Author

Addiction Research Centre, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. Medical Toxicology Centre, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

Abstract

Background: In recent decades, the science of toxicology in Asia Pacific (AP) region has been expanding. In this study, the productivity of the science of toxicology in the timeframe of the years 1996 to 2013 in AP region was evaluated and was compared with Northern America (NA) region.  
Methods: The SCImago portal was accessed to obtain the scientific indicators of toxicology science. The subject category of "toxicology" was used. In the SCImago portal, the AP region is divided into three sub-regions, Asiatic (AS), Pacific (PA) and Middle East (ME). To standardize the results, number of documents and citations of AP sub-regions in each time point were divided by their corresponding information from NA region.
Results: In 1996, 3674 toxicology documents were published from NA region while in the same time 1308 documents were published from AS, 130 from PA and 144 from ME. These figures increased to 3985, 3893, 354 and 788 in the year 2013. While the total number of publications per year remained relatively stable in NA region over this 18-year period, this figure increased for AS and PA regions by about 3 times and for ME by about 5 times. The number of citations in the field of toxicology in AS, ME and PA regions, however, is still far behind NA. The percentage of toxicology documents that were produced through international collaboration in PA region was considerably higher than NA, AS and ME regions.
Conclusion: The productivity of toxicology science in AP region has been increased over the past 18 years, though the level of citations is low compared to NA countries. International collaborations should be seriously considered and strengthen in AP countries.

Keywords

How to cite this article: Afshari R. Scientometric Analysis of Toxicology in Asia Pacific Region: Signs of Growth. Asia Pac J Med Toxicol 2014;3:92-6.

Introduction

Each aspect of science including toxicology (medical and basic) is growing worldwide. In order to have a better understanding, it is important to evaluate the trend of science production and the impact of scientific literature through the time, and to compare geographical regions with each other (1), in a process that is called scientometrics. Although scientometric analysis (SA) is useful to appreciate the evolution of science, its output is controversial. SA can produce surrogates of science production, and make science production comparative and competitive. Nevertheless, SA may sacrifice quality at the expense of quantity of scientific products and may encourage publishing low-quality papers, or even discourages production of applied science that is less likely to be cited. 

In recent decades, the science of toxicology in Asia Pacific (AP) region has been expanding as the infrastructures of this science has been established and developed (2,3). In this study, the productivity of the science of toxicology in AP region was evaluated over the period of the past 18 years and was compared with Northern America (NA) region.   

Methods

The SCImago portal that includes scientific indicators developed from the information by the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands) was accessed to obtain the scientific indicators of toxicology science (4). As no subject category for "medical toxicology" or "clinical toxicology" was available in this portal, the subject category of "toxicology" was alternatively used.

The establishment of medical toxicology in AP region is in part relied upon the activities of Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology (APAMT) that brings prominent medical toxicologists together and acts as a platform to share their capabilities and knowledge. In the SCImago portal, the area related to the APAMT is divided into three sub-regions, Asiatic (AS), Pacific (PA) and Middle East (ME). It should be noted that scientific documents of Turkey, Egypt and Israeli State are illustrated in output of the ME region in SCImago, though they are not included in the APAMT. For comparing growth ratios, Northern America (NA) region was considered as the baseline. The analysis was done on the timeframe of the years 1996 to 2013. To standardize the results, number of documents and citations of AP sub-regions in each time point were divided by their corresponding information from NA region. Country ranking of toxicology science production in the AP region was also reported independently.

Results

Science production

In 1996, only one Asian country (Japan; which was ranked 2nd) was among the first 7 productive countries in toxicology science. However, up to 2013 the spectrum has drastically shifted towards Asia, in which 4 out of 7 leading countries were Asian including China (2nd), India (3rd), Japan (5th) and South Korea (7th).  

AP sub-regions:  In 1996, 3674 documents were published from NA region while in the same time, 1308 documents were published from AS, 130 from PA and 144 from ME. These figures increased to 3985, 3893, 354 and 788 in the year 2013 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Number of documents in the field of toxicology per year in each region. SCImago Research Group [image on the Internet]. 2014 [cited 2014 Aug 9]. Available from: http://www.scimagojr.com

While the total number of publications per year remained relatively stable in NA region over this 18-year period, these figures increased for AS and PA regions by about 3 times and for ME by about 5 times. When the figures of AP sub-regions in each year were standardized based on NA region, a similar pattern existed (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Ratio of toxicology science production in Asia Pacific region to Northern America region (Documents per year in each Asia Pacific sub-regions/Documents per year in Northern America region × 100)

The number of citations in the field of toxicology in AS, ME and PA regions, however, is still far behind NA (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Number of citations in the field of toxicology per year in each region. SCImago Research Group [image on the Internet]. 2014 [cited 2014 Aug 9]. Available from:http://www.scimagojr.com

When the NA standardized citation figures of AP sub-regions were considered, a similar pattern to number of documents was observed (Figure 4 vs. 2). The pattern of these increments; however, were not reflected in the citation per documents. It is also worth mentioning that 2013 H-indices in toxicology stood at 253 in NA, 133 in AS, 92 in PA and 79 in ME.

Figure 4. Ratio of citations in the field of toxicology in Asia Pacific region to Northern America region (Citations per year in each Asia Pacific sub-regions/Citations per year in Northern America region × 100)

Country-wise: The ranking of AP countries in production of toxicology science is shown in table 1. As can be seen, ten leading countries were as follow [country (number of documents; 2013 H-index)]: Japan (12223; 107), China (9693; 83), India (8046; 75), South Korea (4402; 67), Australia (3164; 85), Taiwan (2704; 65), Iran (1351; 40), Hong Kong (793; 57), New Zealand (708; 50) and Thailand (536; 34). It should be noted that the ranks will be slightly changed when the H-index is taken into account instead of number of documents. 


Table 1. Country rankings of toxicology science production in countries related to the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology from 1996 to 2013 (Retrieved from: http://www.scimagojr.com)

Rank

Country

Sub-region

Documents

Citations

H-index

1

Japan

AS

12,223

154,125

107

2

China

AS

9,693

83,747

83

3

India

AS

8,046

73,902

75

4

South Korea

AS

4,402

44,255

67

5

Australia

PA

3,164

56,414

85

6

Taiwan

AS

2,704

35,572

65

7

Iran

ME

1,351

10,272

40

8

Hong Kong

AS

793

15,666

57

9

New Zealand

PA

708

12,314

50

10

Thailand

AS

536

5,547

34

11

Saudi Arabia

ME

487

4,039

30

12

Malaysia

AS

477

3,254

28

13

Pakistan

AS

316

2,869

25

14

Singapore

AS

309

5,099

36

15

United Arab Emirates

ME

196

2,512

24

16

Lebanon

ME

115

1,693

22

17

Bangladesh

AS

111

1,056

18

18

Sri Lanka

AS

109

817

14

19

Jordan

ME

103

1,258

17

20

Kuwait

ME

98

908

18

21

Vietnam

AS

85

1,133

20

22

Indonesia

AS

76

1,012

17

23

Philippines

AS

64

1,207

20

24

Uzbekistan

AS

53

121

7

25

Oman

ME

48

776

13

26

Qatar

ME

35

165

7

27

Palestine

ME

33

212

8

28

Iraq

ME

32

136

8

29

Nepal

AS

24

107

6

30

French Polynesia

PA

19

337

10

31

Syria

ME

19

193

8

32

New Caledonia

PA

17

224

9

33

Kazakhstan

AS

13

51

5

34

Yemen

ME

12

162

6

35

Cambodia

AS

10

228

7

36

Macao

AS

9

32

3

37

Mongolia

AS

9

27

3

38

Guam

PA

8

55

4

39

Bahrain

ME

8

13

2

40

North Korea

AS

7

115

4

41

Papua New Guinea

PA

7

48

4

42

Fiji

PA

5

29

3

43

Afghanistan

AS

5

27

3

44

Tajikistan

AS

5

19

1

45

Laos

AS

4

45

3

46

Kyrgyzstan

AS

4

5

1

 

47

Brunei

AS

3

126

3

 

48

Myanmar

AS

2

11

2

 

50

Micronesia

PA

1

23

1

 

51

Tonga

PA

1

14

1

 

52

Vanuatu

PA

1

9

1

 

53

Northern Mariana Islands

AS

1

2

1

 

54

Bhutan

AS

1

1

1

 

55

Cook Islands

PA

1

0

0

 

 International collaboration

International collaboration has played a key role in growth of the science. The percentage of toxicology documents that were produced through international collaboration (documents whose affiliation includes more than one country address) for each AP sub-region is shown in figure 5.

As can be seen, international collaboration in PA region is considerably higher than NA, AS and ME regions. Moreover, in this 18-year period (from 1996 to 2013), international collaboration increased in NA (from 15.2% to 29.8%), PA (from 28.5% to 51.7%) and AS (from 11.9% to 19.1%) regions while it was relatively stable in ME region (from 27.1% to 27.0%).

Discussion

The majority of the 7 most science productive countries in the field of toxicology in 2013 are from AP region. Number of documents in the field of toxicology in AP region has already overtaken NA. Within AP region, ME and PA sub-regions are far behind AS. The growth rate in science production as well as citations was higher in AS followed by ME and PA regions.

One of the goals of the APAMT is "the growth of the science of medical toxicology in the AP region" (2). Regarding the number of documents, it seems that this goal has been better achieved in this region compared to NA region, a fact that should be celebrated. However, for improvement of the level of citations much work should be done.

Production of science could be attributed to two independent variables including (a) structural and (b) contextual factors. In terms of structure, AP region is still expanding as the number of medical schools, toxicology graduates, journals and other infrastructure develop, hence the fast-paced growth of toxicology science. Nevertheless, the extent of science production in NA region was shown to be stable or in a better word settled. This is probably due to the fact that this region has already reached a certain level of development in science and the related infrastructures, which can be called "ceiling effect of science production quantity". Similar to NA, PA region has structurally achieved a certain level of development. Yet, in context, PA region has been successful in maintaining widespread international collaborations. Over 50% of PA documents are coauthored by scientists from other regions. This is what helped the scientific growth in PA region to be still increasing, which can be attributed to a phenomenon named "the rise of the rest" (5). It has been proven that the impact of papers produced by international collaborations is higher compared to papers authored solely by researchers of a single country (6). PA collaborative activities should therefore be taken as a model for entire AP region and in particular ME countries. These countries should "elevate themselves with the rest" to narrow the gaps and reach to the potential ceiling. It should be kept in mind that scientific south-south collaboration in conjunction with north-south collaboration would help to increase the rate of citations and in general the development of medical toxicology in the AP region (7).

Conclusion

The productivity of toxicology science in AP region has been increased over the past 18 years, though the level of citations is far behind NA countries. International collaborations should be seriously considered and strengthen in AP countries. This forum is open for further discussions in next issues of the journal.

Acknowledgment

I would like to acknowledge the effective inputs of Dr. Seyed Mostafa Monzavi. 

 

Conflict of interest: The author is currently serving as the president of the APAMT. 

Funding and support: None.

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