Project Description

Smart Contracts on the Blockchain – A Bibliometric Analysis and Review

BRL Working Paper No. 10


Smart contracts are decentrally anchored scripts on blockchains or similar infrastructures that allow the transparent execution of predefined processes. Using smart contracts, assets like money become programmable, which opens up previously inaccessible application potential. To date, smart contracts control billions in value.

This paper analyzes 468 peer-reviewed articles on the topic of smart contracts and their 20,188 references, providing a summary and analysis of the current state of research on smart contracts. Using exploratory factor analysis for co- citation analysis, we identify six different strands of research that concern technical, social, economic and legal disciplines:

  1. Technical foundations, development and open questions of blockchain networks,
  2. Blockchain and smart contracts for the Internet of Things,
  3. Smart contract standardization, verification and security,
  4. Blockchain and smart contracts for the disruption of existing processes and industries,
  5. Potentials and challenges of smart contracts, and
  6. Smart contracts and the law.

The interrelations between these groups are visualized using social network analysis. We thus obtain a structured overview of the main strands of research concerning smart contracts, their development over time, the relevance of smart contract platforms in research, and conceptual connections between publications and discourses. The results offer researchers and practitioners a substantial basis for their work on smart contracts.

Keywords: entrepreneurial finance; financial innovation; blockchain technology; tokenization; cryptocurrency; ethereum; bibliometrics; informetric study; ethereum; social network analysis

Suggested citation:

Ante, L. (2020). Smart Contracts on the Blockchain – A Bibliometric Analysis and Review. Telematics & Informatics. 101519. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2020.101519


15 Apr 2020


BRL Working Paper