PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (1): 112-124.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.01.011

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Quantitative analysis and challenges of Chinese human geography in the international academia since 2000

Jinliao HE(), Xianjin HUANG*()   

  1. School of Geographical and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
  • Received:2016-09-01 Online:2017-01-20 Published:2017-01-20
  • Contact: Xianjin HUANG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571162;Key Project of Jiangsu Higher Education for Philosophy and Social Sciences, No.2014ZDIXM001


This article presents an analysis on international journals in the broad discipline of human geography indexed by the US Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), including 115736 articles from 156 Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) journals published during 2000-2013. It examines the performance, trends, characteristics, and challenges of Chinese human geography in the process of internationalization by an in-depth analysis of knowledge production in terms of the number of papers, citations, and top institutions and scholars in current human geography literature. The results show that: First, contemporary human geography is comprised of orthodox geographies (for example, economic geography, urban geography, cultural geography, and political geography), environmental studies, urban studies, development and planning, and economics, which are interconnected. There is an evident shift of western human geography towards social and cultural dimensions. Second, it is an indisputable fact that China has emerged as an important contributor for international literature in human geography in recent years with respect to not only the amount of paper production, but also highly influential publications and leading institutions and scholars. Nevertheless, at present China is not in the position to challenge the Anglo-American hegemony in the global pattern of human geography. Third, Chinese human geography is highly characterized by developmentalism and empiricism, being excluded from the mainstream fields of human geographical strands and epistemologies. Lastly, there exist huge gaps in the areas of cultural and social geography, innovation-based studies, social networks, and regional governance between Chinese and international studies, which requires a timely research agenda to promote reform of current institutions of China's educational and research systems, and to make fruitful dialogues with external scholarship.

Key words: human geography, interdisciplinary, bibliometric analysis, social and cultural turn, world class university, China