Bibliometric analysis of fracking scientific literature


This study uses bibliometric methods to analyze the scientific literature of fracking. Web of Science database, including the Science Citation Index, Sciences Citation Index and Conference Proceedings Citation Index—Science were used to collect the data. The analysis done in the paper looks at the annual distribution of publications, countries, institutes, authors, journals and categories. Furthermore, key topics and highly-cited papers were analyzed. The results show that fracking as a new research term appears in the Web of Science records from 1953 and its presence in the Web of Science has been growing ever since, becoming a hot topic recently. The countries with most of the contributions have been USA, China and Canada, whereas the Russian Academy of Sciences, University of Oklahoma and Tohoku University were the three institutions with most publications in fracking research. The publications have been concentrated in several journals, led by the Journal of Petroleum Technology, Heфmянoe Xoзяйcmвo and International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, and categorized mainly in geosciences multidisciplinary, Engineering Petroleum and Energy Fuels. The study has identified that terms of fracking can be divided into three main clusters, related to “drilling methods”, “exploitation/extraction process” and the “geoscience aspects”. The highly cited papers in the period 1953–2013 were collected and analyzed, in order to show the papers with highest impact in fracking area.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11


  1. 1.

    Fracking caused hundreds of complaints about contaminated water in four states:

  2. 2.

    Dangers of fracking:

  3. 3.

    Half of the UK 'suitable for fracking', report says:


  1. Davies, R., et al. (2013). Induced seismicity and hydraulic fracturing for the recovery of hydrocarbons. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 45, 171–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. de Rijke, K. (2013) Hydraulically fractured: Unconventional gas and anthropology. Anthropology Today, 29(2), 13–17 (Respond to this article at

  3. ENERGY-TRANS Project (NO.17016): The Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS (future infrastructures for meeting energy demands. Towards sustainability and social compatibility—Part “Risk Maps”) (cited 2014; Available from:

  4. Garfield, E. (1970). Citation indexing for studying science. Nature, 227(5259), 669–671.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Garfield, E. (2009). From the science of science to Scientometrics visualizing the history of science with HistCite software. Journal of Informetrics, 3(3), 173–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ho, Y. S. (2012) Comments on “a bibliometric study of earthquake research: 1900–2010”. Scientometrics, 96, 1–3.

  7. Howarth, R. W., Santoro, R., & Ingraffea, A. (2011). Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. Climatic Change, 106(4), 679–690.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. IRGC. (2013). Risk governance guidelines for unconventional gas development. Lausanne, Switzerland: International Risk Governance Council.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Jovanovic, A., Klimek, P., & Zarea, M. (2012) Monitoring public perception of risks related to unconventional exploitation of gas. In “Think Piece” for the IRGC workshop on “Risk governance guidelines for unconventional gas development”. International Risk Governance Council.

  10. Jovanović, A., & Baloš, D. (2013). iNTeg-Risk project: Concept and first results. Journal of Risk Research, 16(3–4), 275–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Jovanović, A., & Renn, O. (2013). Search for the ‘European way’of taming the risks of new technologies: The EU research project iNTeg-Risk. Journal of Risk Research, 16(3–4), 271–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kerr, R. A. (2010). Natural gas from shale bursts onto the scene. Science, 328(5986), 1624–1626.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Osborn, S. G., et al. (2011). Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(20), 8172–8176.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ren, J.-L., et al. (2013). An informetric profile of water resources management literatures. Water Resources Management, 27(13), 4679–4696.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Rivard, C., et al. (2014). An overview of Canadian shale gas production and environmental concerns. International Journal of Coal Geology,. doi:10.1016/j.coal.2013.12.004.

    Google Scholar 

  16. US-Energy-Information-Administration. (2013). Annual energy outlook 2013 with projections to 2040.

  17. Van Eck, N. J., & Waltman, L. (2010). Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics, 84(2), 523–538.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Aleksandar Jovanovic.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, J., Jovanovic, A., Klimek, P. et al. Bibliometric analysis of fracking scientific literature. Scientometrics 105, 1273–1284 (2015).

Download citation


  • Fracking
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Shale gas
  • Bibliometric
  • Knowledge mapping