Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 2520–2534 | Cite as

Bibliometric analysis of insights into soil remediation

  • Guozhu Mao
  • Tongtong Shi
  • Shu Zhang
  • John Crittenden
  • Siyi Guo
  • Huibin Du
Soils, Sec 3 • Remediation and Management of Contaminated or Degraded Lands • Research Article



Environmental pollution is a great concern worldwide. The soil environment, an important compartment for global elemental cycling, has received tremendous research focuses over the past 20 years. This study investigated the current research activities in the field of contaminated soil remediation and determined the trend of research topics.

Materials and methods

We performed a quantitative bibliometric analysis based on journal articles published within the past 20 years using the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index databases on the Web of Science. To further analyze the publication performance and identify the major soil contamination topics, we employed social network analysis and S-curve predictions.

Results and discussion

Chemosphere and Journal of Hazardous Materials were the most productive journals with a total of 433 and 431 articles from 1996 to 2015 on contaminated soil remediation, respectively. China had the largest amount of publications (n = 1518) and the Chinese Academy of Science was the most prominent institution (n = 475). Keyword analysis further identified the most studied soil pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, crude oil, and heavy metals, in the top five productive countries, including China, USA, Spain, India, and Canada. Moreover, soil remediation technologies, including microbial remediation, phytoremediation, and electrokinetic remediation, were the major technologies receiving increasing interest in the results of the prediction analysis.


Our results identified the hotspots and developing trends of contaminated soil remediation studies and provide guidance for future research directions. However, transitions from the laboratory to field implementations are still required. Bibliometric analysis, combined with patent analysis, social network analysis, and S-curve prediction, is a useful tool to provide a quantitative measurement of research activities in the past and present, enabling a prediction on the future study of soil remediation.


Collaborative relationships Journal articles Patent analysis SNA 



We would like to thank Dr. Hui Ding for his advice on the soil remediation technologies. Authors are grateful to Dr. Nancy Merino for her assistance of this work.

Funding information

This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51641407, 71673198).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Efficient Utilization of Low and Medium Grade Energy, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Global Research Center for Environment and Energy based on Nanomaterials ScienceNational Institute for Materials ScienceTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.College of Management and EconomicsTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  6. 6.Center for Energy & Environmental Policy ResearchInstitute of Policy and Management, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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