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Global research on digital divide during the past two decades: a bibliometric study of Web of Science indexed literature

Nilaranjan Barik (Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Burla, India)

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication

ISSN: 2514-9342

Article publication date: 28 February 2023




This study aims to examine the research output on digital divide from 2001 to 2020 and measure the qualitative and quantitative growth of literature during the stated period by using required bibliometric measures for identifying the types of documents, yearly growth, country productivity, citation network of collaborative countries, authorship pattern, top authors, cocitation networks and assorted facets.


Web of Science database was used to retrieve the required data for this study. Keeping the objectives of this study in mind, the keyword “Digital Divide” was used as the search term. Moreover, the retrieved data were limited from the year 2001 to 2020 for two decades. A total of 5,518 publications were filtered and focused for subsequent facet-wise analysis and interpretation. Required bibliometric indicators like types of documents, yearly growth, authorship pattern, degree of collaboration (DC), country productivity, h-index and citation impact were used to study various dimensions of publication trends. VOSviewer software was used to visualize the authorship network, bibliographic coupling and keyword occurrences.


This study finds a total of 5,518 publications on the topic digital divide contributed by 14,277 authors from 130 countries across the world published through 2,843 source titles in 13 global languages during the past two decades (2001–2020). The annual growth of publications (AGP) on the topic digital divide shows 38.43% AGP globally. Journal articles have been identified as the preferred type of document with 73.11% of the literature. The DC indicates a healthy trend of collaborative research with a mean value of 0.70. The USA is the table topper with the contribution of 1,933(35.03%) publications and 77 h-index and James J., from Tilburg University, The Netherlands, is identified as top amongst the most productive authors with the highest number of 34 publications (h-index 14).

Research limitations/implications

This study restricts its scope on research productivity to the theme “digital divide” regarding authorship pattern, DC, most productive authors, most productive countries, most published sources and other key facets. This study exclusively refers to the Web of Science database in retrieving the required data. Moreover, this study takes global research into account with no geographical or language limitations and comprehends literature on digital divide for two decades ranging from the years 2001 to 2020.

Practical implications

Teachers and research scholars interested in bibliometric studies can benefit from insights into the scholarly documents published on the topic digital divide from 2001 to 2020.


This study yields some interesting findings on published literature on the digital divide during the past two decades relating to the most striking contributions, highly cited journals, the most prolific authors, country productivity, keyword cooccurrence and assorted parameters.



Barik, N. (2023), "Global research on digital divide during the past two decades: a bibliometric study of Web of Science indexed literature", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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