INTRODUCTION Since the 2000s, interest in research data management (RDM) has grown considerably. As a result, a large body of literature has discussed a broad variety of aspects related to data management. But, few studies have examined and also interpreted from visual perception the intellectual structure and progressive development of the existing literature on RDM. METHODS Guided by five research questions, this study employed bibliometric techniques and a visualization tool (CiteSpace) to identify and analyze the patterns of the scholarly publications about RDM. RESULTS Through CiteSpace’s modeling and computing, the knowledge (or network) structures, significant studies, notable topics, and development trends in the literature of RDM were revealed. DISCUSSION The majority of the literature pertinent to RDM was published after 2002. Major research clusters within this interdisciplinary field include “scientific collaboration,” “research support service,” and “data literacy,” while the “scientific collaboration” research cluster was the most active. Topics such as “digital curation” and “information processing” appeared most frequently in the RDM literature. Additionally, there was a sharp increase in several specific topics, such as “digital library,” “big data,” and “data sharing.” CONCLUSION By looking into the “profile” of the literature on RDM, in terms of knowledge structure, evolving trends, and important topics in the domain, this work will add new information to current discussions about RDM, new service development, and future research focuses in this area.