Skip to content

Advertisement

  • Research article
  • Open Access
  • Open Peer Review

Scientific publications from Arab world in leading journals of Integrative and Complementary Medicine: a bibliometric analysis

BMC Complementary and Alternative MedicineThe official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR)201515:308

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-015-0840-z

  • Received: 9 January 2014
  • Accepted: 1 September 2015
  • Published:
Open Peer Review reports

Abstract

Background

Bibliometric analysis is increasingly employed as a useful tool to assess the quantity and quality of research performance. The specific goal of the current study was to evaluate the performance of research output originating from Arab world and published in international Integrative and Complementary Medicine (ICM) journals.

Methods

Original scientific publications and reviews from the 22 Arab countries that were published in 22 international peer-reviewed ICM journals during all previous years up to December 31st 2013, were screened using the Web of Science databases.

Results

Five hundred and ninety-one documents were retrieved from 19 ICM journals. The h-index of the set of papers under study was 47. The highest h-index was 27 for Morocco, 21 for Jordan, followed by 19 for each Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Egypt, and the lowest h-index was 1 for each of Comoros, Qatar, and Syrian Arab Republic. No data related to ICM were published from Djibouti, and Mauritania. After adjusting for economy and population power, Somalia (89), Morocco (32.5), Egypt (31.1), Yemen (21.4), and Palestine (21.2) had the highest research productivity. The total number of citations was 9,466, with an average citation of 16 per document. The study identified 262 (44.3 %) documents with 39 countries in Arab-foreign country collaborations. Arab authors collaborated most with countries in Europe (24.2 %), followed by countries in the Asia-Pacific region (9.8 %).

Conclusion

Scientific research output in the ICM field in the Arab world region is increasing. Most of publications from Arab world in ICM filed were driven by societal use of medicinal plants and herbs. Search for new therapies from available low cost medicinal plants in Arab world has motivated many researchers in academia and pharmaceutical industry. Further investigation is required to support these findings in a wider journal as well as to improve research output in the field of ICM from Arab world region by investing in more national and international collaborative research project.

Keywords

  • Bibliometric
  • Integrative and Complementary Medicine
  • Arab world
  • Web of Science
  • h-index

Background

Recent research has shown that Integrative and Complementary Medicine (ICM) becomes increasingly popular and commonly used by the general population [1]. ICM is a growing scientific field and during the last decades, there has been a rapid rising of peer-reviewed ICM publications in a variety of scientific journals [14]. ICM is recognized as a relative expression including a variety of health-care methods, which are known “other than” conventional medicine [5]. Previously, the concept “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) has been commonly used, along with transformations of western health care, in various contexts; but it has been recently substituted by the concept of “integrated and complementary medicine”. In general, “complementary medicine” intended to treatments that are used together with conventional medicine, while “alternative medicine” intended to treatments that are used in place of conventional medicine [2, 6]. Integrative medicine is considered as an integration between the alternative medicine practices and methods with conventional medicine [6, 7].

During the last decade, several researchers had analyzed and assessed the outcome of scientific research production from Arab world [815]. Actually, the assessment of scientific research production in the ICM field has been insufficiently investigated to date, and there are a small number of worldwide published studies on scientific research production in ICM [13, 5, 16, 17]. On the other hand, within the limits of our knowledge, there is no previous report regarding the assessment of scientific research production in ICM originating from the Arab region. However, the status of ICM research in this region, until now, has not been reported. Thus, estimation of Arab output of current research in ICM may be of attention. Therefore, in this type of bibliometric study, we wanted to assess the quantity and quality [18] of published papers in the ICM field which was published in the world’s leading ICM journals from the Arab region.

Methods

Search strategy

Scientific research output in the ICM field was evaluated based on an indicators which are commonly used in previous similar bibliometric studies [13, 5, 1517, 1924]. The information used in this study was extracted from the Science Citation Index (SCI). The source of journals for the publications examined was chosen with the intention to represent Arab world scientific research output in the field of ICM. Twenty-two journals were included in “Integrative & Complementary Medicine” category in the Journal Citation Report (JCR) – 2013. It looks that publications published in these 22 journals represent the majority of scientific research output in ICM field, even though there are definitely other ICM publications may be published in other fields.

All Arab countries: Jordan; Iraq; Syrian Arab Republic (SAR); Kuwait; Egypt; Yemen; Qatar; United Arab Emirates (UAE); Bahrain; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA); Oman; Sudan; Tunisia; Algeria; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Somalia; Djibouti; Comoros; and Mauritania were used as country keys followed by “Integrative & Complementary Medicine” phrase as ISI Web of Knowledge's category. Palestine was excluded from the search keys and replaced by Israel in separate search because the ISI Web of Knowledge database does not identify Palestine as an independent country yet, and then we refined the organizations only to those related to Palestine.

To increase the precision of results, original scientific publications and reviews from the 22 Arab countries that were published in 22 international peer-reviewed ICM journals during all previous years up to December 31st 2013, were screened because it seems that this type of publications represent and describe the research activities. Other types of publications such as letter to the editor, editorials, and others were excluded. All searches and data extraction were accomplished within one day on 1st August 2014 to avoid the possibility of unfairness due to the daily update of databases.

Statistical analysis

The extracted data from ISI Web of Knowledge were transferred to Microsoft Office Excel® 2007. The data were then exported to the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 15 for analysis. Numerical data such as total number of citations are presented as average and categorical data are presented as frequencies and percentages. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) using PROXSCAL analysis with Euclidean distances was used to visualize and verify countries' collaboration profiles in a graphical way [25, 26]. The extracted data were used to create the following information: (a) total and trends of Arab world contributions in ICM research; (b) Arab countries scientific research output and collaboration patterns in the field of ICM; (c) ICM journals with their impact factors according to Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) journal citation reports (JCR) 2012 in which Arab authors published their work; and (d) the citations pattern. Only the 10 top ranked measurements (e.g. cited articles, countries, institutions) were taken into consideration, and converted to rank order by the standard competition ranking (SCR) [20]. The h-index for data collected from SCI and for each country is presented as a way of qualifying research performance, which was recognized by Hirsch in 2005, where index h is known as the number of publication with a citation number more than or equal to h [27].

Results

The total number of documents related to ICM obtained by using the key words “Integrative & Complementary Medicine” in SCI search engine as Web of Science Category without specifying the name of any country and by using the same inclusion criteria was 28,199 documents (Fig. 1). This number of publications represents the total global research output in ICM field. By using the same methodology, only 591 (2.1 % from the total global research output in ICM) documents were from the 22 countries retrieved; comprising 569 (96.3 %) original journal articles, and 22 (3.7 %) review articles (Fig. 1). The annual number of documents published in the period of publication (1980–2013) indicated that research activity from Arab world was low in the earliest two decades but demonstrated a noticeable increase in the last decade (Table 1). Furthermore, Arab research output during the recent decade was low in the first years but demonstrated a noticeable increase after 2011. Around 34.2 % of publications were published during 2011–2013; however, the total number of scientific research output in 2013 may be a little bit rising because it may still open for new journals issues. The first article published from Arab World was in Egypt, and it was published by Sayed MD in Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 1980 [28].
Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Diagrammatic representation of global research productivity profiles in leading journals of integrative and complementary medicine

Table 1

Annual number of integrative & complementary medicine-based publications from Arab World

Year

Total

N = 591 (%)

1980-1989

29 (4.9)

1990-1999

82 (13.9)

2000

25 (4.2)

2001

20 (3.4)

2002

22 (3.7)

2003

23 (3.9)

2004

24 (4.1)

2005

24 (4.1)

2006

20 (3.4)

2007

20 (3.4)

2008

27 (4.6)

2009

33 (5.6)

2010

40 (6.8)

2011

53 (9.0)

2012

74 (12.5)

2013

66 (12.7)

The extracted publications were published in 19 out of 22 peer-reviewed ICM journals listed in Web of Knowledge® (Table 2). Three hundred and twenty-five articles (55.0 %) were published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, whereas 64 (10.8 %) were published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and 53 (9.0 %) were published in Phytomedicine. This was followed by 51 (8.6 %) articles that were published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and 28 (4.7 %) were published in American Journal of Chinese Medicine. Of the 19 journal titles, 17 (89.5 %) have their IF listed in the JCR 2012 (Table 2).
Table 2

List of journals in which the 591 documents were published with their impact factors

Journal

Frequency (%)

IFa

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

325 (55.0)

2.755

Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

64 (10.8)

1.722

Phytomedicine

53 (9.0)

2.972

BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine

51 (8.6)

2.082

American Journal of Chinese Medicine

28 (4.7)

2.281

African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicines

26 (4.4)

0.518

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

14 (2.4)

1.464

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

7 (1.2)

2.093

Integrative Cancer Therapies

5 (0.9)

2.354

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

4 (0.7)

1.647

Journal of Herbal Medicine

2 (0.3)

NA

Homeopathy

2 (0.3)

0.838

Forschende Komplementarmedizin

2 (0.3)

1.279

European Journal of Integrative Medicine

2 (0.3)

0.559

Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines

2 (0.3)

1.059

Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine

1 (0.2)

0.589

Holistic Nursing Practice

1 (0.2)

0.341

Chinese Medicine

1 (0.2)

NA

Alternative Medicine Review

1 (0.2)

4.857

Abbreviations: IF impact factor, NA not available

aThe impact factor was reported according to Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) journal citation reports (JCR) 2012

The highest number of publications in ICM journals was from KSA (25.0 %), followed by Egypt (16.8), and Morocco (16.2 %); (Table 3). No data related to ICM were published from Djibouti, and Mauritania. After adjusting for economy and population power, Somalia (89), Morocco (32.5), Egypt (31.1), Yemen (21.4), and Palestine (21.2) had the highest research output. Rank of countries such as Qatar, and Kuwait tended to be comparatively low. The total number of citations, at the date of data extraction, was 9,466, with an average citation of 16.0 per document. The highest average number of citations was 29 for Libya, followed by 25.4 for Palestine, and the lowest average number of citations was 2.8 for Bahrain and 6.7 for Tunisia. The total number of citations without self-citation was 8,842. Of the 591 documents used for calculation of h-index, 47 documents had been cited at least 47 times. The highest h-index was 27 for Morocco, and 21 for each Jordan and Egypt, followed by 19 for KSA, and the lowest h-index was 1 for Comoros, Qatar, and SAR. Additionally, the highest country collaborated with international authors was achieved by the KSA, with 70 documents, followed by 64 documents for Morocco and 46 documents for Egypt.
Table 3

Bibliometric analysis of the 591 documents by country

SCRa

Countries

No. of articles (%)

h-index

Average of citation

No. of foreign countries that the main country collaborated with

No. of documents with international collaborations

Adjustment indexb

1st

KSA

148 (25.0)

19

9.2

24

70

5.89

2nd

Egypt

99 (16.8)

21

13.3

27

46

31.06

3nd

Morocco

96 (16.2)

27

24.5

16

64

32.53

4th

Jordan

52 (8.8)

21

22.1

8

9

10.52

5th

Tunisia

33 (5.6)

10

6.7

7

14

7.79

6th

Yemen

32 (5.4)

12

15.1

12

26

21.41

7th

Algeria

24 (4.1)

9

11.2

9

14

4.49

8th

Palestine

21 (3.6)

11

28.1

4

5

21.16

8th

Iraq

21 (3.6)

11

22.4

4

7

3.25

10th

Lebanon

20 (3.4)

10

14.2

7

10

2.06

11th

Sudan

19 (3.2)

10

17.8

11

12

12.03

12th

UAE

18 (3.1)

10

17.6

10

8

0.48

12th

Oman

18 (3.1)

7

13.5

14

11

0.85

14th

Somalia

8 (1.4)

6

17.1

2

6

88.99

15th

Kuwait

5 (0.9)

4

11.6

0

0

0.1

16th

Bahrain

4 (0.7)

2

2.8

4

4

0.18

17th

Libya

3 (0.5)

3

29

3

2

0.3

18th

SAR

1 (0.2)

1

-

2

1

0.3

18th

Qatar

1 (0.2)

1

-

1

1

0.01

18th

Comoros

1(0.2)

1

-

1

1

1.2

21st

Djibouti

0 (0.0)

-

-

-

-

-

21st

Mauritania

0 (0.0)

-

-

-

-

-

Abbreviations: KSA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SAR Syrian Arab Republic, SCR Standard Competition Ranking, UAE United Arab Emirates

aEqual countries have the same ranking number, and then a gap is left in the ranking numbers

bAn adjustment index (AI) was calculated using the following formula: AI = [total number of publications for the country / GDP per capita of the country]*1000. Where: GDP per capita = GDP/population of the country

In addition, the study identified 262 (44.3 %) documents with 39 countries in Arab-foreign country collaborations. Arab authors actively worked in partnership from France (n = 48), followed by Germany (n = 34), Malaysia (n = 30), and the United States of America (USA); (n = 25); (Table 4). By region, Arab authors actively worked in partnership from countries in Europe (24.2 %), particularly France and Germany, followed by countries in the Asia-Pacific region (9.8 %), particularly India and Pakistan (Table 4). Figure 2 illustrates the multidimensional scaling map of the collaborations correlation matrix of 59 countries over the study period. Mapping the data along two dimensions allows us to visualize the correspondence between documents in terms of their relative distances based on the collaborations profiles with certain country. The more closely the two countries were represented on the map, the more frequently they were collaborated jointly by the 262 collaborated documents. Collaboration map with statistically obtained values for configuration were derived along two dimensions. S-stress is a measure of fit ranging from 0 (perfect fit) to 1 (worst possible fit). Stress measure for the results of the current study was 0.3 (good fit) while the squared correlation (RSQ) was 0.91 meaning that 91 % of variance in the model could be explained by the two dimensions [25, 26]. In this case, we have a good fit model representing a poor approximation of the Arab-foreign country collaboration. Morocco and KSA were strong on dimension 1 while Egypt appeared high on dimension 2. Referring to stimulus coordinates (i.e. Common Space), we observe that values range from −0.82 to 0.94 for dimension 1 and from −0.87 to 0.88 for dimension 2.
Table 4

Collaborations between Arab countries and foreign countries in Integrative & Complementary Medicine publications

Collaborating countries

No. of documents (%)

Collaborating countries

No. of documents (%)

Arab-Europe

143 (24.2)

Arab-Americas

39 (6.6)

 France

48 (8.1)

 USA

25 (4.2)

 Germany

34 (5.8)

 Canada

12 (2.0)

 Sweden

13 (2.2)

 Brazil

2 (0.3)

 Italy

12 (2.0)

 Mexico

1 (0.2)

 UK

11 (1.9)

 Panama

1 (0.2)

 Spain

10 (1.7)

Arab-Other Middle East, Africa

16 (2.7)

 Belgium

8 (1.4)

 Cameroon

5 (0.9)

 Switzerland

4 (0.7)

 South Africa

4 (0.7)

 Wales

3 (0.5)

 Iran

4 (0.7)

 Austria

2 (0.3)

 Benin

1 (0.2)

 Netherlands

2 (0.3)

 Nigeria

1 (0.2)

 Denmark

2 (0.3)

 Senegambia

1 (0.2)

 Czech Republic

1 (0.2)

Arab-Asia-Pacific

58 (9.8)

 Finland

1 (0.2)

 India

19 (3.2)

 Ireland

1 (0.2)

 Pakistan

12 (2.0)

 Cyprus

1 (0.2)

 Japan

12 (2.0)

 Norway

1 (0.2)

 PRC

8 (1.4)

Arab-Southeast Asia

33 (5.9)

 Australia

5 (0.9)

 Malaysia

30 (5.1)

 Taiwan

2 (0.3)

 Singapore

1 (0.2)

 South Korea

1 (0.2)

 Thailand

1 (0.2)

Arab-Arab

33 (5.9)

 Myanmar

1 (0.2)

  

Abbreviations: PRC People's Republic of China, UK United Kingdom, USA United States of America

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Multidimensional scaling (MDS) for collaboration profile for Arab countries using Euclidean distance model

Table 5 shows the areas of interest of the scientific articles. Category of pharmacology and pharmacy was the most areas of research interest, represented by 382 (64.6 %) articles. The second most researched topic was plant sciences 378 (63.9 %) followed by general internal medicine 28 (4.7 %). Table 6 shows a list of the 20 most cited articles in ICM field originating from Arab region. Table 7 shows the top 20 most prolific institutions in ICM journals. The most prolific institution was King Saud University (15.4 %), followed by University of Jordan (6.1 %), and Cairo University (4.4 %).
Table 5

Areas of interest for published papers by the Arab countries

Areas of interest

n (%)a

Pharmacology and pharmacy

382 (64.6)

Plant sciences

378 (63.9)

General internal medicine

28 (4.7)

Oncology

5 (0.9)

Health care sciences services

4 (0.7)

Rehabilitation

4 (0.7)

Nursing

1 (0.2)

aTotal exceeds 100 % as data are overlapping due to multidiscipline interaction

Table 6

Ranking of top 20 cited Integrative & Complementary Medicine articles from Arab world

SCRa

Title

Authors-Year

Source title

Cited by

1st

Phytotherapy of hypertension and diabetes in oriental Morocco

Ziyyat et al. 1997

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

148

2nd

Screening of some Palestinian medicinal plants for antibacterial activity

Essawi and srour 2000

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

144

3rd

Hypoglycaemic effect of Artemisia herba alba. II. Effect of a valuable extract on some blood parameters in diabetic animals.

Al-Shamaony et al. 1994

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

139

4th

Studies on the antimicrobial activity of Nigella sativa seed (black cumin)

Hanafy and Hatem 1991

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

116

5th

The anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity of Nigella sativa

Al-Ghamdi 2001

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

113

6th

Ethnopharmacological survey of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, hypertension and cardiac disease in the south-east region of Morocco (Tafilalet)

Eddouks et al. 2002

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

101

7th

Ethnobotanical survey in the Palestinian area: a classification of the healing potential of medicinal plants

Ali-Shtayeh et al. 2000

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

98

7th

Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts

Atta and Alkofahi 1998

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

98

7th

Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diabetes, cardiac and renal diseases in the North centre region of Morocco (Fez-Boulemane)

Jouad et al. 2001

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

98

10th

Repertory of standard herbal drugs in the Moroccan pharmacopoea.

Bellakhdar et al. 1991

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

94

11th

Antimicrobial activity of 20 plants used in folkloric medicine in the Palestinian area

Ali-Shtayeh et al. 1998

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

93

12th

Ethnopharmacological survey of plants used in the traditional treatment of hypertension and diabetes in south-eastern Morocco (Errachidia province)

Tahraoui et al. 2007

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

91

12th

Chemical composition, antibacterial and antifungal activities of the essential oil of Haplophyllum tuberculatum from Oman

Al-Burtamani et al. 2005

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

91

12th

Screening of Yemeni medicinal plants for antibacterial and cytotoxic activities

Ali et al. 2001

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

91

15th

Potential antimalarial candidates from African plants: and in vitro approach using Plasmodium falciparum

Khalid et al. 1986

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

88

16th

Evaluation of mastic, a crude drug obtained from Pistacia lentiscus for gastric and duodenal anti-ulcer activity.

Alsaid et al. 1986

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

84

17th

Thymoquinone attenuates ifosfamide-induced Fanconi syndrome in rats and enhances its antitumor activity in mice

Badary 1999

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

78

18th

Chemical composition and antifungal activity of essential oils of seven Moroccan Labiatae against Botrytis cinerea Pers : Fr.

Bouchra et al. 2003

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

77

19th

Screening of selected indigenous plants of Lebanon for antimicrobial activity

Barbour et al. 2004

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

69

20th

The effect of Nigella sativa oil against the liver damage induced by Schistosoma mansoni infection in mice

Mahmoud et al. 2002

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

69

Abbreviation: SCR Standard Competition Ranking

aEqual articles have the same ranking number, and then a gap is left in the ranking numbers

Table 7

Ranking of top 20 productive institutions from Arab world affiliations during the study period

SCRa

Institutions, country

No. of documents (%)

1st

King Saud University, KSA

91 (15.4)

2nd

The University of Jordan, Jordan

36 (6.1)

3rd

Cairo University, Egypt

26 (4.4)

4th

National Research Center, Egypt

25 (4.2)

5th

Sanaa University, Yemen

23 (3.9)

6th

King Abdulaziz University, KSA

18 (3.1)

7th

Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Morocco

13 (2.23)

7th

American University of Beirut, Lebanon

13 (2.2)

9th

Arab American University, Palestine

12 (2.0)

9th

University of Khartoum, Sudan

12 (2.0)

11th

Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

11 (1.9)

12th

Jazan University, KSA

10 (1.7)

12th

Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco

10 (1.7)

12th

Al-Azhar University, Egypt.

10 (1.7)

15th

King Faisal University, KSA

9 (1.5)

15th

Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan

9 (1.5)

15th

Alexandria University, Egypt

9 (1.5)

15th

Ain Shams University, Egypt

9 (1.5)

19th

Université de Monastir, Tunisia

8 (1.4)

19th

UFR PNPE, Morocco

6 (1.0)

19th

Somali National University, Somali

6 (1.0)

19th

Scientific Research Council, Iraq

6 (1.0)

19th

Mansoura University, Egypt

6 (1.0)

19th

An-Najah National University, Palestine

6 (1.0)

Abbreviations: KSA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SCR Standard Competition Ranking, USA United States of America

aEqual institutes have the same ranking number, and then a gap is left in the ranking numbers

Discussion

This study was restricted to 591 documents retrieved from ISI Web of Knowledge, bearing Arab countries affiliation and, thus, cannot be generalized to the ICM research activity obtained by other sources such as Google Scholar or Scopus. To our knowledge, this is the first report to analyze the quality and quantity of ICM-based research from the Arab region. bibliometric indicators demonstrated that research output in the field of ICM was low in most Arab countries. The lack of industry-academia partnership in applied health research (including government-academia partnerships), and a general weakness in scientific writing may lead to the lack of scientific research in most Arab regions [14, 2931]. The total number of ICM documents found in ISI Web of Knowledge between 1980 and 2013 demonstrated a yearly increase. The annual number of documents published in the period of publication (1980–2013) indicated that research production from Arab World was low in the earliest two decades but showed a noticeable increase in the recent decade. A possible explanation for this change in publication output could be attributed to an increase in the number of specialized ICM journals indexed in ISI [1]. On the other hand, ICM research output has pursued the general growth in scientific research output observed in the recent decade and mainly in recent years [13, 5, 16, 17]. Furthermore, ICM research productivity has followed the biomedical research output in the Arab region especially in the recent decade [8, 11, 29, 30].

In the current study, the research output for each country was different in comparing to others. Our findings demonstrated that there were a few countries, such as KSA, Morocco and, Egypt where their total ICM research output was obviously superior to that in the other remaining Arab countries. Earlier studies showed that KSA and Egypt or Morocco had the highest research productivity among the Arab countries [23, 29, 32]. On the other hand, after adjusting for economic growth and population size, Somalia, Morocco, Palestine, Egypt, and Yemen demonstrated the highest research output. We didn’t find any report concerning ICM in Arab world, thus we are incapable of interpreting this result in the light of other results. On the other hand, some precious studies using the same bibliometric instrument for research assessment have demonstrated similar result [8, 14, 15, 29, 30, 33, 34]. Countries with fast growing economies such as KSA had higher number of ICM research output. Furthermore, population size is another factor related to enhance research output in the field of ICM such as in Egypt. Our results confirmed that research activity depended on economic growth, population size, or overall scientific research output of each country [15, 35].

In the current study, the average citation rate for ICM publications originating from Arab region was 16 citations per document. This result was slightly higher than the average citations of ICM journals [13, 5, 16, 17]. Overall, ICM journals have higher citation numbers in comparing to other categories in ISI Web of Knowledge [23, 36]. This is likely related to several factors. First, even if it is reasonable to argue that ICM is a growing scientific field, it is a highly competitive area in terms of scientific legitimacy [2]. Second, a great majority of the publications in our study are original research articles, and this is supported by previous studies that found that the most cited documents are reviews and original studies [2, 3, 5]. Third, the establishment of ICM as a scientific field is also manifested in increasing numbers of scientific forums that may improve opportunities to get more citations or research funds [2]. In our study, research activity related to ICM started in the 1980s and obviously increased after 2000, while the bulk of the publications (34.2 %) were published from 2011 to 2013. The publications that were published before 2000 were most frequently cited articles and there was a relationship between the number of citations and started publications year [3]. A previous study showed that highly cited publications are usually involving international collaboration and often authored by a large number of scientists [37]. The citation is used as a key indicator of research quality in the study. Highly cited publications positively correlated to the h-index of the institution and country individual author, and to individual author [3841]. Furthermore, h-index for ICM publications from Arab countries was 47. This finding was slightly higher than other scientific disciplines [36, 42], and slightly lower once compared to another scientific discipline from Arab countries [23]. One probable explanation for variations in average total citation and h-index between ICM publications of Arab countries and those for other non- ICM publications is the IF of ICM journals in which authors published their works. It is believed that articles published in high IF journals have higher possibility of being cited, whereas this is not definite [15]. The h-index is a simple way of measuring performance, impact, visibility, and quality of research. Newly published documents have a clear disadvantage because of the short publication period and they should not be compared with documents with longer publication period. Another problem is how to deal with multi-authored papers. Furthermore, in citation analysis there is a problem of how to treat self-citations. Finally, one should also be aware that a country’s h-index depends on the citation database that is used [43].

Arab authors collaborated most with authors from Europe region, especially from France and Germany, followed with authors in the Asia-Pacific region, especially from India and Pakistan. This may be because the majority Arab researchers graduated from or trained in these countries. Furthermore, recently, many PhD students from the Arab world pursued their graduate ICM education in Europe and Asia-Pacific region, where the concept of ICM is being emphasized at the research and academic levels. Research collaboration is a significant way to improve quantity and quality of research at the university level [23]. Studies have found that there is a positive correlation between research output, and international or national collaboration at the researcher level [23, 4446]. Previous studies have confirmed the significance of international collaboration in the quality of the research, which has a positive effect on citation rates [4749]. A more recent study published in the Lancet to improve medical research in the Arab world recommended that an Arab medical research council-inspired from the US National Institutes of Health, the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdome, and French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in France-is necessary to establish strategies that promote medical and health research in the Arab world in collaboration with international institutions [31].

Institutions of higher education in Arab region predominated in the most top 20 prolific institutions for research activity in ICM field; this indicates that institutions of higher education were actively researching and interesting in the ICM research. This may be attributed to universities encouragement for academics and researchers to publish their works in journals indexed in ISI database with impact factors [8, 20, 50]. Bibliometric measures is helpful in most countries to evaluate the quality and prestige of research centers and authors [51]. Research administrators use objective criteria for evaluating the performance of staff, departments and institutions-indeed entire countries. The alternative evaluation method is subjective depends on peer reviews by committees that undoubtedly has strong biases. Furthermore, using citation analysis for evaluation is not an ideal method, but after so many years it has got a level of standardization that permits one to obtain informed visions of their performance. Thus, the impact factors with the number of citations can achieve a better picture of performance. However, the journals’ impact factors become more important when evaluating a researcher’s most recent papers that have not yet been cited. In addition, the basic assumption is that if a document is published in a high impact journal, it most likely means something about the general quality of this paper. However, it is not a guarantee that it will be highly cited [51, 52].

As in any bibliometric study [8, 17, 22], the current study is not without limitations. First of all, we used Web of Science criteria for including ICM journals. Articles published in non-Web of Science-cited journals were not included; which might contribute to scientific research output. However, the 22 journals included in this study were the major international journals dedicated to the discipline of ICM. In addition, we searched only for journals included in the ICM category of JCR, however some articles in the ICM field may be published in other journals concerning ICM, with a wider field of interest, such as medicine and pharmacology. There are several databases that can be used to analyze scientific literature. Each database has its advantages and disadvantages [5356]. Such comprehensive comparison among Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus was discussed by different researchers [5356]. For the purpose of this study, Web of Science was used because it offers several advantages over PubMed and Scopus with regard to the objective of the current study. First, in Web of Science various scientific disciplines are grouped into categories based on the scope of indexed journals. For example, in Web of Science, the category “Integrative & Complementary Medicine” allows researchers to retrieve documents published in ICM category. Second, Web of Science offers a powerful analysis of data from various aspects and all data can be easily transferred to Microsoft Excel for statistical analysis or graphics. A limitation of the method of ‘citation patterns’ is that older journals or articles are more likely to have been cited more, simply due to being around longer. Another limitation is that some publications from Palestine may be affiliated with Israel because SCI do not identify Palestine as a separate country. Therefore, some publications from Palestine might be not included in our analysis.

Conclusions

Scientific research output in the ICM field in the Arab world region is increasing. Most of publications from Arab world in ICM filed were driven by societal use of medicinal plants and herbs. Search for new therapies from available low cost medicinal plants in Arab world has motivated many researchers in academia and pharmaceutical industry. Further investigation is required to support these findings in a wider journal as well as to improve research output in the field of ICM from Arab world region by investing in more national and international collaborative research project.

Abbreviations

AI: 

Adjustment index

CAM: 

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

GDP: 

Gross domestic product

ICM: 

Integrative and Complementary Medicine

ISI: 

Institute for Scientific Information

IFs: 

Impact factors

JCR: 

Journal citation report

KSA: 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

SCR: 

Standard competition ranking

SPSS: 

Statistical package for social sciences

SAR: 

Syrian Arab Republic

USA: 

United States of America

UAE: 

United Arab Emirates

Declarations

Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to An-Najah National University for help in conducting this study.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Poison Control and Drug Information Center (PCDIC), College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
(2)
Department of Clinical and Community Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
(3)
WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Information, National Poison Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia
(4)
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

References

  1. Danell JAB, Danell R. Publication activity in complementary and alternative medicine. Scientometrics. 2009;80(2):539–51.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Danell JAB: Reception of integrative and complementary medicine (ICM) in scientific journals: a citation and co-word analysis. Scientometrics. 2014;98(2):807-21.Google Scholar
  3. Tam WWS, Wong ELY, Wong FCY, Cheung AWL. Citation classics in the integrative and complementary medicine literature: 50 frequently cited articles. Eur J Integr Med. 2012;4(1):e77–83.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  4. Danell JAB. Representation and Negotiation of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Citation Context Analysis. Sci Commun. 2011;34(3):299–333.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  5. Fu JY, Zhang X, Zhao YH, Huang MH, Chen DZ. Bibliometric analysis of complementary and alternative medicine research over three decades. Scientometrics. 2011;88(2):617–26.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  6. National Institutes for Health NCfCaAMN. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What's In a Name? 2013 [cited 2014 January 5]; Available from: http://nccam.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/CAM_Basics_What_Are_CAIHA.pdf.
  7. May J. What is integrative health? BMJ. 2011;343:d4372.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Sweileh WM, Zyoud SH, Sawalha AF, Abu-Taha A, Hussein A, Al-Jabi SW. Medical and biomedical research productivity from Palestine, 2002–2011. BMC Res Notes. 2013;6:41.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Bissar-Tadmouri N, Tadmouri GO. Bibliometric analyses of biomedical research outputs in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (1988–2007). Saudi Med J. 2009;30(1):130–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Benamer HT, Bredan A, Bakoush O. Scientific publication productivity of Libyan medical schools: a bibliometric study of papers listed in PubMed, 1988–2007. Educ Health (Abingdon). 2009;22(2):310.Google Scholar
  11. Diab MM, Taftaf RM, Arabi M. Research productivity in Syria: Quantitative and qualitative analysis of current status. Avicenna J Med. 2011;1(1):4–7.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Tadmouri GO, Tadmouri NB. Biomedical research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1982–2000). Saudi Med J. 2002;23(1):20–4.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Afifi M. Egyptian biomedical publications in PubMed, 1996–2005. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2007;82(1–2):91–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Tadmouri GO, Bissar-Tadmouri N. Biomedical publications in an unstable region: the Arab world, 1988–2002. Lancet. 2003;362(9397):1766.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sweileh WM, Awang R. A bibliometric analysis of toxicology research productivity in Middle Eastern Arab countries during a 10-year period (2003–2012). Health Res Policy Syst. 2014;12(1):4.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Chiu W-T, Ho Y-S. Bibliometric analysis of homeopathy research during the period of 1991 to 2003. Scientometrics. 2005;63(1):3–23.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  17. Li XQ, Tao KM, Zhou QH, Ling CQ. Scientific publications from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in integrative and complementary medicine journals: a ten-year literature survey. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(4):639–49.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Klimo Jr P, Venable GT, Khan NR, Taylor DR, Shepherd BA, Thompson CJ, et al. Bibliometric evaluation of pediatric neurosurgery in North America. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014;14(6):695–703.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sweileh WM. Bibliometric analysis of scientific publications on waterpipe (narghile, shisha, hookah) tobacco smoking during the period 2003–2012. Tob Induc Dis. 2014;12(1):7.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sweileh WM, Awang R. A Scopus-based examination of tobacco use publications in Middle Eastern Arab countries during the period 2003–2012. Harm Reduct J. 2014;11:14.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sweileh WM. Worldwide research productivity of paracetamol (acetaminophen) poisoning: a bibliometric analysis (2003–2012). Hum Exp Toxicol. 2015;34(1):12–23.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sweileh WM, Awang R. A bibliometric analysis of research productivity of Malaysian publications in leading toxicology journals during a 10-year period (2003–2012). Hum Exp Toxicol. 2014;33(12):1284–93.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Sweileh WM, Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sawalha AF. Assessing urology and nephrology research activity in Arab countries using ISI web of science bibliometric database. BMC Res Notes. 2014;7:258.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Sweileh WM, Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sawalha AF. Bibliometric analysis of diabetes mellitus research output from Middle Eastern Arab countries during the period (1996–2012). Scientometrics. 2014;101(1):819–32.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  25. Derndorfer E, Baierl A: Multidimensional scaling (MDS). In: Mathematical and Statistical Methods in Food Science and Technology. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.; 2014:175–186.Google Scholar
  26. Everitt B, Hothorn T. An introduction to applied multivariate analysis with R. New York: Springer; 2011.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  27. Hirsch JE. An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005;102(46):16569–72.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Sayed MD. Traditional medicine in health care. J Ethnopharmacol. 1980;2(1):19–22.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Benamer HT, Bakoush O. Arab nations lagging behind other Middle Eastern countries in biomedical research: a comparative study. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2009;9:26.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Bredan A, Benamer H, Bakoush O: Visibility of Arab countries in the world biomedical literature. Libyan J Med 2011;6:6325.Google Scholar
  31. El-Azami-El-Idrissi M, Lakhdar-Idrissi M, Ouldim K, Bono W, Amarti-Riffi A, Hida M, et al. Improving medical research in the Arab world. Lancet. 2013;382(9910):2066–7.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Shaban SF, Abu-Zidan FM. A quantitative analysis of medical publications from Arab countries. Saudi Med J. 2003;24(3):294–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Cheng T, Zhang G. Worldwide research productivity in the field of rheumatology from 1996 to 2010: a bibliometric analysis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013;52(9):1630–4.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  34. Soteriades ES, Falagas ME. A bibliometric analysis in the fields of preventive medicine, occupational and environmental medicine, epidemiology, and public health. BMC Public Health. 2006;6:301.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Miro O, Montori E, Ramos X, Galicia M, Nogue S. Trends in research activity in toxicology and by toxicologists in seven European countries. Toxicol Lett. 2009;189(1):1–4.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Sweileh WM, Al-Jabi SW, Zyoud SH, Sawalha AF. Bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: research activity in Arab countries. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2014;9(1):38.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Aksnes DW. Characteristics of highly cited papers. Research Evaluation. 2003;12(3):159–70.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  38. Plomp R. The highly cited papers of professors as an indicator of a research group's scientific performance. Scientometrics. 1994;29(3):377–93.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  39. Aksnes DW, Sivertsen G. The effect of highly cited papers on national citation indicators. Scientometrics. 2004;59(2):213–24.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  40. Aksnes DW. Citation rates and perceptions of scientific contribution. J Am Soc Inf Sci Tec. 2006;57(2):169–85.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  41. Fowler JH, Aksnes DW. Does self-citation pay? Scientometrics. 2007;72(3):427–37.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  42. Sweileh WM, Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Sawalha AF. Quantity and quality of obesity-related research in Arab countries: assessment and comparative analysis. Health Res Policy Syst. 2014;12(1):33.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Egghe L. The Hirsch index and related impact measures. Annu Rev Inform Sci Technol. 2010;44(1):65–114.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  44. Bordons M, Gómez I, Fernández MT, Zulueta MA, Méndez A. Local, Domestic and International Scientific Collaboration in Biomedical Research. Scientometrics. 1996;37(2):279–95.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  45. Bozeman B, Corley E. Scientists' collaboration strategies: implications for scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy. 2004;33(4):599–616.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  46. Wagner CS. Six case studies of international collaboration in science. Scientometrics. 2005;62(1):3–26.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  47. Huamani C, Rey De Castro J, Gonzalez-Alcaide G, Polesel DN, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Scientific research in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: bibliometric analysis in SCOPUS, 1991–2012. Sleep Breath. 2015;19(1):109–14.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Luo J, Flynn JM, Solnick RE, Ecklund EH, Matthews KR. International stem cell collaboration: how disparate policies between the United States and the United Kingdom impact research. PLoS One. 2011;6(3):e17684.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Gonzalez-Alcaide G, Huamani C, Park J, Ramos JM. Evolution of coauthorship networks: worldwide scientific production on leishmaniasis. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2013;46(6):719–27.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Zainal H, Zainab AN. Biomedical and health sciences publication productivity from Malaysia. Health Info Libr J. 2011;28(3):216–25.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Garfield E. The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. JAMA. 2006;295(1):90–3.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Garfield E. The meaning of the impact factor. Int J Clin Health Psychol. 2003;3(2):363–9.Google Scholar
  53. Tadmouri GO, Bissar-Tadmouri N. A major pitfall in the search strategy on PubMed. Saudi Med J. 2004;25(1):7–10.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Falagas ME, Pitsouni EI, Malietzis GA, Pappas G. Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB J. 2008;22(2):338–42.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Kulkarni AV, Aziz B, Shams I, Busse JW. Comparisons of citations in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar for articles published in general medical journals. JAMA. 2009;302(10):1092–6.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. de Granda-Orive JI, Alonso-Arroyo A, Roig-Vazquez F. Which data base should we use for our literature analysis? Web of Science versus SCOPUS. Arch Bronconeumol. 2011;47(4):213.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright

© Zyoud et al. 2015

Advertisement