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Open AccessArticle

Ten Years of Sustainability (2009 to 2018): A Bibliometric Overview

1
Business School, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China
2
Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, University of Granada, E-18071 Granada, Spain
3
National Institute of Measurement and Testing Technology, Chengdu 610021, China
4
Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
5
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1655; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051655
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 28 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018

Abstract

Sustainability (SUS) is a journal in the field of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability of human beings and civilization, which was founded in 2009. This paper provides a comprehensive bibliometric overview of the journal and 6459 publications from 2009 to 2018. In the paper, we first introduce the materials and methods used. Next, we provide the bibliometric results in four parts. In the first part, we present the publication structure and citation structure of SUS, including annual trends of publications and citations, sources that cite SUS publications, and the most highly cited papers in SUS. The primary influential countries and institutes as well as their co-authorship networks are illustrated in the second part. The co-citation networks of cited references, journals and authors are shown in the third part. Finally, the co-occurrence network of keywords and bursting citation keywords is detected. VOSviewer and CiteSpace software packages are used for graphical visualization.
Keywords: sustainability; bibliometrics; citations; co-citation; VOSviewer; CiteSpace sustainability; bibliometrics; citations; co-citation; VOSviewer; CiteSpace

1. Introduction

Sustainability (SUS) is an international and multidisciplinary journal covering several fields including sustainability and sustainable development, environmental and ecological science, social science, economics and cultural issues. It is an open access journal. SUS was founded in 2009 with four issues. After 2009, it was published monthly. Up to now, SUS has attracted the broad attention of scholars and research institutes. It has an important impact on the sustainable development of human beings and civilization. SUS has been indexed by the well-known database in Web of Science (WoS), namely, the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), since 2011. The impact factor of SUS has been recorded since 2013. In 2013, the journal impact factor was 1.077. There was a slight decline in 2014 (0.942). In the next two years, 2015 (1.343) and 2016 (1.789), the journal impact factor grew steadily. SUS is located in Switzerland and its publisher is MDPI.
Bibliometrics uses statistics and visualization methods to explore the structures and patterns of certain disciplines [1]. A variety of topic categories have been analyzed with bibliometrics, such as green innovation [2], big data medical [3], supply chain management [4], operations management [5] and fuzzy theory [6]. We can understand systematically the development of these disciplines through bibliometric analyses. Most bibliometrics studies analyze specific disciplines, but there is another kind of bibliometric study that aims to present the basic structure of a specific journal. For example, Schwert [7] provided a bibliometric overview of the Journal of Financial Economics between 1974 and 1991. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Knowledge-Based Systems, Cobo et al. [8] presented a bibliometric analysis of the journal. Merigó et al. [9] and Yu et al. [10] investigated all publications of Information Sciences from 1968 to 2016. Tang et al. [11] provided a bibliometric review and visualization of International Journal of Fuzzy Systems between 2007 and 2017.
The above papers focusing on a specific field or a certain journal can provide a guidance for the future development of disciplines or journals. For instance, in Ref. [3], the authors analyzed nearly 1000 publications in the domain of medical big data. Based on their analysis results, they found that individualized medical treatment and precision medical treatment are important development directions in medical big data. Ref. [6] concentrated on fuzzy decision making between 1975 and 2015. Its conclusion was that some small countries can also exert an influence on fuzzy theory. As for sustainable development, it is particularly important to explore the development trends. Jia and Jiang [12] provided a bibliometric review of sustainable global sourcing and gave eight future directions for that field. De la Cruz-Lovera et al. [13] discussed the sustainable development status of public buildings and presented the status of this field. Their work could help the scientific community to better understand the current situation and to predict future dynamics and changes. Thus, it is hoped that our paper can provide useful guidance for the journal and fields related to it.
This paper carries out a systematic bibliometric analysis of SUS. To do this, we firstly provide the publication structure and citation structure of SUS, including the annual trends of publications and citations, the sources that cite SUS publications, and the highly cited papers in SUS. Secondly, we discuss the prolific countries/regions and the co-authorship network of the publications in SUS. Next, the co-citation network of the cited references, journals and authors is illustrated. Finally, we display the co-occurrence networks of the keywords and the bursting keywords of SUS. The objective is to better understand the impact of SUS and its publications.
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 introduces the materials and methods used. In Section 3, we present the results of performance including the publication and citation structures and influential countries and institutes. Section 4 displays science mapping in detail. In Section 5, the results are discussed. Section 6 closes the paper with some interesting concluding remarks.

2. Materials and Methods

The data used in this paper are obtained from the WoS. There are 6459 publications in total from 2009 until now (2 March 2018). Regarding the document types, there are 6296 articles, occupying a share of 96.92%. Other types of published work includes reviews (347), meetings (146), editorials (61), corrections (14), letters (2), biographies (1), retracted publications (1) and retractions (1). Note that SUS was indexed by WoS starting in 2011 and there are 6228 publications that are included in the SSCI database of WoS. In this paper, the 6459 publications are used to analyze the publication and citation structures of SUS, while the 6228 publications downloaded from the SSCI database of WoS were used for the co-authorship analysis, the co-citation analysis and the keywords analysis, in part based on visualization software. The 6228 publications were downloaded on 2 March 2018 in the form of a tab separator format.
The term “bibliometrics” was first coined by Pritchard [14] in 1969. Bibliometrics refers to the field that investigates groups of publications by quantitative analysis methods. Many bibliometric indicators are used in this paper including the numbers of publications and citations, the average number of citations per year, and the H-index [15]. The number of publications can reflect the contributions of authors and institutes. The numbers of citations and average citations often are correlated with the quality and influence of scholars. The H-index considers the quantity and quality of academic output simultaneously. There are two main methods for bibliometrics: performance analysis and science mapping [16]. Performance analysis includes the publication and citation distributions in terms of authors, countries, and institutes. Science mapping uses visualization software to present the subject structure. Much bibliometrics software has been developed, such as VOSviewer [17], CiteSpace [18], Bibexcel, CoPalRed, VantagePoint and IN-SPIRE. VOSviewer is widely used and has a powerful user graphic-interface and mapping visualization capability [17]. CiteSpace was developed by Chen [18]. These two software packages are based on a Java environment. The inputs of these software packages are a collection of research materials in terms of a specific field or a journal. Then, various functions such as citation performance, co-citation network, co-authorship network, and bibliographic coupling supported by the software packages allow users to investigate the structure of a field or a journal. In this paper, VOSviewer and CiteSpace are used to analyze the publications in SUS. The co-occurrence, citation, co-citation and bibliographic coupling network is obtained by VOSviewer. We adopt citation burst detection [19] to obtain the keyword citation bursts by CiteSpace.

3. Performance Analysis

In this section, we provide a comprehensive bibliometric analysis for the publications in SUS. The publication and citation distributions, the sources that cite SUS publications, and the most highly cited papers in SUS are presented in Section 3.1. The active countries or regions, and the active institutes and their co-authorship networks are shown in Section 3.2.

3.1. Publication and Citation Structures of the Publications in Sustainability (SUS)

SUS published 6459 studies from its inception in 2009 to 2 March 2018. The annual distribution of these 6459 publications is illustrated in Figure 1. In the first four years, from 2009 to 2012, the number of publications was under 200. Compared with 2010 (138), the number of publications in 2011 (128) declined slightly. After 2012, the number of publications exhibited a significant growth trend. There were more than 1000 publications in 2016 (1357) and 2017 (2391). This growth implies that SUS is attracting the attention of more and more scholars.
We present the annual citation structure of the publications in SUS between 2009 and 2018 in Table 1. There are 7 papers that have more than 100 citations; 2.32% of the documents have more than 20 citations and 8.50% have more than 10 citations; 60.12% of the publications received at least one citation, implying that the majority of SUS publications attracted scholars’ attention. In terms of the average citations per paper from 2009 to 2018, we can see that the citation rate first increased and then decreased, with a peak value observed in 2011 of 15.72 citations per publication. It is reasonable that at the beginning, from 2009 to 2011, the impact of publication was increasing year by year. Also, new publications need some time to catch up regarding citations, so it is natural that the average citations should decrease after a period of time.
The analysis of who is paying attention to the publications in SUS is also interesting. Table 2 lists the top 30 journals, countries/regions and institutes that cite SUS publications. Some papers had international co-authorships. In these cases, every country and institute is counted one time. For example, if one paper contains authors from three countries, then these three countries are counted one time separately. As can be seen, SUS itself ranks first with 2496 times. It is a common phenomenon for a journal to cite itself [20]. At the second position is Journal of Cleaner Production with 658 papers, followed by Energies (203), Renewable Sustainable Energy Reviews (188) and Science of Total Environment (125). The majority of these journals are related to energy, the environment and ecology, which indicates the theme of SUS. As for the countries/regions, China is the leading citing country citing SUS. More than half of the citing countries are from Europe. How to achieve sustainable development is an urgent issue for most countries. Moreover, when considering the citing sources in terms of institute, it is seen that China has 9 institutes in the top 30 citing source list. Note that China here refers to mainland China, not including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. There is one institute from Hong Kong. The remaining 20 institutes are all located in Europe or the USA.
Next, we present the top 30 highly cited papers in SUS (see Table 3). As mentioned above, there are seven articles that have more than 100 citations. Finkbeiner et al. [21] published in 2010 ranks first with 162 citations. In this article, Finkbeiner et al. [21] explored a method to measure sustainability performance. In these 30 highly cited papers, review articles have good performance given that the 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 18th, 19th and 30th are review articles, occupying one third of the top 30 highly cited papers. Of these highly cited papers, 18 were published in the first three years of SUS (2009–2011). The papers published in the last several years still need time to catch up. As for average citations by year, Dixit et al.’s [22] article occupies the first place with 20.25 citations per year.

3.2. Influential Countries/Regions and Institutes

The top 30 most productive countries of SUS publication from 2009 to 2018 are presented in Table 4. The table includes 17 European countries, 7 Asian countries/regions, 3 North American countries, 1 Oceania country, 1 African country and 1 Latin American country. China is seen to be the most prolific country with 1893 publications. The USA, South Korea, Italy and Germany rank from 2nd to 5th, respectively. The USA exhibits good performance in terms of highly cited papers. There are 8 papers that have more than 50 citations, far ahead of other countries. What is more, as seen in Table 3, most highly cited papers were written by scholars from western countries/regions. There are no papers by scholars from China or South Korea, which are two of the top three productive countries. To achieve a breakthrough in quality, efforts may be required to establish or improve fair peer review systems and to set up scientific self-organization mechanisms that can address internal problems of the scientific community and coordinate efforts to do so. It is possible that the importance of quality needs to achieve a more widespread recognition and a consensus among researchers.
The global distribution of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018 is shown in Figure 2. Figure 2 reveals that SUS publications are widely distributed around the world, although the main output is in Asia, North America and Europe.
We also divide the distribution of publications into two stages: 2009–2013 and 2014–2018. The last four columns of Table 4 show the numbers of publications and citations in two stages. Compared with the first stage, China and South Korea exhibit a rapid increase in the numbers of publications and citations. Figure 3 and Figure 4 present global distributions of the publications in SUS from 2009 to 2013 and from 2014 to 2018, respectively. Comparing Figure 3 and Figure 4, it is seen that many countries have exhibited progress in publications.
To further study the influential countries, we next discuss the international country co-authorship network of SUS publications. Up until now, co-authorship has been the most common way of cooperation. International country co-authorship is one of the most important forms of co-authorship. We can find the active countries/regions from the international country co-authorship network. Furthermore, international co-authored articles normally have a good performance in terms of numbers and citations [51,52].
We developed the international country co-authorship network map using VOSviewer software (see Figure 5). In Figure 5, a node represents a country/region. The size of the node denotes the activity of the country/region. A line is established when two countries/regions have a collaborative relationship. The thickness of the line reflects the tightness of cooperation between countries/regions. We set the threshold as 10; then there are 62 countries/regions meeting the requirement. The VOSviewer software divides these 62 nodes into 6 clusters. One color represents one cluster. As we can see from Figure 5, China, the USA, South Korea, Italy and Spain are the biggest nodes. Italy, Spain, England, Netherlands, Sweden and Poland belong to the red cluster. The USA, Mexico, Brazil and Chile belong to the blue cluster. South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand belong to the green cluster. Therefore, geographical location is an important factor that determines international cooperation. In addition, China and South Korea have thick belts with the USA. Nowadays, increasing international exchanges have promoted academic communications. An increasing number of scholars have chosen to go abroad for further studies and academic visits, especially between the USA, China, as well as South Korea.
Many institutes around the world have publications in SUS. Table 5 lists the top 30 most prolific institutes. The institute rankings in the general Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) are also provided in Table 6. The Chinese Academy of Sciences ranks first with 374 publications, followed by Beijing Normal University (93), North China Electric Power University (81) and Wuhan University (75). Note that the Chinese Academy of Sciences does not participate in university rankings. Chinese institutes have more influence in SUS publications than other countries’ institutes. In the list, China has 4 institutes in the top 5 most productive institutes and 13 institutes in the top 30. China and South Korea are seen to be the leaders in SUS publications presently. Nearly two thirds (19/30) of prolific institutes are from these two countries.
We also present the institute co-authorship network map in Figure 6. There are 4294 institutes which have publications in SUS. We selected the top 50 institutes to display in Figure 6. The VOSviewer software divided these 50 institutes into 7 clusters with 7 different colors. The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Normal University are the two biggest nodes in Figure 6. Korean institutes are concentrated in the green cluster. The distance between Nanjing University and South-east University is very close. It can be seen that language and geographical position are important factors that affect the cooperation of institutes.

4. Science Mapping Analysis

4.1. Co-Citation Analysis

Co-citation analysis was first introduced by Small [53]. Two documents establish a co-citation relationship when they appear in the references of another document simultaneously. In general, if two documents establish a co-citation relationship, they are more or less similar. There are mainly three types of co-citation analysis: reference co-citation analysis, institute co-citation analysis, and author co-citation analysis. In this section, we illustrate the co-citation networks of cited references, institutes and authors.

4.1.1. Co-Citation Network of Cited References

The reference co-citation network of SUS publications is displayed in Figure 7. We set the threshold as 30, and 51 references meet this requirement. The references that have been cited more than 30 times by SUS publications are shown in Figure 7. There, a node represents a document. The size of the node indicates the frequency that the document is cited by SUS publications. A bigger node represents a higher frequency. A line between two nodes indicates that they have been cited by SUS publications at least once.
The most cited references by SUS publications are listed in Table 7. The authorship, publication year, sources, number of citations and citations according to the Core Collection database of WoS are also presented in Table 6. The work of Fornell and Larcker [54] ranks first with 103 citations. They introduced a comprehensive testing system based on methods of shared variance in that paper, which received more than 18,000 citations in WoS. At second place is the article by Charnes et al. [55], which provided a novel non-linear programming model and used it in controlling and evaluating managerial measures for public programs. The third paper published in Nature demonstrated that ecosystem services play a critical role in human welfare [56]. In Ref. [57], Ajzen reviewed planned behavior theory and discussed some issues that are difficult to resolve. A new approach to maintain global sustainability was proposed by Rockstrom et al. [58]. Ostrom’s article [59] ranks sixth with 50 citations by SUS publications. Ostrom established a framework to analyze social-ecological systems’ sustainability. In 7th place is a review [60], which provided a comprehensive summary for sustainable supply chain management. Ref. [61] investigated the consequences of global land use from various perspectives. Large-scale land use has influenced the sustainability of ecosystems. As can be seen, most of these highly co-cited references are about ecosystems and sustainability. These 10 articles can be divided into two categories with 4 papers related to social science and 6 related to natural science. The six natural science articles are about ecosystem services, natural capital, safe operating space, environment competitiveness and land use. These topics are attracting much attention from SUS publications, demonstrating that SUS is focusing on urgent problems of ecosystem protection and sustainable development. These will be topics that merit continuous consideration in the future. The social science articles are about decision-making, planned behavior, supply-chain management and structural equation models. SUS is also a major journal in the management-related spheres. Therefore, management science can also be a priority direction for SUS.

4.1.2. Co-Citation Network of Cited Sources

Journal co-citation analysis is another significant type of co-citation analysis. We provide the co-citation network of cited sources in Figure 8. We set the threshold at 300, and 108 journals are selected for inclusion in Figure 8. In Figure 8, different colors represent different clusters. VOSviewer software divides these 108 sources into 5 clusters. We find that Sustainability, Journal of Cleaner Production, Energy Policy, Ecological Economics, Science and Renewable Sustainable Energy Reviews are the main sources of SUS publications’ references. We provide the top 10 highly cited sources in Table 7. Link strength is the frequency with which two journals appear in one publication simultaneously. Total link strength in Table 8 is the sum of link strength. As we can see from Table 7, Sustainability itself is the most cited journal. Journal of Cleaner Production has been cited 4402 times by SUS publications. There are five journals whose titles include the word “energy”, which indicates that energy sustainability is an important and timely research topic.

4.1.3. Co-Citation Network of Cited Authors

Author co-citation analysis is another interesting topic. According to the analysis results of VOSviewer, 141,001 authors have been cited by SUS publications. We set the threshold at 100, and 54 authors are selected. The co-citation network of cited authors is illustrated in Figure 9. A node represents an author and a line is established when two authors are cited in one document. The size of the node denotes the frequencies for an author. The distance between two nodes reflects the degree of similarity to the authors’ field of study. The most influential authors can be observed in Figure 9. It should be noted that there are some publications that cite the data provided by institutes like the National Bureau of Statistics, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the European Commission. In these cases, the institutes that provide the data would be regarded as authors.

4.2. Keywords Analysis of SUS

Keywords analysis provides a general overview of research trends represented in a journal, as keywords can reflect the focus of the authors and their papers [64]. In this section, we present the keywords co-occurrence network with the help of VOSviewer software. The result of keywords citation bursts is obtained by using CiteSpace.

4.2.1. Keywords Occurrence Network

The keywords occurrence network reflects the study hotspots and research trends of a certain domain or journal [65]. According to the analysis of the results from VOSviewer, there are 26,534 keywords in all SUS publications, and 19,991 keywords appeared only once, accounting for a share of 75.34%; 2890 keywords appeared twice and the frequencies for 817 keywords are greater than 10. In addition, the frequency is more than 50 for 133 keywords and more than 100 for 57 keywords. We select the top 100 keywords for Figure 10. It is seen there that VOSviewer software divides these 100 keywords into 18 clusters. The biggest node is “sustainability”, which is the same as the subject of the journal. “Sustainability” appears 797 times altogether. The keywords “Management” (644), “China” (601), “model” (482) and “performance” (437) rank 2nd to 5th, respectively. The top 30 keywords with their frequencies are provided in Table 8.

4.2.2. Keywords Citation Bursts

Burst citation visualization can be used to detect whether a specific research topic is hot or not [66]. Generally speaking, notable increases in a research field are characterized by citation bursts in publications [66]. Keyword citation bursts can show the emerging topics of a certain field or journal [67]. In the past 10 years, there have been 27 different bursting keywords in SUS publications. Table 9 lists these 27 bursting keywords with their strength and time span. It shows that “community” has the strongest citation burst with a burst strength of 15.04 in the period from 2012 to 2015. Burst strength is an indicator that denotes the change in usage frequency, which can be derived by the burst detection algorithm provided by Kleinberg [19]. “Adaptation” (14.56) is the second strongest citation burst, followed by “knowledge” (13.99), “resilience” (10.78) and “food security” (10.78). In recent years, bursting citation keywords include “risk” (3.65), “environmental impact” (7.20) and “challenge” (7.54).

5. Further Discussion

This study used different bibliometric tools and methods to present the structure of SUS. Based on the results presented, some interesting phenomenon merit further discussion.
China is ahead of other countries in the number of publications. This can be attributed to the large increase of scientific research funds in recent decades. As is known, scientific research funds play a critical role in the progress and improvement of universities and colleges. In addition, as depicted in Table 4, developing countries have a less significant effect on SUS publications. Research funds can affect scientific outputs since SUS is an open-access journal and the authors need to pay the publication fee themselves. In addition, as indicated in Table 3 and Table 4, there are few highly cited papers in SUS from China or South Korea, which are two productive countries in the top 3. Scholars from these two countries should perhaps pay more attention to the quality of publications rather than the quantity.
The results of highly cited papers and journal co-citation networks demonstrate that environmental and energy studies constitute the main topics covered by the journal nowadays. But social and cultural sustainability are also topics that deserve attention. So, in the future, it may be useful to place a greater focus on cultural and social development.

6. Conclusions

A comprehensive bibliometric review of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018 was completed. The work covers four perspectives: publication and citation structures, influential countries and institutes, co-citation analysis, and keywords analysis. Several conclusions can be drawn from the results:
(1)
The number of publications in SUS has been increasing year by year, especially in the last few years. The citations of SUS publications in the three most recent years still needs time to catch up to earlier years. SUS itself, China and Chinese Academy of Science paid more attention than others to SUS publications. In terms of highly cited papers, the review papers exhibit better performance.
(2)
China, the USA and South Korea are the most active countries in SUS publications. Chinese and Korean institutes have a significant influential impact on SUS publications. International co-authorship plays a critical role in scientific research cooperation in sustainability.
(3)
Ref. [54] is the most highly cited reference. SUS itself is the most highly cited journal, and energy related journals make great contributions to the highly cited journals.
(4)
The keywords “sustainability”, “management” and “China” are the most frequently observed keywords in SUS publications. “Community” has the strongest citation burst. “Risk”, “environmental impact”, and “challenge” are the nearest citation bursts.
This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the SUS journal. It is hoped that the research results will contribute to the domains related to sustainable science and environmental science. Generally, the study of this paper is of guiding significance to identify the development direction of the journal. In future, we shall pay attention to the specific research directions related to sustainability.

Author Contributions

The research was designed and performed by M.T. and J.L. The data were collected and analyzed by M.T. and J.L. The paper was written by M.T. and J.L., and finally checked and revised by Z.W., Enrique Herrera-Viedma and Marc A. Rosen. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Acknowledgments

The work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 71771156 and 71501135), the Scientific Research Foundation for Excellent Young Scholars at Sichuan University (No. 2016SCU04A23), and the PetroChina Innovation Foundation (No. 2015D-5006-0607).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Figure 1. Distribution of publications in Sustainability (SUS) by year from 2009 to 2018 (2 March).
Figure 1. Distribution of publications in Sustainability (SUS) by year from 2009 to 2018 (2 March).
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Figure 2. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
Figure 2. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
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Figure 3. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2009 to 2013.
Figure 3. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2009 to 2013.
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Figure 4. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2014 to 2018.
Figure 4. Global distribution of SUS publications from 2014 to 2018.
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Figure 5. International country co-authorship network of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
Figure 5. International country co-authorship network of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
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Figure 6. Institute co-authorship network of SUS publications.
Figure 6. Institute co-authorship network of SUS publications.
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Figure 7. Reference co-citation network of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
Figure 7. Reference co-citation network of SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
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Figure 8. Journal co-citation network.
Figure 8. Journal co-citation network.
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Figure 9. Author co-citation network.
Figure 9. Author co-citation network.
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Figure 10. Keywords co-occurrence network.
Figure 10. Keywords co-occurrence network.
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Table 1. Annual citation structure of the publications in SUS.
Table 1. Annual citation structure of the publications in SUS.
Year≥100≥50≥20≥10≥1TPTCACH-Index
20090281856645939.2714
2010371844129138169012.2519
2011272958122128201215.7225
201203194916617514908.5119
201323138726529323367.9719
2014013414349353239017.3322
2015022512376684844415.2421
201600423980135728372.0912
20170004880239114440.607
2018000026572270.051
Total7251505493883645920,545 39
Percentage0.11%0.39%2.32%8.50%60.12%
TP: Total publications; TC: Total citations; AC: Average citations per paper.
Table 2. Sources that cite SUS publications.
Table 2. Sources that cite SUS publications.
RankJournalTPCountry/RegionTPInstituteTP
1Sustainability2496China2930Chinese Academy of Science493
2Journal of Cleaner Production658USA2457University of Chinese Academy of Science, CAS235
3Energies203Italy1286Institute of Geographic Sciences Natural Resources Research, CAS206
4Renewable Sustainable Energy Reviews188England978Wageningen University & Research167
5Science of Total Environment125Germany977University of California System150
6International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment115Australia838Sapienza University of Rome136
7Energy Policy112Spain745United States Department of Agriculture133
8Water112Canada633Beijing Normal University124
9Applied Energy109Netherlands625Helmholtz Association115
10Ecological Economics100Sweden509Arizona State University108
11Plos One97South Korea492National Institute of Agricultural Research104
12Energy and Buildings94France442National Centre for Scientific Research101
13Energy90Brazil385University of Perugia101
14Ecological Indicators87India343University of London95
15Journal of Environmental Management85Japan302State University System of Florida89
16Energy Procedia84Switzerland255North China Electric Power University88
17Resources Conservation and Recycling82Taiwan241Delft University of Technology86
18Waste Management75Romania239Tsinghua University85
19Land Use Policy72Belgium234Wuhan University81
20Environmental Science Technology69Malaysia234ETH Zurich79
21Ecology and Society64Finland233University of Naples Federico II79
22Construction and Building Materials59Denmark231Ghent University76
23International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health57South Africa224Pennsylvania Commonwealth System of Higher Education76
24Remote Sensing57Turkey211Zhejiang University75
25Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability56Iran209Lund University72
26Building and Environment55Norway206University of North Carolina72
27Environmental Science and Pollution Research54Poland203Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization71
28Environmental Science Policy51Portugal202Utrecht University71
29Habitat International47Austria197Hong Kong Polytechnic University70
30Isprs International Journal of Geo-Information46Mexico154Shanghai Jiao Tong University70
TP: Total Publications.
Table 3. Top 30 highly cited papers in SUS.
Table 3. Top 30 highly cited papers in SUS.
TitleAuthor(s)YearCitationsAC
1Towards life-cycle sustainability assessment [21]Finkbeiner, M.; Schau, E.M.; Lehmann, A.; Traverso, M.201016218.00
2Water footprinting: how to address water use in life-cycle assessment? [23]Berger, M.; Finkbeiner, M.201012113.44
3Peak phosphorus: clarifying the key issues of a vigorous debate about long-term phosphorus security [24]Cordell, D.; White, S.201111814.75
4Adapt or perish: a review of planning approaches for adaptation under deep uncertainty [25]Walker, W.E.; Haasnoot, M.; Kwakkel, J.H.201310517.50
5Black carbon’s properties and role in the environment: a comprehensive review [26]Shrestha, G.; Traina, S.J.; Swanston, C.W.201010211.33
6The bioeconomy in Europe: an overview [27]McCormick, K.; Kautto, N.201310116.83
7Agricultural biodiversity is essential for a sustainable improvement in food and nutrition security [28]Frison, E.A.; Cherfas, J.; Hodgkin, T.201110112.63
8Order from chaos: a preliminary protocol for determining the EROI of fuels [29]Murphy, D.J.; Hall, C.A.S.; Dale, N.; Cleveland, C.20119511.88
9Advancing integrated systems modelling framework for life cycle sustainability assessment [30]Halog, A.; Manik, Y.20119111.38
10Bioremediation of heavy metals from soil and aquatic environment: an overview of principles and criteria of fundamental processes [22]Dixit, R.; Wasiullah; Malaviya, D.; Pandiyan, K.; Singh, U.B.; Sahu, A.; Shukla, R.; Singh, B.P.; Rai, J.P.; Sharma, P.K.; Lade, H.; Paul, D.20158120.25
11Life-cycle assessment and the environmental impact of buildings: a review [31]Khasreen, M.M.; Banfill, P.F.G.; Menzies, G.F.2009757.50
12Use of incineration MSW ash: a review [32]Lam, C.H.K.; Ip, A.W.M.; Barford, J.P.; McKay, G.2010748.22
13Recycled concrete as aggregate for structural concrete production [33]Malesev, M.; Radonjanin, V.; Marinkovic, S.2010748.22
14Visualizing consolidation in the global seed industry: 1996-2008 [34]Howard, P.H.2009727.20
15Improving nitrogen use efficiency in crops for sustainable agriculture [35]Hirel, B.; Tetu, T; Lea, P.L.; Dubois, F.2011718.88
16Global sustainability accounting-Developing EXIOBASE for multi-regional footprint analysis [36]Wood, R.; Stadler, K.; Bulavskaya, T.; Lutter, S.; Giljum, S.; de Koning, A.; Kuenen, J.; Schuetz, H.; Acosta-Fernandez, J.; Usubiaga, A.; Simas, M.; Ivanova, O.; Weinzettel, J.; Schmidt, J.H.; Merciai, S.; Tukker, A.20156917.25
17General resilience to cope with extreme events [37]Carpenter, S.R.; Arrow, K.J.; Barrett, S.; Biggs, R.; Brock, W.A.; Crepin, A.S.; Engstrom, G.; Folke, C.; Hughes, T.P.; Kautsky, N.; Li, C.Z.; McCarney, G.; Meng, K.; Maler, K.G.; Polasky, S.; Scheffer, M; Shogren, J.; Sterner, T.; Vincent, J.R.; Walker, B.; Xepapadeas, A.; de Zeeuw, A.2012699.86
18Identifying social impacts in product supply chains: overview and application of the social hotspot database [38]Benoit-Norris, C.; Cavan, D.A.; Norris, G.2012689.71
19Sustainable development: a bird’s eye view [39]Waas, T.; Huge, J.; Verbruggen, A.; Wright, T.2011688.50
20Strategies and policies for the bioeconomy and bio-based economy: an analysis of official national approaches [40]Staffas, L.; Gustavsson, M.; McCormick, K.20136711.77
21A new long term assessment of energy return on investment (EROI) for US oil and gas discovery and production [41]Guilford, M.C.; Hall, C.A.S.; O’Connor, P.; Cleveland, C.J.2011637.88
22Fly-in/fly-out: Implications for community sustainability [42]Storey, K.2010626.89
23Agriculture and eutrophication: where do we go from here? [43]Withers, P.J.A.; Neal, C.; Jarvie, H.P.; Doody, D.G.20145410.80
24Sustainable manufacturing and design: concepts, practices and needs [44]Rosen, M.A.; Kishawy, H.A.2012547.71
25Energy recovery from wastewater treatment plants in the United States: a case study of the energy-water nexus [45]Stillwell, A.S.; Hoppock, D.C.; Webber, M.E.2010515.67
26Remote-sensing time series to evaluate direct land use change of recent expanded sugarcane crop in Brazil [46]Adami, M.; Rudorff, B.F.T.; Freitas, R.M.; Aguiar, D.A.; Sugawara, L.M.; Mello, M.P.2012497.00
27Defining terms for integrated (multi-inter-trans-disciplinary) sustainability research [47]Stock, P.; Burton, R.J.F.2011496.13
28Consumer-related food waste: causes and potential for action [48]Aschemann-Witzel, J.; de Hooge, I.; Amani, P.; Bech-Larsen, T.; Oostindjer, M.20154711.75
29Restoring soil quality to mitigate soil degradation [49]Lal, R.20154711.75
30A review of the past and current state of EROI data [50]Gupta, A.K.; Hall, C.A.S.2011475.88
AC: Average citations per year.
Table 4. The 30 most productive countries/regions of SUS publications.
Table 4. The 30 most productive countries/regions of SUS publications.
RankCountry/RegionTotal2009–20132013–2018
TPTCACH≥100≥50≥20TPTCTPTC
1China189340532.142001111720718763806
2USA97442664.3827182824525987291668
3South Korea71410291.4411013197131020
4Italy56423864.23191118475175171869
5Germany34716684.8118231852748295920
6Spain3347242.171200316141318583
7England2749913.6215021238395236596
8Canada24711954.8416031283807164308
9Australia24311474.7217121047709196438
10Netherlands23913115.4916131336522203789
11Taiwan2374982.10900237234492
12Japan2004152.08900131144169271
13Sweden19010125.331513845585145427
14Romania1383042.2080 01422134282
15Switzerland1023713.64110032611676255
16Belgium924564.96120131316679290
17Norway914354.7890151815073285
18South Africa832583.11900365477204
19Mexico811601.98700112776983
20Brazil742293.097003131426187
21France744065.49110161729067116
22Austria722954.1090141113961156
23Portugal722213.07800289064131
24Finland703284.69110041618354145
25Poland671331.9960011266131
26Turkey671662.48700121565151
27Greece632123.377011101235389
28Denmark613455.668013115650289
29Malaysia601943.23700233257162
30Iran511222.3950002549117
TP: Total publications; TC: Total citations.
Table 5. Top 30 most productive institutes in SUS.
Table 5. Top 30 most productive institutes in SUS.
RankInstituteCountry/RegionTPTCACH≥100≥50≥20ARWUQS
1Chinese Academy of SciencesChina3749572.5613005--
2Beijing Normal UniversityChina933023.2510001201–300256
3North China Electric Power UniversityChina812392.959002--
4Wuhan UniversityChina751732.317001201–300282
5Seoul National UniversitySouth Korea74680.924000101–15036
6Wageningen University and ResearchNetherlands643024.728012--
7Yonsei UniversitySouth Korea64731.145000201–300106
8Korea UniversitySouth Korea61791.305000201–30090
9Inha UniversitySouth Korea571442.537001-601–650
10Hanyang UniversitySouth Korea55811.474000201–300155
11Sapienza University of RomeItaly543716.8712001151–200215
12Tsinghua UniversityChina521342.5870012548
13University of California SystemUSA521422.737001--
14State University System of FloridaUSA491182.415001--
15China University of GeosciencesChina481202.506001301–400-
16Nanjing UniversityChina46661.435000201–300114
17South-east UniversityChina46310.672000201–300501–550
18Zhejiang UniversityChina461012.206001101–15087
19Chongqing UniversityChina44982.235001-801–1000
20Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands422185.198111151–20054
21Jiangxi University of Finance and EconomicsChina421684.008002--
22United States Department of AgricultureUSA422385.6710003--
23The University of TokyoJapan42872.0760012428
24Bucharest Academy of Economic StudiesRomania41832.025000--
25University of North CarolinaUSA41952.3250003380
26University of PerugiaItaly412476.029003--
27Sungkyunkwan UniversitySouth Korea37812.195000201–300108
28University of Ontario Institute of TechnologyCanada372045.518011--
29Sichuan UniversityChina36611.695000151–200551–600
30China University of Mining and TechnologyChina36491.364000--
TP: Total publications; TC: Total citations; AC: Average citations per year; H: H-index; ARWU: Academic Ranking of World Universities; QS: Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings.
Table 6. Most cited references by SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
Table 6. Most cited references by SUS publications from 2009 to 2018.
RAuthorsTitleYearSourceCitationsWoSC
1Fornell, C.; Larcker, D.F.Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error [54]1981Journal of Marketing Research10318,535
2Charnes, A.; Cooper, W.W.; Rhodes, E.Measuring efficiency of decision-making units [55]1978European Journal of Operational Research798784
3Costanza, R.; d’Arge, R.; de Groot, R.; Farber, S.; Grasso, M.; Hannon, B.; Limburg, K.; Naeem, S.; ONeill, R.V.; Paruelo, J.; Raskin, R.G.; Sutton, P.; vandenBelt, M.The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital [56]1997Nature776030
4Ajzen, I.The theory of planned behavior [57]1991Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes7318,376
5Rockstrom, J.; Steffen, W.; Noone, K.; Persson, A.; Chapin, F.S.; Lambin, E.F.; Lenton, T.M.; Scheffer, M.; Folke, C.; Schellnhuber, H.J.; Nykvist, B.; de Wit, C.A.; Hughes, T.; van der Leeuw, S.; Rodhe, H.; Sorlin, S.; Snyder, P.K.; Costanza, R.; Svedin, U.; Falkenmark, M.; Karlberg, L.; Corell, R.W.; Fabry, V.J.; Hansen, J.; Walker, B.; Liverman, D.; Richardson, K.; Crutzen, P.; Foley, J.A.A safe operating space for humanity [58]2009Nature592704
6Ostrom, E.A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems [59]2009Science501569
7Seuring, S.; Mueller, M.From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply-chain management [60]2008Journal of Cleaner Production481190
8Foley, J.A.; DeFries, R.; Asner, G.P.; Barford, C.; Bonan, G.; Carpenter, S.R.; Chapin, F.S.; Coe, M.T.; Daily, G.C.; Gibbs, H.K.; Helkowski, J.H.; Holloway, T.; Howard, E.A.; Kucharik, C.J.; Monfreda, C.; Patz, J.A.; Prentice, I.C.; Ramankutty, N.; Snyder, P.K.Global consequences of land use [61]2005Science453746
9Stem, P.C.Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior [62]2000Journal of Social Issues431725
10Porter, M.E.; Vanderlinde, C.Toward a new conception of the environment-competitiveness relationship [63] 1980Journal of Economic Perspectives421915
R: Rank; WoSC: Web of Sciences Citation.
Table 7. Top 10 highly cited sources by SUS publications.
Table 7. Top 10 highly cited sources by SUS publications.
RankSourceCitationsTotal Link Strength
1Sustainability567591,220
2Journal of Cleaner Production440296,461
3Energy Policy378374,889
4Ecological Economics312064,781
5Renewable Sustainable Energy Reviews242060,042
6Science185335,592
7Landscape and Urban Planning177834,002
8Energy and Buildings166827,576
9Energy149434,719
10Applied Energy142741,253
Table 8. Top 30 keywords of SUS publications.
Table 8. Top 30 keywords of SUS publications.
RankKeywordFrequencyRankKeywordFrequency
1sustainability79716cities199
2management64417perspective193
3China60118industry188
4model48219innovation186
5performance43720growth186
6systems35421ecosystem services182
7impact33522impacts179
8sustainable development30423environment170
9climate-change29324efficiency168
10policy29025design167
11energy27826behaviour156
12framework26727urbanization153
13system22128conservation153
14consumption20429indicators152
15governance20230agriculture152
Table 9. Top 27 keywords with the strongest citation bursts.
Table 9. Top 27 keywords with the strongest citation bursts.
KeywordStrengthBeginningEnd2009–2018
depletion2.7120092011▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
education8.3820092013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
fuel3.2420092012▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
United States3.7020092012▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
energy return on investment3.3920092011▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
India5.7620092014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
poverty3.2420092012▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
resilience10.7820092013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
net energy5.4220092011▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
life cycle assessment4.0520092012▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
biofuel9.9620092014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
EROI (energy return on investment)10.1820092011▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
sustainability7.1120092011▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
food security10.7820092013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
participation6.1420122013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
adaptation14.5620122014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
knowledge13.9920122014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
health4.9520122013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
vulnerability7.5620122014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
community15.0420122015▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
water7.0320122014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
future8.3820122013▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
uncertainty9.1220132014▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
risk3.6520142015▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
environmental impact7.2020152016▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
challenge7.5420152016▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂▂
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