Tropical Geography ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (2): 343-356.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003627

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A Review and Prospect of Urbanization Research in Pearl River Delta: Bibliometrics and Mapping Knowledge Domain Based on CiteSpace

Runnan Wu(), Kairui Chen, Lixin Liu, Chunshan Zhou()   

  1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2022-03-17 Revised:2022-09-05 Online:2023-02-05 Published:2023-02-28
  • Contact: Chunshan Zhou;


Pearl River Delta is the most densely populated and urbanized area in China. As the pilot area of reform and opening up, Pearl River Delta takes the lead in its urbanization in China and represents the development trend of China's urbanization. Therefore, a great number and diversity of previous studies on urbanization in the Pearl River Delta warrant further review and reflection. This study focused on publications about urbanization in the Pearl River Delta from 1983 to 2020 in the collection of Chinese core journals and dissertations in the China Academic Journals Full-text Database (CNKI). The quantitative characteristics of published papers, the scientific cooperation network of core authors and institutions, research topics, and historical research hotspots were analyzed for different periods through bibliometrics and mapping knowledge domains based on CiteSpace. Results indicated that: (1) the number of publications of the relevant research showed an upward trend, which was divided into the following four stages: initial (1983-1991), exploratory (1992-2002), prosperity (2003-2011), and deep cultivation (2012-2020) stages. (2) The research institutions gradually expanded from south China universities, with Sun Yat-sen University emerging as the core to form a national network of research collaboration, and the scholar network has expanded from occasional collaboration to form a variety of cooperation networks within and across institutions. (3) In the evolution process of knowledge, research topics that scholars focused on included economic zone, rural urbanization, urban agglomeration, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area, new-type urbanization, innovation, while other historical hotspots that scholars focused on included economic zone, new-type urbanization, and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area. (4) The research showed the characteristics of policy and practice orientations, the continuous expansion of vision and scope, and the theoretical research stages evolving from lag to advance and then to synchronization. After the urbanization development stage of a metropolitan circle and urban agglomeration was jointly entered, the theoretical construction of localization was slightly insufficient, and that of the people-oriented urbanization mode was lacking. (5) Pearl River Delta entered the regional urbanization stage, with the metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations being the main body. The driving force of urbanization development shifted to scientific and technological innovation, while the development features shifted to intensive, high-quality, and people-oriented urbanization. Finally, this study argued that future studies on urbanization in Pearl River Delta should focus on the theoretical and practical pathways of the coordinated development of urban agglomeration in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area, innovation-driven development strategy, and people-oriented urbanization.

Key words: urbanization, Pearl River Delta, bibliometric analysis, CiteSpace, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area

CLC Number: 

  • F299.2