Cover: Bibliometric Analysis of Mental Health Research

Bibliometric Analysis of Mental Health Research


Published May 26, 2016

by Vincent Larivière, Jonathan Grant

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Research Questions

  1. What is the mental health research productivity of nations in the G20?
  2. What is the relative intensity of mental health research carried out in the G20?
  3. What is the level of mental health research (clinical or basic) carried out by the G20?
  4. What levels of scientific impact does mental health research in the G20 achieve?
  5. What levels of collaboration are there in mental health research in the G20?

This report presents the findings of a bibliometric study of mental health research papers published from 1980 to 2008. The aim of this study was to map mental health research in the G20 and other leading countries in order to analyse i) the research productivity of nations; ii) the relative intensity of research; iii) the level of research (clinical or basic); iv) levels of scientific impact; and v) levels of collaboration. The work presented in this paper is the result of a collaboration between Observatoire des sciences et des technologies in Montreal and RAND Europe.

Key Findings

  • The volume of mental health research publication output is growing faster than that in biomedicine or science as a whole.
  • There is a convergence in the volume of mental health research publication output between the US and Europe, with the recent emergence of mental health research publication output in the BRIC countries.
  • Smaller countries such as Sweden, Israel, The Netherlands and Finland are the most productive in terms of number of publications per capita.
  • Countries with greater specialisation in mental health research, such as the US, the UK, Canada and The Netherlands, generally have higher scientific impact.
  • Spain, France, South Korea, Japan and Turkey obtain fewer citations than the world average for mental health publications and publish fewer mental health publications than one would expect, given the volume of their overall publication output.
  • Over the last 25 years, we observe a tendency towards publishing more basic research outputs in mental health. The only exception to this is The Netherlands.
  • Mental health research publications are increasingly the result of international collaboration. While 3% of all mental health papers published in 1980 was the result of an international collaboration, that percentage was 20% in 2008.
  • Countries/regions with a relatively large volume of research output — such as the US, the EU and Japan — tend to obtain relatively low international collaboration rates. This is not surprising as it is more difficult for researchers from a bigger country to find collaborators outside their borders.
  • The strongest bilateral relationship in mental health research is between Canada and the US, followed by the UK and the US, Germany and the US, and Italy and the US.
  • We observe a strong growth of research on autism, anxiety, bipolar disorders, hyperactivity, memory, schizophrenia, sleep and stress since the early 1980s.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for The Science of Science for Mental Health Research Network (SOS for Mental Health) and the Graham Boeckh Foundation and conducted by RAND Europe.

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