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CEFR Journal - Research and Practice - Volume 1 (May 2019)

Volume: CEFR Journal - Research and Practice Volume 1 (
Date: May 20, 2019
Title: Impact of the Common European Framework of Reference—A bibliometric analysis of research from 1990-2017
Page: 18 - 32
Author: Judith Runnels (University of Bedfordshire) & Vivien Runnels (University of Ottawa)
This article is open access and licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.
Abstract: Published in 2001, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a reference framework which informs teaching, learning and assessment in language education, appears to be increasingly recognized, referenced and utilized in language education contexts worldwide. To date however, the extent, provenance and adoption of the collected body of knowledge concerning the CEFR has yet to be systematically analysed, rendering it difficult for any conclusions to be made about its impact. A bibliometric analysis was therefore conducted to explore the CEFR from the document’s more formal origins in 1990 to the end of 2017 for the bibliometric indicators of number of publications per year, geographical location of research, highly cited works and journals with the highest number of relevant publications. The findings show that research on the CEFR has increased significantly over the examined time. The majority of publications with a focus on the CEFR are European, but numbers are increasing in geographical areas outside of Europe, and particularly in Asia. The framework is discussed in numerous types of publications covering a range of topics in language education. These findings suggest that the CEFR has been used in contexts beyond its origins and has influenced many aspects of language education around the globe. Diffusion of innovations theory suggests that the CEFR’s impact and influence is likely to increase over the next ten years in and outside of Europe and especially in Asia.

Keywords: CEFR, bibliometric analysis, bibliometric indicators, adoption, diffusion, diffusion of innovations, educational innovation
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(Last update March 6th, 2023 MGS)


This online toolkit is supported by KAKEN Grant-in-Aid project no. 20K00759, no. 19K00808 and no. 16K02835 and aims to support teachers of all foreign languages in Japan in using the CEFR and CEFR/CV efficiently.