Characterising the Digital Twin: A systematic literature review

David Jones, Chris Snider, Aydin Nassehi, Jason Yon, Ben Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

872 Citations (SciVal)
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While there has been a recent growth of interest in the Digital Twin, a variety of definitions employed across industry and academia remain. There is a need to consolidate research such to maintain a common understanding of the topic and ensure future research efforts are to be based on solid foundations. Through a systematic literature review and a thematic analysis of 92 Digital Twin publications from the last ten years, this paper provides a characterisation of the Digital Twin, identification of gaps in knowledge, and required areas of future research. In characterising the Digital Twin, the state of the concept, key terminology, and associated processes are identified, discussed, and consolidated to produce 13 characteristics (Physical Entity/Twin; Virtual Entity/Twin; Physical Environment; Virtual Environment; State; Realisation; Metrology; Twinning; Twinning Rate; Physical-to-Virtual Connection/Twinning; Virtual-to-Physical Connection/Twinning; Physical Processes; and Virtual Processes) and a complete framework of the Digital Twin and its process of operation. Following this characterisation, seven knowledge gaps and topics for future research focus are identified: Perceived Benefits; Digital Twin across the Product Life-Cycle; Use-Cases; Technical Implementations; Levels of Fidelity; Data Ownership; and Integration between Virtual Entities; each of which are required to realise the Digital Twin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-52
Number of pages17
JournalCIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology
Issue numberA
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital Twin
  • Virtual Twin


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