PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (5): 537-553.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.05.002

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Characteristics and future trends of geographic research in China: A bibliometrics analysis of highly cited articles in four major Chinese geographic journals

Gang LI(), Huijuan WANG, Dongyan KONG, Yanjun LIANG, Ran TAN, Qian LIU   

  1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China
  • Accepted:2015-12-01 Online:2016-05-27 Published:2016-05-27
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41201190;Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province, No.2014JM5205;Tourism Young Expert Training Plan of China, No.TYETP201558


We carried out a comprehensively bibliometric analysis of the top 500 highly cited articles published in four major Chinese geographic journals: Acta Geographica Sinica, Geographical Research, Scientia Geographica Sinica, and Progress in Geography, with regard to the temporal distribution of articles, ranking feature, keywords, authors, research institutions, and respective regions of first author institution. This article aimed to reveal the characteristics and trends of Chinese geography research. The results show that: (1) With regard to the temporal distribution of published articles, the four journals differed while highly cited articles concentrated in the period of 1995-2010. (2) The four journals showed a descending trend of negative power function in citation curves by citation ranking. (3) A similar trend appeared in both author and keywords’ numbers per article with the highest number of articles having 2~3 authors and 3~5 keywords, and the numbers of keywords are relatively high. (4) The keywords category statistics distinguished the key fields of the four journals while the core keywords statistics revealed key research topics and geographic relationship among various articles, with high frequency core keywords such as space, urban, land, change, ecology, China, region, tourism, environment, and development. (5) Most of the well published lead authors engaged in human and economic geography research and a group of academic leaders and active researchers made outstanding contributions. (6) Acta Geographica Sinica, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Beijing were at the top of the lists of journal, institution, and region rankings. Finally, this article discusses the directions for future work such as timeliness of study and explanatory power, domestic and international research data integration, construction of a comprehensive index system for academic contribution evaluation and research team evaluation, and balanced development and internationalization of Chinese geographic research.

Key words: geographic research, characteristics, trends, bibliometrics, four major Chinese geographic journals, highly cited articles, China