Research trends and areas of focus on water rights: a bibliometric analysis 1971-2020

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 Oct;29(50):75119-75133. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-22578-9. Epub 2022 Sep 15.


This study investigated the research trends, key areas, and directions of water rights (WRs) using bibliometric data based on the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-E) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). This paper presents a comprehensive review of annual output, research fields, cooperative networks, published journals, and hot spot evolution from 1971 to 2020. The results show that the number of published papers on WRs has an exponential upward trend. This research mainly focuses on water resources, environmental sciences, environmental studies, law, agronomy, and political science. Rutgerd Boelens and Barbara Van Koppen are authors of the most widely published and influential factors in the field. Leo Heller, Priscila Neves-Silva, and Jeroen Vos have been the most recently active authors. University of New Mexico and the United States Department of Agriculture are the organizations with the most publications and total citations, respectively. The USA, China, Australia, the UK, The Netherlands, and Spain are among the most productive countries for WR research. Keyword analysis showed that the study of WRs has gone through three stages: the exploration of laws and regulations, comprehensive management, and technology development and application. Literature citation cluster analysis shows that a highly central article provides a strong link between internal research on WRs. Western USA, trading WRs, and constitutional reform were hot spots before 2010, while economic anthropology, combined effect, public attitude, and integrated assessment modeling have become popular recently. The study results can help experts understand the research progress in WRs.

Keywords: Bibliometric analysis; CiteSpace; Thomson data analyzer (TDA); VOSviewer; WRs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • China
  • Efficiency
  • Publications
  • United States
  • Water*


  • Water