How common is MATLAB in academia?

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We are currently arguing that MATLAB is widely used within academia, but the only reference we have is Wikipedia which says that MATLAB was used by about one million in 2004. That is a long time ago... So I wonder:
1) How many universities use MATLAB?
2) How many people use MATLAB?
3) Where can I find such statistics?
The reason why I want to know is because I want to argue in research papers that MATLAB is a good platform to develop open access scientific analysis tools and convince reviewers by giving some concrete statistics on how common MATLAB is within academia. Given that, I would like world-wide stats and include all possible fields of science...
Best regards /
Pär Nyström

Accepted Answer

Michelle Hirsch
Michelle Hirsch on 9 Feb 2015
Very interesting question and discussion! As you all mentioned, MATLAB has long been a de facto language and platform for several engineering and scientific disciplines. As Andreas mentioned, we have been offering so-called "Total Academic Headcount" site-wide licenses for a handful of years now. These licenses are making it easier for schools to make MATLAB available to their entire community.
Some statistics, as Pär requested:
  • MATLAB is used at over 5,000 universities and colleges worldwide.
  • Over 3 million students, professors, and researchers have access to MATLAB at schools with Total Academic Headcount licenses. Countless more have access at schools which use other licenses, such as large shared network licenses.
  • Tens of thousands of students get their own personal copy of MATLAB every year by purchasing one of either MATLAB Student or MATLAB and Simulink Student Suite.
It is probably also worth noting that Home Use licenses are now available, to provide access to MATLAB for personal use outside of a school or work setting.
Hope this helps!
  1 Comment
Pär Nyström
Pär Nyström on 10 Feb 2015
This is exactly what I needed! Thank you Michelle! I think those numbers will convince most reviewers :)

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More Answers (3)

Andreas Goser
Andreas Goser on 9 Feb 2015
Hello Pär, You will get the best response when you share the background of the question. What will you do with it? Are you interested about worldwide figures or local? and is it about a specifc field like engineering where MATLAB and Simulink likely are seen as standard or fields like social science or economics, where MATLAB is used, but probably can grow more.
  2 Comments
Andreas Goser
Andreas Goser on 9 Feb 2015
Very good, that helps a lot. So this means the audience of this tool is likely worldwide universities. The point is of course the information you seek is partly information about MathWorks business success and obviously such a public forum is not the greatest place to do so. Let me make some generic statatement I hope are useful for you. Please contact me directly if you like.
  • In Europe, I am convinced all universities have MATLAB
  • The trend is to have so called "Total Academic Headcount (TAH) Licenses", allowing all students and researchers the access to MATLAB and plenty of toolboxes
  • The universities have different communication strategies around the TAH. Two examples from Sweden I found:
https://intra.kth.se/it/mjukvara/progbib/avtal/matlab-1.344604
https://www.nsc.liu.se/systems/triolith/software/triolith-software-apps-matlab.html
  • You can do the math yourself, but it looks like in Sweden almost every student or researcher has access to MATLAB.

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Erik S.
Erik S. on 9 Feb 2015
Hi,
From you name I guess you are Swedish?! I can tell you that at Chalmers Matlab is more or less standard.
  1 Comment
Pär Nyström
Pär Nyström on 9 Feb 2015
Yep, I am Swedish :)
MATLAB is well established at Uppsala University as well, but as soon as we want to publish new software as open access many reviewers think that MATLAB is too propriate. However, there are many researchers using MATLAB that could have great use of what we do, and I would like to cite some statistics...

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Erik S.
Erik S. on 9 Feb 2015
Within my field (Energy technology and Multiphase flow) I saw authors of scientific papers refering to matlab code provided which they provide on Mathworks file exchange. I think it is a neat way of makeing the work more transparent. How is it in your field Pär?
  1 Comment
Pär Nyström
Pär Nyström on 9 Feb 2015
There are plenty of ways of sharing code :) Many people in my field host it themselves at their university servers (although this is not very safe from an open access perspective), on Mathworks and open repositories such as FigShare...

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