Tracking the diffusion of industrial symbiosis scholarship using bibliometrics: Comparing across Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar

Marian R. Chertow, Koichi S. Kanaoka, Jooyoung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Previous bibliometric analyses of industrial symbiosis (IS) research have focused on a limited body of literature owing to the scope of keyword searches or limitations of library databases. This study seeks to apply bibliometrics to explore broader, epistemological questions, particularly about the structure and geospatial development of IS as a sub-field of industrial ecology. We also evaluate the benefits of using Google Scholar, in addition to the conventional databases Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus, for better understanding academic domains. By using WoS and Scopus, 805 articles on IS that met our criteria were identified, published in 212 journals from 1995 through 2018. On average, the cumulative number of relevant articles grew at an exponential rate of 18% per year—more than double the estimated growth of global scientific output. We observed the largest increases in articles that: (1) model the material and energy flows in IS clusters; (2) propose strategies and ideas for implementing symbiosis; and (3) evaluate the performance of IS networks. By the end of 2018, 54 countries were featured in IS articles retrieved from WoS and Scopus, with China as the single most studied country. The analysis of Google Scholar suggested that it can capture more IS articles than the conventional databases owing to its unique characteristic of searching the entire text of documents rather than solely their metadata as with WoS and Scopus. Google Scholar revealed IS discourse from additional countries and disciplines previously omitted, enabling a more acute view of its patterns of diffusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-931
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by Yale University.


  • Google Scholar
  • bibliometrics
  • eco-industrial
  • industrial ecology
  • industrial ecosystem
  • industrial symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences


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