Resilience thinking is a rising topic in environmental sciences and sustainability discourse. In this paper, a bibliometric method is used to analyse the trends in resilience research in the contexts of ecological, economic, social, and integrated socio-ecological systems. Based on 919 cited publications in English which appeared between 1973 and 2011, the analysis covers the following issues: general statistical description, influential journal outlets and top cited articles, geographic distribution of resilience publications and covered case studies, national importance of resilience researchers and leading research organisations by country. The findings show that resilience thinking continues to dominate environmental sciences and has experienced a dramatic increase since its introduction in 1973. More recently, new interest has emerged for broadening the scope and applying the concept to socio-economic systems and sustainability science. The paper also shows that resilience research overall is dominated by USA, Australia, UK and Sweden, and makes the case for the need to expand this work further in the urgent need for practically oriented solutions that would help arrest further ecological deterioration.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adger, W. N. (2000). Social and ecological resilience: Are they related? Progress in Human Geography, 24(3), 347–364.
Adger, N. W., Hughes, T. P., Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., & Rockström, J. (2005). Social-ecological resilience to coastal disasters. Science, 309, 1036–1039.
Aguillo, I. F. (2012). Is Google Scholar useful for bibliometrics? A webometric analysis. Scientometrics, 91, 343–351.
Bjurström, A., & Polk, M. (2011). Climate change and interdisciplinarity: A co-citation analysis of IPCC Third Assessment Report. Scientometrics, 87, 525–550.
Burns, M., & Weaver, A. (Eds.). (2008). Exploring sustainability science: A Southern African perspective. Stellenbosch: Sun Press.
Cole, J. R., & Cole, S. (1972). The Ortega hypothesis. Science, 178, 368–375. Retrieved Dec 18 2012. Online access: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/178/4059/368.full.pdf.
Elsevier (2012). SciVerse open to accelerate science: About Scopus. Retrieved Dec 17 2012. Online access: http://www.info.sciverse.com/scopus/about.
Falagas, M. E., Pitsouni, E. I., Malietzis, G. A., & Pappas, G. (2007). Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: Strengths and weaknesses. The FASEB Journal, 22(2), 338–342. doi:10.1096/fj.07-9492LSF.
Folke, C. (2003). Freshwater for resilience: A shift in thinking. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 358, 2027–2036. Online access: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss4/art20/.
Folke, C. (2006). Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses. Global Environmental Change, 16, 253–267.
Folke, C., Carpenter, S., Elmqvist, T., Gunderson, L., Holling, C. S., & Walker, B. (2002). Resilience and sustainable development: Building adaptive capacity in a world of transformations. Ambio, 31(5), 437–440.
Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., Walker, B. H., Scheffer, M., Chapin, T., & Rockström, J. (2010). Resilience thinking: Integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecology and Society, 15(4), 20.
Google Scholar (n.d.). Stand on the shoulders of giants. Retrieved Dec 17 2012. Online access: http://scholar.google.com.au/intl/en/scholar/about.html.
Harzing, A.-W. (2012). Document categories in the ISI Web of Knowledge: Misunderstanding the social sciences?. Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-012-0738-1.
Holling, C. S. (1973). Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology Systematics, 4, 1–23.
Janssen, M. A., Schoon, M. L., Ke, W., & Börner, K. (2006). Scholarly networks on resilience, vulnerability and adaptation within the human dimensions of global environmental change. Global Environmental Change, 16, 240–252.
Jappe, A. (2007). Explaining international collaboration in global environmental change research. Scientometrics, 71(3), 367–390.
Ludwig, D., Mangel, M., & Haddad, B. (2001). Ecology, conservation and public policy. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 32, 481–517.
MacRoberts, M. H., & MacRoberts, B. R. (1996). Problems of citation analysis. Scientometrics, 36(3), 435–444.
Marinova, D., & McGrath, N. (2005). Transdisciplinarity in teaching and learning sustainability. In G. Banse, I. Hronszky, & G. Nelson (Eds.), Rationality in an uncertain world (pp. 275–285). Berlin: Edition Sigma.
McMichael, A. J., Butler, C. D., & Folke, C. (2003). New visions for addressing sustainability. Science, 302, 1919–1920.
Perrings, C. (1998). Resilience in the dynamics of economy-environment systems. Environmental & Resource Economics, 11(3), 503–520.
Quental, N., & Lourenço, J. M. (2012). References, authors, journals and scientific disciplines underlying the sustainable development literature: A citation analysis. Scientometrics, 90, 361–381.
Resilience Alliance (2002). Resilience. Retrieved Dec 17 2912. Online access: http://www.resalliance.org/index.php/resilience.
Rose, A. (2007). Economic resilience to natural and man-made disasters: Multidisciplinary origins and contextual dimensions. Environmental Hazards, 7(4), 383–398.
Small, H. (2004). Why authors think their papers are highly cited. Scientometrics, 60(3), 305–316.
Thompson Reuters (2012) Web of knowledge. Retrieved Dec 17 2012. Online access: http://wokinfo.com/.
Troell, M., Pihl, L., Rönnbäck, P., Wennhage, H., Söderqvist, T., & Kautsky, N. (2005). Regime shifts and ecosystem services in Swedish coastal soft bottom habitats: When resilience is undesirable. Ecology and Society, 10(1), 30. Online access: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol10/iss1/art30/.
Veugelers, R. (2010). Towards a multipolar science world: Trends and impact. Scientometrics, 82(2), 439–456.
Walker, B., Holling, C. S., Carpenter, S. R., & Kinzig, A. (2004). Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 9(2), 5. Online access: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art5/.
Walker, B., Pearson, L., Harris, M., Maler, K., Li, C., Biggs, R., & Baynes, T. (2010). Incorporating resilience in the assessment of inclusive wealth: An example from South East Australia. Environmental and Resource Economics, 45, 183–202.
Yang, K., & Meho, L. I. (2006). Citation analysis: A comparison of Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science. In 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST), Austin, USA. Retrieved Dec 18 2012. Online access: http://eprints.rclis.org/bitstream/10760/8605/1/Yang_citation.pdf.
We would like to thank Dr. Roman Trubka and Cole Hendrigan for their assistance with GIS mapping and helpful suggestions. The second author also acknowledges the financial assistance by the Australian Research Council. We are also thankful to the Journal’s Editor and referees for helpful and constructive comments which improved the quality of the paper.
About this article
Cite this article
Xu, L., Marinova, D. Resilience thinking: a bibliometric analysis of socio-ecological research. Scientometrics 96, 911–927 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-013-0957-0
- Socio-ecological systems