News Release

Report uncovers key trends in water resources research

Global water research grows nearly 30 percent annually during past decade

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Amsterdam, March 22nd, 2011 – The report "Confronting the Global Water Crisis through Research – 2010", carried out by Elsevier and released today, 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.


To receive a copy of the report, please contact Sandra Plasse at +1 212-752-8338 or

Survey Methodology

The analysis was split in to two phases: phase I looked at the water resources literature landscape and phase II, which took a look at a number of well performing nations and one of their institutions that is a main contributor to the subject field.

Phase I - To construct the initial data pool, the keywords "water resources*" were used to search titles, abstracts, and keywords of original articles, reviews, and proceedings papers published in the SciVerse Scopus™ database ( from Elsevier between January 1, 2004 and Dec 31, 2008. The resulting pool of research papers related to water resources was then analyzed. The data pool was used to generate list of subject categories, institutions, and nations ranked in three ways: according to total number of papers, total cites, and total cites/paper.

Phase II - SciVal® Spotlight ( was used to gain deeper insights into the core strengths of these top nations and the institutions that are contributing to these national strengths.

About the Elsevier SciVal® Suite

Elsevier's SciVal suite ( of services supports academic and government leadership in evaluating, establishing and executing research strategies that optimize the performance of existing assets and maximize investments to enhance near and long-term productivity. SciVal tools leverage Scopus® data, Elsevier's trusted source of bibliometric data, to offer innovative yet authoritative solutions. Current suite offerings include: SciVal Spotlight™, a strategic tool that generates unique institutional and country maps of existing and emerging strengths based on an interdisciplinary perspective of current performance; SciVal Funding™, an online solution that provides targeted recommendations on grants to pursue based on pre-populated research profiles and historical awards; SciVal Experts, a semantic technology-based application that enables researchers to identify and locate sources of expertise at an individual or departmental level within and across institutions.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include SciVerse ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Nursing Consult, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai's Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

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