Bibliometrics of Water Research: A Global Snapshot

Mehmood, Hamid (2019). Bibliometrics of Water Research: A Global Snapshot. UNU-INWEH Report Series. United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

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  • Sub-type Research report
    Author Mehmood, Hamid
    Title Bibliometrics of Water Research: A Global Snapshot
    Series Title UNU-INWEH Report Series
    Volume/Issue No. 6
    Publication Date 2019
    Place of Publication Hamilton
    Publisher United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)
    Pages 24
    Language eng
    Abstract This report examines the various dimensions of global water-related research over the 2012-2017 period, using extensive bibliographic data. The review covers trends in water-related publications and citations, the relative importance of water-related research in the overall body of scientific research, flows of water-related knowledge between countries and the dynamics of water research publishing opportunities. In summary, it shows that: less than 50% of all countries are publishing water-related research, that China and USA are the two top publishers, and that China’s publishing rate has been growing steadily over the study period. More than 70% of water-related publications originating in USA are being cited globally, while China’s water research output appears to be primarily internally cited at present. Analysis of the global water knowledge flows suggests that research is hardly addressing a range of regional water challenges. Countries with protracted water problems – for example in infrastructure, environment, agriculture, energy solutions – do not seem to be at the forefront of water research production or knowledge transfer. Instead, global water research is reliant on Western, particularly US-produced, scientific outputs. A disconnect is also observed between the percentage increase in the publication and the number of citations, suggesting low quality or a narrow focus of many publications. Among other factors, this may reflect the pressure on researchers to contribute a certain number of publications per year, or of the progressively increasing role of grey literature in scientific discourse that ‘diverts’ some citation flow. Analysis of the number of research publications per million people suggests that water research does not necessarily emerge as a reaction to water scarcity in a specific country, but may be driven by the traditional economic value of water supply, geopolitical location, a focus on regional development - including cross-border water management - or development aid spending, or globally applicable research in water management. The proportion of water research in the overall research output of a country is small, including for some of the top-publishing countries. The number of water-related journals that create opportunities for publishing water research, has grown dramatically in absolute terms since 2000, and is now close 2100 journals. The metrics used in this report are based on readily available bibliographic data. They can be further focused to better understand a specific thematic domain, geographical region or country, or to analyze a different period. To help accelerate solutions to global and national water challenges that many of these research papers are highlighting, the water research community needs to look beyond the research ‘box’ and identify ways to measure development impact of water research programmes, rather ‘impact’ based solely on academic impact measured in citations. The research findings, learning and knowledge in these research publications needs to be conveyed in a practical way to the real users of this knowledge – stakeholders who are beyond research circles.
    Copyright Holder United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)
    Copyright Year 2019
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Wed, 10 Jul 2019, 03:56:15 JST by Anderson, Kelsey on behalf of UNU INWEH