New journal selection for quantitative survey of infectious disease research: application for Asian trend analysis

Hiromi Takahashi-Omoe, Katsuhiko Omoe, Nobuhiko Okabe
BMC Medical Research Methodology 2009, 9: 67

BACKGROUND: Quantitative survey of research articles, as an application of bibliometrics, is an effective tool for grasping overall trends in various medical research fields. This type of survey has been also applied to infectious disease research; however, previous studies were insufficient as they underestimated articles published in non-English or regional journals.

METHODS: Using a combination of Scopus and PubMed, the databases of scientific literature, and English and non-English keywords directly linked to infectious disease control, we identified international and regional infectious disease journals. In order to ascertain whether the newly selected journals were appropriate to survey a wide range of research articles, we compared the number of original articles and reviews registered in the selected journals to those in the 'Infectious Disease Category' of the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI Infectious Disease Category) during 1998-2006. Subsequently, we applied the newly selected journals to survey the number of original articles and reviews originating from 11 Asian countries during the same period.

RESULTS: One hundred journals, written in English or 7 non-English languages, were newly selected as infectious disease journals. The journals published 14,156 original articles and reviews of Asian origin and 118,158 throughout the world, more than those registered in the SCI Infectious Disease Category (4,621 of Asian origin and 66,518 of the world in the category). In Asian trend analysis of the 100 journals, Japan had the highest percentage of original articles and reviews in the area, and no noticeable increase in articles was revealed during the study period. China, India and Taiwan had relatively large numbers and a high increase rate of original articles among Asian countries. When adjusting the publication of original articles according to the country population and the gross domestic product (GDP), Singapore and Taiwan were the most productive.

CONCLUSION: A survey of 100 selected journals is more sensitive than the SCI Infectious Disease Category from the viewpoint of avoiding underestimating the number of infectious disease research articles of Asian origin. The survey method is applicable to grasp global trends in disease research, although the method may require further development.

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