TPSOL, 5(1), 121-140.
Sayer, A. (1992). Method in social science: A realist approach. London: Routledge.
Spindler, G., & Hammond, L. (2000). The use of anthropological methods in educational research: Two perspectives. Harvard Educational Review70(1), 39.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed method research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Trofimenko, A. (1990). Scientometric analysis of the topical content of scientific research and its particularities. Scientometrics18(5-6), 409-435. doi: 10.1007/BF02020154.
Whissell, C. (2013). Titles in highly ranked multidisciplinary psychology journals 1966–2011: More words and punctuation marks allow for the communication of more information. Psychological Reports, 113(3), 969–986.
Yihong, G., Lichun, L., & Jun, L. (2001). Trends in research methods in applied linguistics: China and the West. English for Specific Purposes 20(1), 1-14.
Zand-Moghadam, A., & Meihami, H. (2016). A rhetorical move analysis of TEFL thesis abstracts: The case of Allameh Tabataba'i University. Issues in Language Teaching, 5(1), 23-1.
Zand-Moghadam, A., Meihami, H., & Ghiasvand, F. (2018). Exploring the English language needs of EAP students of humanities and social sciences in Iran: A triangulated approach. Issues in Language Teaching, 7(1), 135-164.