Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (11): 2209-2229.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201911002

• 85th Anniversary of Acta Geographica Sinica • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Development of geographical research in China through the lens of publication in the Acta Geographica Sinica between 1934 and 2018

HE Shujin1,LIU Changming1,YUAN Zhenjie2,3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Centre for Human Geography and Urban Development, School of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    3. Guangdong Provincial Research Institution of Urban and Migration Studies, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2019-09-15 Revised:2019-10-17 Online:2019-11-25 Published:2019-11-01
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971184);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41601133);Natural Science Foundation of Guangzhou Province, China(2019A1515012102)


This paper employs Citespace to process the publication data of the Acta Geographica Sinica between 1934 and 2018. It will examine and summarize the features of the historical development of geographical research in China. A total of 4129 articles published in the journal are analysed in four aspects, including key themes, trends of the themes, historical burst terms and changes of contributing institutions. Four stages of development are considered, which include establishment (1934-1949), transformation (1950-1966), development stage (1978-1995) and comprehensive development stage (1996-present). Findings of this paper are: (1) the historical development and transformation of the journal, which reflects the capability of self-innovation and significant vitality of the Geographical Society of China in the past, present and future; (2) physical geography, human geography, remote sensing and geographical information system, and ecological and environmental studies, which are four main research fields of the Geographical Society of China, with a transforming trend from physical geography, to human geography, and an interdisciplinary research on the human-earth system; (3) Four main research "turns" are identified: ① research perspectives: towards a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and integrated geographical study; ② research content: from the studies of physical elements to the studies of humanistic elements, and to the studies of processes, mechanism and influence within/of the human-earth system; ③ research paradigm: towards a critical and integrated approach involving scientific positivism, scientism and humanism; ④ research method: from on-site observation and digital modelling to an integrated analytical toolkit, based on multi-sources of spatial and temporal information. Future studies are expected to further extend and improve the system of geographical theories, enhancing critical thinking on the research paradigm and incorporating them with cognate subjects, and using an open mind to promote the influence of geographical research in the fields of both natural science and social science.

Key words: Acta Geographica Sinica, geography, research theme, bibliometric analysis, Citesapce