Analysis of Green Chemistry publications over the past four years.


This figure is taken from Green chemistry: state of the art through an analysis of the literature by V. Dichiarante, D. Ravelli and A. Albini. Green Chemistry Letter and Reviews Vol. 3, No. 2, June 2010, 105-113.
As the label indicates, the pie chart shows a distribution of green chemistry topics as analyzed by articles produced in the year 2008. The majority of the pie chart (about 50%) is attributed to catalysis – or starting a reaction, under more favorable conditions that require less resources, whether those resources are heat, energy, reagents etc. Specifically, metal catalysts were the most cited catalysts used in many different reactions, specifically in those involving enzymes. Acids are also seen in this category, and according to the article, are used mainly in condensation reactions. The next largest section of the pie (about 40%) is attributed to media, or where/in what the reaction takes place. Many reactions require some liquid for a reaction to take place. Many of these liquids, especially in organic chemistry, are volatile or toxic compounds. As a result, most of the research done with green chemistry and the media of reactions use either no solvent, which allows for most reduction of waste. Water has also gained a prominent role in green chemistry literature as it is our universal solvent and usually can be recycled in a reaction. Ionic liquids are the third major media hit; they are liquids that have charged compounds in the solution to help guide a reaction. Ionic liquids are usually not volatile and are stored more easily compared to their organic counterparts. Finally, the last 10% of the pie chart goes to ‘new methods,’ or novel ways to do old reactions. Using microwaves to start and maintain a reaction is the most prominent method, followed by some research advances in photochemistry and ultrasounds, using light or sound respectively in reactions.


Green Chemistry Research Publications are increasing in number, though the overall body of literature is still small.

Data show an increase in publication of papers about green chemistry and increased citations of these articles over the past five years. Many papers are authored by scientists in non-US countries; China is now the second most prolific source after the US of both chemistry and Green Chemistry articles.

The apparent increase in the number of hits on ‘green chemistry’ was seen in many different fields. The graph shows this increase in the medical databases (PubMed), the research databases (ISI Web of Knowledge), and even the government databases (Science Gov). The prevalence and importance of green chemistry research has been booming over the past five years, and is expected to increase even more in the next five years.



Compared to any other field in chemistry, funding for Green Chemistry is shockingly low.

NSF Bubble graph

Postdoctoral positions are an increasingly necessary step in an academic chemist’s career; often postdocs conduct the most cutting-edge research. The overall proportion of science PhDs who held a postdoctoral position grew from 41% in 1973 to 61% in 2005; in 2006 8% of these were in chemistry .

22,900 U.S. citizens and permanent residents were in academic postdoc positions in the fall of 2005 (SDR in Indicators); of this some 4,200 were in chemistry.  An additional 26,600 postdocs were awarded in all fields that same year to US students with temporary visas; 2,750 of these were in chemistry (GSS in Indicators). However, there are few postdoc positions dedicated to Green Chemistry in the US.

What US postdocs exist in Green Chemistry are not funded with government support; the source of this funding matters because it profoundly affects the direction in which research trends.

However, there is funding to be found from the EPA & NSF. Click here for a list of opportunities!


Increase in the impact factor of the Green Chemistry Journal.


Impact factors allow you to see the average number of citations per paper, potentially showing the significance and advancements of the journal. Amongst the RSC Chemistry journals, Chemical Society Reviews has the highest impact factor of 24.6. The average for these chemistry journals is 2.4. Green Chemistry recently received an impact factor of 6.056, a value 300% greater than the average. Specific journals such as Green Chemistry are predicted to recieve lower impact factors due to the specificity of the field in comparison to a holistic chemistry journal. Green Chemistry’s higher impact factor shows its increasing prevalence and salience in the chemical world.



Web of Science. C2011.

National Research Council, Committee on Benchmarking the Research Competitiveness of the US in Chemistry.  The future of US chemistry research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press. 2007.

National Science Board. Science and engineering indicators 2008: Volume One

Research Associateship Programs. C2007. Washington (DC): National Research Council.

RSC Publishing Blog. 2011.

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