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Key trends in water resources research uncovered

March 22, 2011
A new report reveals the increasingly international and strategic nature of water resources research.

The report "Confronting the Global Water Crisis through Research -- 2010," carried out by Elsevier and released March 22, reveals the increasingly international and strategic nature of water resources research. Examining major trends in water research at the international, national and institutional levels, the report highlights the escalation in the article output of countries conducting water resources research and the expansion of such research into strategic disciplines. Elsevier used Scopus data and one of the solutions from its performance and planning suite, SciVal Spotlight, to develop a detailed analysis of country and institutional strengths in the field.

"Most countries realize the importance of multidisciplinary research in water research as they face climate change and population growth," said Dr. Christiane Barranguet, Executive Publisher of Elsevier Aquatic Sciences. "This is reflected by the nearly 30% annual growth rate in global water resources research from 2000 to 2009, as countries increasingly look to science to find answers to pressing questions regarding local and global water resources demands."

Key findings from the report include:

  • The Emergence of China

    While the U.S. leads in producing water resources research and yields the widest variety of such research, China is quickly emerging as a key player in the field. From 2003 to 2010, the number of articles published on water resources research from institutions in China increased by 28% annually while the number of articles published by U.S. institutions increased at a rate of 11%. If a straight-line growth trend is assumed, China will surpass the U.S. in the number of articles published on water resources research in 2014.

  • International Growth

    Given the strengths of its research and grant-making institutions, the U.S. will likely maintain a leading role in water resources research. However, the international focus on water resources suggests that the U.S. will increasingly share the research stage with other countries. The data indicates a rapid growth of water resources research throughout the world, including some countries where until recently, there was very little of such research. Faced with economic expansion, rising populations and growing industrialization, countries such as Iran, India, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico have experienced severe water problems and have subsequently seen dynamic increases in water research. For example, Iran produced only 12 papers on water resources between 1970 and 2000, but produced more than 60 papers each year from 2005 to 2008.

  • Multidisciplinary Growth

    By extensively mapping research articles by discipline, data from SciVal Spotlight reflects the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of water resources research. While environmental sciences, earth sciences, engineering and biological sciences continue to dominate the field, disciplines such as economics, math, computer science, chemistry and biochemistry are rapidly expanding into water research. Economics in particular, has seen significant growth. From 2004 to 2008, the annual growth rate in economics articles within water resources research was 100%. The rise of these disciplines highlights the changing interests of governments and grant-making institutions as they work to solve a variety of problems associated with water resources.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Elsevier. "Key trends in water resources research uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <>.
Elsevier. (2011, March 22). Key trends in water resources research uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 25, 2016 from
Elsevier. "Key trends in water resources research uncovered." ScienceDaily. (accessed August 25, 2016).