100 Most Cited Articles in Urban Green and Open Spaces: A Bibliometric AnalysisMehdi Rakhshandehroo1, Mohd Johari Mohd Yusof 1*, Nader Ale Ebrahim2, Ali Sharghi3, Roozbeh Arabi1
1faculty Of Design And Architecture, University Putra Malaysia, Malaysia
2Centre Of Research Services, Institute Of Research Management And Monitoring (Ippp), University Of Malaya, Malaysia
3Faculty Of Architecture And Urban Planning, Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University (Srttu), Teheran, Iran.
Correspondence Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers have contributed significantly to the
development of the subject of urban green and open spaces (UGOS) in both
practical and fundamental aspects. As the number of citations indicates
a paper and author’s competency, the online web of science (ISI) was
browsed to identify the 100 most cited papers in the field of UGOS from
1980 to 2013. Papers were analyzed for authorship, journal sources,
publishers, institutions, countries, year of publication, categories,
and author keywords. The total number of citations was compared to the
average number of citations per year. From 1105 UGOS papers returned,
the maximum number of citations was 212. The top 100 most cited were
published from 1988 to 2011, with the majority in 2007. A remarkable
distinction was found in the comparison of total citations and average
citations per year. As total linear trend indicates a significant
growth in influential articles, urban green and open spaces are a
developing subject in landscape and urban planning. This study gives an
insight into the readership of UGOS by highlighting key papers.
open space; green space; citations; landscape; urban planning; bibliometric
|Copy the following to cite this article:
Rakhshandehroo M, Yusof M. J. M, Ebrahim N. A, Sharghi A, Arabi R.
100 Most Cited Articles in Urban Green and Open Spaces: A Bibliometric
Analysis. Curr World Environ 2015;10(2).
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Rakhshandehroo M, Yusof M. J. M, Ebrahim N. A, Sharghi A, Arabi R.
100 Most Cited Articles in Urban Green and Open Spaces: A Bibliometric
Analysis. Curr World Environ 2015;10(2). Available from: http://www.cwejournal.org/?p=12548
In the context of urban studies, a great number of terms and
definitions refer to “urban green and open space” (UGOS) such as open
space, green space, public space, and urban greenery. Parks and public
gardens, as the most well-known UGOS, are associated with amenity green
spaces, having a high quality of landscape design and maintenance. On
the other hand, experimental green spaces are often referred to as green
feel, which users consciously or unconsciously experience within a
certain area. Therefore, the constitution of UGOS varies among different
groups of people, for example, between citizens and researchers, where
human influences convert natural areas into urban areas, as UGOS is a
reflection of human demand for greenery. They can vary from a simple
playing field to natural landscape or highly maintained environment and
are mostly provided with open access to public, although they may be
For the purpose of this study UGOS contains all types of public or
private open spaces in urban areas which are completely or mostly
covered with vegetation. Water bodies such as rivers, streams and lakes
are included but not all green areas outside urban borders. Furthermore,
these UGOS play a key role to improve the environment through landscape
enhancement, better air quality, and noise reduction, which result in
the enhancement of well being and quality of citizens’ life (1); (2).
As a type of biblometric method, citation indices trace the
references in a published paper (3). It exhibits how many times a
specific article has been cited in other articles (4). The avenues to
evaluate citation tracking have been significantly raised in the past
years (3, 5). The frequency of citation of the publication is assumed to
display the impact of the publication, but not essentially their
quality (6). Evidently, citation count alone is not sufficient to
provide a complete criteria for judging scientific paper quality, in
particular when there exist numerous mechanisms to boost the citation of
a paper (7, 8).It should be added that rather than alternative metrics,
citations remain a main indicator of the importance of a research
In this study, top-cited articles (12), classic papers (13), top
publications (14) or most frequently cited articles (15) in different
categories related to UGOS have been studied (16). For a long time now,
bibliometric studies have been widely applied to evaluate research
papers by measuring scientific preferences (for example, Saracevi &
Perk, 1973) and different aspects have been studied such as: annual
publication outputs, authors, language, categories, journals,
publishers, contributing institutes, and countries, and keywords (17).
This study not only evaluates the publication characteristics: language,
annual publications, countries, and institutional contributions, and
Web of Science categories, but also evaluates researchers’ trends and
emphasis by analyzing author keywords in UGOS topic. The result shows
the top-cited articles in the field of UGOS.
Methods and Materials
The Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) in 1962 launched the
Science Citation Index for scientific journals in a consistent and
systematic manner in order to measure citation numbers. A paper quality
is best recognized by citation count (18). According to the number of
times a paper has been cited by other authors, the scientific impact of
that paper, author, or journal can be evaluated (19). In this
bibliometric research, we analyze citation indices to determine the key
papers in urban green and open spaces.
The data utilized in this research were derived from the online Web
of Science (the Tomson Reuters) on 29 August 2014. In order to find
proper keywords an email survey was conducted, with 30 emails sent to
experts as respondents and relevant keywords of UGOS investigated.
Collected data were analyzed qualitatively and extracted keywords
applied to search top articles from Web of Science core collection in
terms of topic (including four sections: title, abstract, author
keywords, and keyword plus) within the publication year limited to the
period from 1980 to 2013, indices: SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI,
CPCI-S, CPCI-SSH, these keywords were searched: (“green space*”),
(greenspace*), (“urban space*” AND green*), (“urban space*” AND open),
(“open space*”), (“green infrastructure*” AND Urban), (“public space*”)
or (“urban green*” NOT greenhouse). A total of 9,058 publications met
the selection criteria. However, these publications contained some
documents not closely related to UGOS, therefore the result was refined
by Web of Science Categories: Urban Studies. A total of 1,105 documents
were therefore determined.
Citation statistics produced for a time frame shorter than three
years may not be sufficiently stable (20, 21). Therefore, the documents
from 2012 to 2014 were put aside. Furthermore, since the target of the
data collection is the 100 most-cited articles most relevant to UGOS
and, all 1105 documents were arranged according citations, and their
abstracts studied. From 139 first documents, 39 which were not specific
to UGOS were excluded, to reach 100 most cited articles that were
analyzed statistically by Microsoft Excel. The details of the data
collection process are illustrated in Fig.1.
|Figure 1: Data collection process to search UGOS related researches
Click here to View figure
|Figure 2: Number of papers per year
Click here to View figure
Results and Discussion
Paper and authors’ citations
Table 1, presents the list of 100 most-cited papers in urban green
and open spaces that give an idea of readership. The paper by Chiesura
(22), which explains the role of urban parks in a sustainable city,
appears to be the most important, with a total of 212 citations. The
nearest competitor is a literature review (23) about promoting the
ecosystem and human health by using green infrastructure in urban areas,
with a total of 183 citations. Besides that, the first and third top
cited articles are review papers. These results are on the corresponding
general belief that review articles had the highest number of citations
Table 1: Top 100 article in urban green and open spaces (UGOS)
|R||First Author||No.||R||First Author||No.||R||First Author||No.|
|1||Chiesura, 2004||212||35||Jim, 2003||61||66||Eliasson, 2007||41|
|2||Tzoulas, 2007||183||36||Barbosa, 2007||58||66||Fabos, 2004||41|
|3||Burgess, 1988||140||36||Colding, 2007||58||66||Jorgensen, 2002||41|
|4||Luttik, 2000||119||36||Breuste, 2004||58||71||Grahn, 2010||40|
|5||Valentine, 1996||118||36||Van, 2003||58||72||Sandstrom, 2006||38|
|6||Ruddick, 1996||108||40||Kong, 2006||57||72||Khakee, 2006||38|
|7||Pauleit, 2005||101||40||Cook, 2002||57||72||Breffle, 1998||38|
|8||Tratalos, 2007||98||42||James, 2009||55||75||Daniels, 1991||37|
|9||Whitford, 2001||97||42||Chang, 2007||55||76||Comber, 2008||36|
|10||Bengston, 2004||95||44||Carles, 1999||54||77||Troy, 2008||35|
|11||Tyrvainen, 2007||85||45||Gunnarsson 2007||53||77||Tajima, 2003||35|
|11||Tyrvainen, 1997||85||45||Walsh, 2007||53||77||Linehan, 1995||35|
|13||Bowler, 2010||80||45||Shafer, 2000||53||80||Balram, 2005||34|
|14||Thompson, 2002||79||45||Southworth, 1997||53||80||Daniels, 2005||34|
|15||Anderson, 2006||78||49||Sousa, 2003||52||80||Arendt, 2004||34|
|15||Jackson, 2003||78||50||Jim, 2004||51||80||Bondi, 1998||34|
|15||Tyrvainen, 1998||78||51||Jim, 2006a||50||84||Lyytimaki, 2009||32|
|18||Yeoh, 1998||77||52||Gill, 2008||49||84||Maruani, 2007||32|
|19||Atkinson, 2003||76||53||Shultz, 2001||48||86||Dobbs, 2011||31|
|19||Zerbe, 2003||76||54||Banerjee, 2001||47||87||Nagendra, 2010||30|
|21||Morancho, 2003||74||55||Flores, 1998||46||87||Gordon, 2009||30|
|22||Sandstrom, 2006||73||56||Allen, 2006||45||87||Nordh, 2009||30|
|22||Wolch, 2005||73||56||Ozguner, 2006||45||87||Haire, 2000||30|
|24||Mathieu, 2007||72||58||Hamin, 2009||44||91||Jorgensen, 2007||29|
|24||Heynen, 2006||72||58||Gobster, 2004||44||91||Zhang, 2006||29|
|26||Kong, 2007||70||58||Goss, 1996||44||93||Zhang & Wang, 2006||28|
|27||Matsuoka, 2008||68||61||(Buijs, 2009)||43||93||Walmsley, 2006||28|
|28||Jim, 2006b||66||61||(Lafortezza, 2009)||43||93||Kim, 2005||28|
|28||Acharya, 2001||66||61||(Julier, 2005)||43||93||Kuhn, 2003||28|
|28||Soule, 1991||66||61||(Mortberg, 2000)||43||93||Schmelzkopf, 200||28|
|31||Li, 2005||65||65||(Varsanyi, 2008)||42||93||Johnston, 1997||28|
|32||Irwin, 2004||64||66||(Jim, 2009)||41||99||Schipperijn, 2010||27|
|32||Hess, 2002||64||66||(Schilling, 2008)||41||99||Loukaitousideris, 1995||27|
The top 100 papers were published between 1988 and 2011 (Fig 2).
During this period the number of papers increased consistently from 1 to
5. This number remained unchanged between 2000 and 2002. The trend is
unsteady until the two years of 2006 and 2007 which showed the highest
number of top-cited papers with 11 and 13 instances. The citation rate
gradually decreased over the years that followed. This reduction over
the last few years would seem logical because citation of scientific
papers normally starts one or two years after publication and reaches
peak after about 10 years (26). All in all, total linear trend indicates
an increasing consideration for UGOS.
Table 2 ranks the authors according the total citations they have
received. It also demonstrates the two top cited articles for each
author. Jim, CY with 269 citations is placed first, followed by
Tyrvainen, L with 248 and after him Ennos, AR obtained with 247
While our top 100 papers have 226 authors, only 20 authors wrote more
than one article (see Table 3). Jim, CY is the highest ranked with five
publications and a total of 269 citations which contain one paper with
single author and four papers as first author. Tyrvainen, L; Pauleit, S;
Chen, WY; Ennos, R and Handley, JF each contributed three papers.
According to Table 2, single authors (Jim, CY; Tyrvainen, L and Kong,
FH) published only three articles.
Table 2: The first 10 authors with the most citations
|Rank||Author||Number of publications||Total citations||First article citations||Second article citations|
Table 3: Authors with 2 publications and more
|Rank||Author||Number of publications||Single Author||First Author||Collaborative Authors|
Journal Sources and Publishers
Results showed that these papers were published in 16 journals. The most popular journal was Landscape and Urban Planning
with a total of 62 citations. This is more than nine times the citation
number of its nearest competitor. Seven papers were published in the
journal of Urban Geography and six in both journals of J AM Planning Assoc.
Total citations and also impact factor of each journal were extracted
from the website of the Journal Citation Report on 5/10/2014 and
presented in Table 4. The journal impact factor is one of the most
important measures that indicate the journal’s significance within the
related fields (27).The impact factor was first introduced by Garfield
and Sher (1963) and has been widely applied to evaluate and rank
journals (17). According to Table 4, the average impact factor is 1.46
which indicates the majority of these papers were published in the
journals with high impact factors. Therefore, in order to attain a high
number of citations, it is essential to publish papers in the English
language as it appears to be a unique literary language used in UGOS and
also to choose a high impact factor journal, which is advanced in
science and continued development (28).
Table 5 shows the publishers of 100 top articles. From all of the publishers, Elsevier Science BV individually published 64% of papers and the other 15 publishers only contributed to 36% of papers.
Table 4: Journal source
|Journal Source||Number of Papers||Rank||Total Citations||Impact Factor|
|Landscape and urban planning||62||1||6203||2.606|
|Journal of the American planning association||6||3||1725||1.489|
|URBAN FORESTRY & URBAN greening||5||5||821||2.133|
|Journal of real estate finance and economics||2||6||1103||0.697|
|REGIONAL SCIENCE AND URBAN economics||2||6||1579||0.971|
|Journal of urban economics||1||9||3094||1.888|
|URBAN AFFAIRS review||1||9||1019||1.293|
|Journal of urban technology||1||9||155||0.729|
|Journal of planning education and research||1||9||815||1.383|
|Journal of planning literature||1||9||408||1.522|
|Journal of urban affairs||1||9||673||1.298|
Table 5: Publishers
|Rank||Publisher||Number of Papers|
|1||ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV||64|
|2||V H WINSTON & SON INC||6|
|3||ELSEVIER GMBH, URBAN & FISCHER VERLAG||5|
|4||AMER PLANNING ASSOC||4|
|4||CARFAX PUBL CO||4|
|6||ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD||2|
|6||ROUTLEDGE TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD||2|
|6||SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC||2|
|6||ELSEVIER SCI LTD||2|
|6||KLUWER ACADEMIC PUBL||2|
|6||AMER PLANNING ASSN||2|
|12||ASSOC COLLEGIATE SCH PLANNING||1|
|12||PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD||1|
|12||ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE||1|
Countries and Institutes
The result shows that most of the papers originated from 22
countries, with the majority originating from the USA  followed by
UK . Table 6 shows the countries that have at least two papers.
Previous authors have hypothesized that American authors are biased
toward locally published papers when citing references (29) which may
possibly explain our findings. If continents are analyzed, 40 papers
come from Europe, 39 from North America and 21 from Asia Pacific (Table
Table 6: Number of publication of countries which have two or more publications
|Country||Number of publications||Rank|
The result also shows that from 80 universities and institutions that
published top papers, 68 have merely a single paper and the others
contributed two papers or more as shown in Table 7. University of
Sheffield and University of Hong Kong are the most fruitful with five
papers followed by US Forest Serv. and University of Massachusetts with
Table 7: Number of publication of institute which have two or more publications
|Rank||University||Number of publications|
|1||Univ Hong Kong||5|
|3||Us Forest Serv||3|
|5||Arizona State Univ||2|
|5||Univ So Calif||2|
|5||Univ Wageningen & Res Ctr||2|
Document Types and Categories
The distribution of document types identified by ISI was analyzed.
These papers consist of four document types, and articles are dominant
with 83 documents, followed by review articles (9); Proceedings Papers
 and editorial materials . The distribution related to the
language of the articles also was analyzed and all these papers are
published in English (Table 7).
Regarding Web of Science categories (Table 8) all papers are
categorized under urban studies because of the refinement during data
collection. Environmental studies  and geography  are in the
second and third ranks. This result indicates most papers are considered
under two or more categories.
Table 8: Web of science categories
|Rank||Web of Science categories||Number of papers|
|6||Planning & Development||9|
In recent years, bibliometric analysis of author keywords has been
able to provide a reasonably sophisticated picture of the papers’
subjects (17). In order to illuminate research trends, frequency of
author keywords should be analyzed quantitatively (table 9). Keywords
according to the authors’ views were used not more than 19 times (green
space*) which indicated that UGOS papers have involved a wide range of
research focuses and diverse scientific literature. Except the author’s
keywords “green space”, “open space” and “urban green space” related to
the searching keywords, three most frequently applied author keywords
are: “urban planning”, “urban park*” and “land use”. On the
other hand, all of these key words are collocations of two or three
words, therefore they have been separated and analyzed for the second
round and this time the frequency of the first key word was urban .
Table 9: The most frequently used author keywords
|No||Keywords||Number of repetitions||Rank||Separated Keywords||Number of repetitions||Rank|
|5||urban green space*||6||4||landscape||20||5|
It should be noted that this study has some methodological
limitations. Firstly, we applied online ISI web of knowledge, so the
papers not indexed in this database are ignored. Secondly, all journals
have specific approaches to reject or accept submitted manuscripts;
therefore the particular journals which have stricter selection criteria
may affect the quality of their publications. That is why 62% of 100
top cited articles have been found in one article. Thirdly, citation
count might encounter some problems such as authors’ preference for
self-citation, or cite free full access articles, review papers, well
known authors, papers by colleagues as well as cite papers from the
journal they are going to submit their work to. Finally, publication
year influences citation index and the number of citations for each
paper; therefore recent papers do not have sufficient time to reach a
high citation rate in comparison with older ones.
Table 10: Comparison of average number of citations per year and total citation
|Document Title||Year Published||Total citations||citation per year||Rank for total citations||Rank for citation per year|
|Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: a literature review.||2007||183||26.14||2||1|
|The role of urban parks for a sustainable city.||2004||212||21.20||1||2|
|Urban greening to cool town and cities: a systematic review of the empirical evidence.||2010||80||20.00||13||3|
|Urban form, biodiversity potential and ecosystem services||2007||98||14.00||8||4|
|Tools for mapping social values of urban woodlands and green areas||2007||85||12.14||11||5|
|People needs in the urban landscape: Analysis of Landscape and Urban Planning contributions||2008||68||11.33||27||6|
|Modeling the environmental impacts of urban land use and land cover change – a study in Merseyside, UK||2005||101||11.22||7||7|
|Toward an integrated understanding of green space in European built environment.||2009||55||11.00||42||8|
|A framework for developing urban forest ecosystem services and good indicators.||2011||31||10.33||86||9|
|Mapping private gardens in urban areas using object-oriented techniques and very high-resolution satellite imagery.||2007||72||10.29||24||10|
This study can be considered the first report on the top cited papers
in UGOS. The priority of the papers was arranged according to the
citations they have received. Total citations were extracted from Web of Science Core Collection Times Cited Count
but analyzing merely total citation is a potential flaw as it gives a
bias to the older papers because during a longer time they would have
accumulated a high number of citations which may be of less significance
and influence than a more recent paper. Therefore, the average number
of citations per year is used as a yardstick against which to reflect
the importance of articles.
A comparison was made between the total number of citations and the
average number of citations per year, of the top 10 articles (Table 10)
emerging 42 and 86 ranking of total citations, between top 10 high ranks
of average citation per year indicates how different these two criteria
can be. From a total of 1,105 UGOS papers returned using our methods,
the paper with the maximum number of average citations per year [26.14]
was written by Tzoulas (23), which has the second highest number of
total citations . The second highest number of average citations
per year is the paper written by Chiesura (22), which achieved first
rank with a total citation of 212.
Conflict of Interest
We confirm that no authorities have any conflict of interest in the
process of producing this paper. No authors have a personal relationship
with other organizations or people that could influence this research
inappropriately and also there has not been any financial benefit
attached to this paper.
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