Document Type : Original research paper
1 Department of Infection Diseases, Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Faculty of Medicine, Canakkale, Turkey
2 Serpil Oğuz Mızrakçı Gaziantep Liv Hospital, Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Gaziantep, Turkey
Rabies is a deadly viral infection for which there is still no definitive cure. Many researchers are making publications on this subject. The current study used bibliometric techniques to examine the rabies literature and highlighted current rabies research trends as well as prospective future hotspots for rabies research. In this bibliometric study, all data were retrieved from the Web of Science Science Citation Index-Expanded (SCI-E) database on January 1, 2023, using the selected terms ("rabies virus" [MeSH Terms] OR "rabies virus" [Text Word] OR "rabies" [MeSH Terms] OR "rabies" [Text Word]) in the title field of the search engine. The search was further narrowed by the document type (article), language (English), and year of publication (1992–2022). According to the used search strategy, we reached a total of 5973 articles. The average number of citations per document was 21.3. Over 300 articles per year were published in the years 2020, 2021, 2019, 2018, and 2017. The rabies literature was written by authors from 158 different countries. The main countries with the highest number of articles on rabies were the USA, China, and France. Germany, India, Brazil, England, Japan, and Canada Research collaboration and cooperation between institutions and researchers in developing countries need to be supported by developed countries. The analysis provides information on the overall situation of rabies research worldwide. The analysis also provides a better understanding of the trends in rabies development over the past 30 years, which can serve as a scientific benchmark for subsequent studies.
Keywords: Article, Bibliometric analysis, Rabies, Zoonotic disease.
Bibliometrics, also known as network analysis, is a relatively new field that emerged as a research front in information science in order to study the development of literature in a field as well as other quantitative aspects of literature (Askar et al., 2021; Onturk et al., 2021; Sachithanantham and Raja, 2015). For many years, the method of network analysis (NA) has been employed in a variety of fields, including the social sciences. Until recently, NA was rarely used in studies of medication use (Askar et al., 2021; Ntürk et al., 2021; Uyar et al., 202). The number of quantitative analyses published on rabies is quite limited (Kabeto et al., 2021; Sachithanantham and Raja, 2015; Takahashi-Omoe and Omoe, 2014).
Rabies is a deadly zoonotic disease that is frequently present throughout the world and affects the central nervous system of all warm-blooded animals. It is brought on by the rabies virus, which is a member of the Lyssavirus genus (Lyssa means "madness"), the Rhabdoviridae family, and the Mononegavirales order. The deadly disease rabies is endemic in developing nations and kills thousands of people every year, with more than 95% of the victims coming from Africa and Asia (Kabeto et al., 2021). The majority of human rabies cases (99%) are caused by infected dogs (often domestic dogs), whose saliva contains the rabies virus that causes the disease. Other wild animals, such as bats, foxes, jackals, mongooses, skunks, and raccoons, cause a small percentage of rabies cases (Ahmad et al., 2021). The development of pre- and post-prophylactic vaccines has reduced the prevalence of rabies worldwide (Briggs DJ, 2012). Despite huge financial investments, rabies is still a serious health issue that goes largely undetected in many nations (Pantha et al., 2020). Since Louis Pasteur and his colleagues developed the first basic nerve tissue vaccines in 1885, rabies vaccines have continuously evolved. Currently, 10 vaccine regimens are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and/or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis in humans. These vaccines are safe and effective for both people and animals. Dog rabies, which accounts for 98% of all human rabies deaths worldwide, must be reduced by the use of rabies vaccines. However, eliminating rabies in the animal species that serve as reservoirs is impossible without an intersectoral strategy involving cooperation between experts in animal and human health (Briggs, 2012). The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), and the WHO approved a plan in December 2015 to eradicate canine-mediated rabies from humans by the year 2030 (WHO, 2015). The Global Strategic Plan to Finish the Human Deaths from Dog-Mediated Rabies by 2030 has as one of its primary short-term outcomes the development of evidence-based tools and strategies for efficient dog vaccination. Economic analyses show that these canine marionettes should be included in vaccination programs to guarantee the best possible control of rabies in lower-middle-income countries with considerable dog populations (WHO, 2019).
The variability and inconsistent quality of scholarly data may make it difficult for scientists or physicians to review all of the material that is now accessible, despite the fact that many research publications on rabies have been published during the previous few decades. As a result, analyzing the literature on rabies using advanced mathematical methods might offer profound insights into the performance of worldwide research as well as the collaborative architectural structure within the rabies scientific community. The current study used bibliometric techniques to examine the rabies literature and highlighted current rabies research trends as well as prospective future hotspots for rabies research.
This study is a retrospective bibliometric study.
Sources of Data and Search Strategy
A data pool was established after duplicate articles were eliminated. From the data pool, only the original articles were taken. At the same time, additional analyses of other kinds of publications-including book chapters, meeting abstracts, scientific letters, editorial papers, and corrections were forgone. Unrelated articles were eliminated after manually reviewing the article titles and abstracts.
All data were retrieved from the Web of Science (Wos)’ Science Citation Index-Expanded (SCI-E) database (https://webofknowledge.com/) via Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Library on January 1, 2023, using the following search terms: ("rabies virus" [MeSH Terms] OR rabies virus [Text Word] OR "rabies"[MeSH Terms] OR rabies [Text Word]) in the title field of search engine. The Wos database is the most popular and commonly used database for the examination of scientific publications, and it offers comprehensive publishing data. The search was further narrowed by the document type (article), language (English), year of publication (1992-2022), and WoS index (SCI-E).
Publications were sorted and methodically evaluated by country, journal, year of publication, the field of study, authors, and affiliations. Additionally, a network analysis of the advancement of rabies research was conducted, which involved evaluating the frequency of terms collected from the publications.
For additional evaluation and analysis, the data were transferred into a Microsoft Excel 2019 Sheet. Using the VOSviewer software program version 1.6.18, the network visualization mapping (co-authorship countries, co-occurrence of all keywords, and countries citations) was created (Center for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University, Netherlands). The number of articles in which two keywords appear together is shown by their co-occurrence. The number of articles with the associated keywords is shown by the size of the circles in the VOSviewer figure. The strength of the connections between the circles represents how frequently two keywords appear together. The average of the link strengths for the term over all other keywords is the overall link strength.
There were 8430 articles between 1970-2022 in the SCI-E index of the WoS database on rabies according to the search criteria. The first publications were published in the 1970s. Since we only wanted to evaluate the last 30 years in the study, we accepted 1992 as the starting year, and 5973 publications were included in the study. This 5973 publications cited 21.3 per document and produced by 16042 authors. The main features of the articles are summarized in Table 1. Over 300 articles per year were published in the years 2020,2021,2019,2018, and 2017, which are the years with the most publications. Figure 2 shows the distriubition of publications and citations between 1992 -2022. The main features of the top-cited articles on rabies published between 1992 and 2022 are given in Table 2.
The rabies literature was written by authors from 158 different countries. The top countries with the highest number of articles on rabies were the USA (n = 1609, 26.938%), China (n = 815, 13.645%), France (n = 571, 9.560%), Germany (n = 465, 7.785%), India (n= 440, 7.366%), Brazil (n= 417, 6.981%), England (n= 389, 6.513%), Japan (n = 372, 6.228%), and Canada (n = 303, 5.073%). The global map of the publications is given in Figure 3. The rabies literature was published by 4886 organizations and institutions. The Pasteur Institute published most of the articles (n = 517). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) and Udice-French Research Universities were also mostly publishing under other affiliations (Table 3).
The analysis of funding sources revealed that the top 10 funders are from China, the USA, European countries, and Japan (Table 4). There were 118 countries with a minimum of five articles among 186 publishing countries. The co-authorship analysis between 118 countries is given in Figure 4. There were 7226 keywords, with 451 appearing more than five times. The majority of the keywords are summarized in Table 5. There were 16 clusters and 4473 links, and the total link strength was 10737. Figure 5 depicts the keyword analysis of the articles on rabies. The keywords most frequently used were "rabies" (859 times), "rabies virus" (250 times), and "vaccination" (113 times) (Table 5). There were 7 clusters and 3596 links, and the total link strength was 82732. Figure 6 depicts the citation analysis between countries. The "Vaccine" journal was the leading journal on rabies research (n = 316, 5.290%), followed by "Physical Review A" (n = 219, 3.666%) and "PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases" (n = 202, 3.382%) journals.
It has been stated that bibliometrics and visualization are crucial tools for assessing scientific research and are the crucial means to identify infectious disease epidemics (Ogunsakin et al., 2022). This comment is accurate given the current state of affairs, in which healthcare professionals are exchanging large volumes of information (Ogunsakin et al., 2022). Similar to this, bibliometrics is typically employed in a variety of disciplines to evaluate scientific research both statistically and qualitatively (Alkan and Evlice, 2022; Ekici et al., 2022; Ogunsakin et al., 2022). Our study used bibliometrics and visualization techniques to assess rabies-related publications and citations, countries, and authors' influence. To the best of our knowledge, this is the second bibliometric study on rabies research after the previous study (Sachithanantham and Raja, 2015), in which 5973 published articles were accessed and analyzed.
Most cases of rabies are found in Asia and Africa. It has been reported that 99% of all human rabies cases are caused by dogs, which are the main source of transmission of rabies. Both in dogs and humans, rabies is a disease that is preventable by vaccination (Ahmad et al., 2021; Kabeto et al., 2021). One of the key short-term outcomes of the Global Strategic Plan to End Human Deaths from Canine Rabies by 2030 is to ensure the development of effective and evidence-based strategies for canine vaccination. In low- and middle-income countries with large dog populations, dog vaccination campaigns are recommended to ensure the best possible control of rabies. However, this population segment is divided regarding the most effective evidence-based vaccination strategies (Anderson et al., 2019; Arega et al., 2020). However, one of the major vaccination challenges in low- and middle-income countries, where this disease is prevalent, is the withdrawal of exposed individuals in the middle of the vaccination schedule; as a result, they continue to be at high risk of contracting the rabies virus (Ashwath et al., 2014). The research presented here is the first bibliometric analysis of rabies to identify recent trends in research and publication between 1992 and 2022. A critical assessment of funding requests and potential research trends may be beneficial for the academic community, governmental agencies, researchers, policymakers, and donors. According to our results, the top countries with the highest number of articles on rabies were the USA and other developed countries. This might be the case as a result of increased financing for research and the sensitivity of a government's issue. While year-by-year publication trends have been inconsistent over the past three decades, the years with the most publications were 2020, 2021, 2019, 2018, and 2017. In addition, although the number of publications is irregular, both the number of publications and citations have been on an increasing trend, especially in the last 10 years. Also, the funding sources clearly indicate that the top 10 funding agencies were from China, the USA, European countries, and Japan. It can be due to the sensitive nature of the topic in global or financing accessibility in the research field to further the work leading to publications. There were very few publications and funding sponsorships from developing countries other than India and other countries where the disease is endemic. African countries did not appear in the top-productive countries where the disease is endemic.
The Pasteur Institute, one of the institutions dedicated to eradicating rabies, published 8.656% of all publications, followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provided 7.467% of the total. This can be because corporations and institutions are concentrating on and giving particular research issues top importance. As rabies is a global public health issue that is highly valued by both the WHO and the CDC, these organizations have also published a significant number of papers on rabies.
In addition, the analysis of the journals with the highest number of publications on rabies can be a reference for those working on this subject in the selection of journals. The most cited articles can also provide ideas to the researchers of this subject in their studies.
The VOSViewer software is used to build a bibliometric map of the associations between countries based on co-authorship (Figure 4, Figure 6). The leading authors are from the United States (n=1609, 26.938%), China (n=815, 13.645%), France (n=571, 9.560%), Germany (n=465,7.785%), India (n=440,7.366%), Brazil (n=417,6.981%), England (n=389, 6.513%), Japan (n=372, 6.228%), and Canada (n=303, 5.073%). The minimum and maximum number of documents per nation are specified at five and twenty-five, respectively. We used "authors" as the unit of analysis for analyzing bibliographic coupling, which refers to how likely it is for authors to cite other works that are comparable to their own. The number of authors who met the threshold was 7609 after one was selected as the minimum number of documents for each author. When "countries" were used as the unit of analysis for citation analysis, 118 countries met the criteria of having at least five documents from one country. Additionally, the Vosviewer map's display of the clusters with related research interests demonstrated the rabies research. The USA, England, Germany, France, and other European nations make up the biggest node. The co-occurrence analysis of "author keywords" showed that of the 7226 keywords, 451 appeared more than five times. The keywords most frequently used were "rabies" (859 times), "rabies virus" (250 times), and "vaccination" (113 times).
This study has several limitations, including the following: only two search terms were used, and the documents were refined by year, document type, and language based on studies that were not included in the final analysis. The data were retrieved from a single database (the WoS database) and the SCIE index. Additionally, only articles were examined. Additionally, despite their rarity, publications in other languages that might be helpful in addressing this topic were undervalued in this research. However, despite these limitations, this study is a welcome contribution to the literature as the incidence of zoonoses, including rabies, is increasing as a result of changing climatic conditions and greater interference with natural ecosystems, and humans are in more direct contact with animals. It is also important because it reflects the last 30 years of rabies studies and emphasizes the need to support studies in low-income countries and countries where rabies cases are endemic.
This study may benefit academics, researchers, and clinicians by offering pertinent bibliographic data that will be important for predicting future research trends. Research collaboration and cooperation between institutions and researchers in developing countries need to be strengthened with developed countries. The highest number of studies was produced in the USA, China, France, Germany, India, Brazil, England, Japan, and Canada. The studies from highly endemic countries were limited.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no conflicts of interest