This paper uses a structured literature review approach to investigate how seaports have been studied during the last three decades (1980s–2000s), and to provide a detailed analysis of seaport-related research during this period. To this end, 840 academic papers of relevance were identified. This paper develops a structured analysis of the relevant literature with general trends and research sub-themes being analysed on a decadal basis. In addition, consideration is given as to how the identified trends and research themes have reflected the evolution of seaports. It is shown that the scale of research related to seaports increased substantially during the 2000s, and that seaport research has become a dominant theme in the area of maritime economic studies. It is also clear that there has been a diversification of research with several new themes emerging, reflecting the evolution of the port industry such as the changing role of seaports in supply chains and logistics.