Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Scientometric study of academic publications on antioxidative herbal medicines in type 2 diabetes mellitus | Journal of Diabetes

 Source: https://jdmdonline.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40200-016-0273-3

Open Access

Scientometric study of academic publications on antioxidative herbal medicines in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Contributed equally
Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders201615:48
DOI: 10.1186/s40200-016-0273-3
Received: 1 September 2016
Accepted: 11 October 2016
Published: 21 October 2016



Scientometric analysis is
increasingly used for research assessment. We aimed to perform a
scientometric analysis of research productivity in field of
antioxidative hypoglycemic herbal medicine and diabetes.


Some of search terms were
“type 2 diabetes”, “antioxidant”, “herb”, “phytotherapy”,
“ethnopharmacology”, “Chinese medicine”, “traditional medicine”, in
Scopus web databases until January 2015, and limited to human. The
collected data were used to generate the specific features such as
publication year, main journal in the field, citation, subject area, and
co-authorship network of authors and institutes. Data was analyzed
using analysis tools provided by Scopus database, SPSS version 11 and
VOSviewer software.


Overall, 468 studies were
related to this topic in human. The number of publications in the field
showed an increasing trend. Majority of the published papers were
original articles (71 %) and the most productive year was 2013. Top
subject areas were medicine followed by drug. The first productive
country was the US. The documents were cited totally 10724 times with
average citation/article 22.91, and h-index 55. The highest cited
article was a systematic review study, and top source was “Journal of
Ethnopharmacology”. The highest international collaboration was with the
US. Top authors and institutes in the co-authorship network assessment
were from Iran.


A promising scientific
productivity is shown in the studied field world wide. This study
provided practical information to researchers who look for studies with
potentially highly citation, and also would be helpful for researchers
to conduct better researches that eventually could lead to more
publications in this field.


Herbal medicine
Diabetes mellitus
Scientometric analysis


prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus (DM), as a major health problem, is
increasing worldwide. International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in its
last report stated that the number of diabetic patients will reach from
415 million in 2015 to 642 million in 2040 [1].
Many novel synthetic drugs have been developed in recent years for
treatment of DM; however, their usage is limited due to adverse effects,
high cost as well as limited accessibility in many countries [2].
These facts make it logic to consider alternative treatments such as
herbal medicine for the management of diabetes. Evidences in both
developing and developed countries have shown that this kind of therapy
has increasing popularity and usage [3, 4, 5, 6].
However, there has been no systematic analysis of scientific trends in
this field. The bibliometric method as a reliable and practical method
can measure, evaluate, and analyze the scientific advance and also
determine the current research directions in a specific field [7].
Many indicators are suggested as an index for evaluation of scientific
research; however main focuses are on numbers of published papers in a
specific field and numbers of their citation [7].
Some of other important indicators are collaboration in research
conduct and scientific publications or collaboration in research centers
[8, 9].
However, to design a good preventive program and also to determine the
safety and efficacy of herbal medicine in the management of type 2 DM
(T2DM), scientific evidences provided by scientific papers and reports
are needed [2, 4, 6, 10]. Since, oxidative stress is known as the main underlying pathology of diabetes and its complications [11, 12, 13],
the scientometric analysis of academic publications on antioxidative
hypoglycemic herbal medicines would be important not only to the
scientific community for recognition of trends in herbal medicine in
order to design appropriate prevention programs, but also for
researchers to recognize the highly cited studies in order to conduct
studies with strong evidences. Considering above points, we aimed to
perform a scientometric analysis of scholarly products in antioxidative
herbal medicines used for management of T2DM.


Data source

descriptive bibliometric study of scholarly published articles covering
the role of antioxidative hypoglycemic herbal medicine in the
management of T2DM was conducted. For this mention the Scopus web
databases available at http://www.scopus.com/
was chosen. The reasons for choosing this database includes: high
multidisciplinary coverage, especially in health and biomedicine
disciplines, high coverage of citation reports, and availability of
different analysis tools [8, 9].

Search strategies

find relevant studies, we chose the best and most related key words
according to the list of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) provided by the
National Library of Medicine (NLM)/PubMed. Our search terms were “type 2
diabetes”, “NIDDM”, “hyperglycemia”, “glucose”, “antioxidant”,
“antioxidative”, “plant*”, “herb*”, “component”, “phytotherapy”,
“ethnopharmacology”, “naturopathy”, “Chinese medicine”, “herbal
medicine”, and “traditional medicine”. The ‘*’ is a wildcard that can
take any value. All relevant available academic studies, including
review articles, original articles, case reports, conference abstracts,
and letters, conducted to assess the effects of antioxidative
hypoglycemic herbal medicine in the management of T2DM in human and
published before January 2015 were included in the analysis. After
assessment the title and abstract of enrolled papers, and exclusion
duplicated articles, studies that conducted in children, pregnant women,
patients with type 1 DM, or animal studies were also excluded. No
language restriction was used. Finally, 468 documents remained for

Data analysis

The impact factors (IF) of the journals were retrieved from the Journal Citation Report (JCR) available at http://scientific.thomson.com/products/jcr.
While the impact of a journal is often judged by its IF, the numbers of
a given article cited by other investigators reflect the importance of
that paper [14].
IF as a quantitative indicator is used to assess, compare, and rank the
scientific publications in different scientific areas. We investigated
SCImago journal rank (SJR) in addition to IF. SJR in fact is a measure
of scientific influence of scholarly journals that not only includes the
number of citations received by a journal, similar to IF, but also
accounts for the importance of the journals where such citations come
from. IF and SJR are indicators which used to estimate above mentions
for extracting data of ISI or Scopus web databases, respectively.
The h-Index
of authors which is based on the highest number of included papers
having at least the same number of citations was extracted from Scopus.
The h-graph displays the h-index for a single or multiple authors, or a group of selected documents. The h-graph
for a group of selected documents measures the impact of a set of
documents and shows the number of citations per document [15]. The h-index could be used as a measure of research performance quality [15, 16].
Further characteristics of the collected data, including: publication
year, the main source (journal) in the field, author’s name and,
affiliation, geographical distribution (country/territory), document’s
type and language, subject area, and citations were retrieved from
Scopus and analyzed using the ‘Analyze search results’ function provided
by the Scopus database.
468 target results with all available information retrieved from the
Scopus database in CSV format. Then the CSV file was converted to Web of
Science (ISI WOS) plain text (wos.txt) through scopus.exe and
scop2wos.exe tools (http://www.leydesdorff.net/scopus_ovl/). Intcoll software (http://www.leydesdorff.net/software/intc)
was used for assessment of studies with international collaboration. To
do this, the plain text file was first imported to Intcoll and then
results were imported to Pajek software (http://pajek.imfm.si) and visualized. The Scopus CSV file was also imported to VOSviewer free software (www.vosviewer.com/)
to visualize the co-authorship network of authors and institutes in the
field. The two views (label view and density view) out of four views
(label views, density views, cluster density view and scattered view) of
VOSviewer were applied in this research. The label view uses the matrix
of terms “co-occurrence frequencies” and is particularly useful for a
detailed examination of a map. The density view is particularly useful
to have an overview of the general structure of a map in order to draw
attention to its most important areas. Spearman’s test was used to
determine the correlation between number of documents published by a
country and total and average citations to them using the SPSS (version
11) (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, US).


The trend of annual publications over time is depicted in Fig. 1.
The most productive year was 2013 with 74 published documents
(15.82 %). The weakest results came from 1997 and 1998 in which just one
document per year was published. It is shown a pike in number of
published articles in 2006 and 2011 compared to previous years.
Fig. 1
Time-trend in number of published documents in studied field

our analyzed paper, 328 were original articles (70.1 %), 116 were
review articles (24.8 %), and 24 (5.1 %) were classified in a
miscellaneous group.
subject areas of the documents, the top subject area was medicine with
228 documents (61.5 %) followed by pharmacology/toxicology/pharmaceutics
(167 documents, 35.7 %) and biochemistry/genetics/molecular biology
(157 documents, 33.5 %).
The most of the documents were published in English (93.6 %).
retrieved data were analyzed by the country, the United States with 84
documents (17.95 %), India with 51 (10.9 %), China with 48 (10.25 %),
and Iran with 46 documents (9.82 %) were the most productive countries
in regard to number of published documents. According to the number of
citations, the United States with 3452 citations (30.21 %) was ranked
first and the United Kingdom with 1019 citations, Japan with 857 and
India with 829 citations obtained the subsequent positions.
we assessed the collaboration between countries for published documents
in the studied field Yemen, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, South Africa,
Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Portugal, Lebanon, Hong Kong, and
Indonesia had no collaboration with other countries. Among countries,
the United States had the highest rates of scientific collaborations.
assessment the changes in the total number of citations in each year,
total number of citations for the retrieved papers was 10,724 times at
the time of data analysis (May 18th, 2015) with the average citation per
article of 22.91. Among articles, 402 (86 %) documents were cited at
least once and 66 (14 %) items did not have any citation at all. The
highest number of citations was done in 2013 with 2278 citations while
in 1997 no citation was occurring.
The h-index
for the 468 documents analyzed in this study was 55. This means that
from documents considered for calculation of h-index, 55 documents were
cited at least 55 times (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2
H-graph of published documents in the studied field

of considering articles with >100 citations as highly cited article,
there were 29 highly cited articles. The United States, UK, India, and
Japan respectively, had the greatest contribution in publishing highly
cited articles. Journal of “Diabetes Care”, and “Asia Pacific Journal of
Clinical Nutrition” each one with publishing the two out of 29 top
cited articles (6.9 %) ranked as the first journals, following by
“Journal of Ethnopharmacology”, “Journal of Alternative and
Complementary Medicine”, and “Phytotherapy Research” each one with
publishing one highly cited article (3.44 %). Of the top ten highly
cited articles, four papers were original articles, three papers were
review and the last three were conference papers. The United States with
four highly cited articles was ranked as the first country having the
highest cited papers. South Korea and Australia each one with two highly
cited articles ranked second. The journal of “Diabetes Care” with 301
citations per article ranked as the first journal. “Asia Pacific Journal
of Clinical Nutrition with 2 highly cited articles, and 145.5 citations
per article was the second. General journals with 22 out of 29
top-cited articles published more than 75.86 % of the top-cited
There was a strong positive correlation between citation per top 10 papers and the impact factor of the journals (r = 0.81, P = 0.015).
The highly cited article was a systematic review sudy published in year
2003 in “Diabetes Care” journal (total citation number 418).
found 2034 authors that published documents in the field of
hypoglycemic antioxidative herbal medicine in T2DM. Fallah Huseini, H.”
with 14 publications had the highest number of publications in this
field. “Haddad, P.S.” with 10 articles, “Larijani, B.”, and “Arnason,
J.T.” each one with eight articles, and “Heshmat, R.” with seven
articles have published the highest number of articles in this field,
on the above data, of top 10 authors, six authors were from Canada and 4
authors were from Iran. “Tehran University of Medical Sciences”,
“Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research”, “Montreal
Diabetes Research Center”, and “Universite de Montreal” each one had
two documents.
is one of the factors for evaluation of scientific collaboration that
makes a social network among researchers. Based on the unit of analysis,
this network is divided into 4 types: co-authorship network of authors,
co-authorship network of institutes, co-authorship network of
countries, and co-authorship network of locations. In this part of
study, type 1 (co-authorship network of authors) was assessed. In order
to map the co-authorship network of authors using VOSviewer software,
minimum number of documents published by an author was considered to be
two documents. Out of 2034 authors, 245 authors meet this threshold.
After excluding authors without co-authorships (20 authors), 225 authors
were remained and analyzed.
Co-authorship network of authors in the field, in lable and density views are shown in Figs. 3 and 4, respectively.
Fig. 3
Lable view of co-authorship network of authors for published documents in the studied field

Fig. 4
Density view of co-authorship network of authors for the published documents in the studied field

analysis of co-authorship network of researchers in the field showed
that these clusters included 61 clusters in different colors. Cluster 1
(Red) with Haddad P.S. and Arnason J.T., Cluster 2 (Green) with Li Y.
and Zhang X.، cluster 6 (Blue) with Fallah Huseini H., Larijani B.،
Heshmat R.، Kianbakht S., and cluster 24 (Brown) with Bahrami A. were
the most important clusters. The highest density in the network belonged
to Fallah Huseini H., Haddad P.S., Zhang X., Liu X., and Li Y.
10 authors in the field of hypoglycemic and anti-oxidative medicinal
plants based on co-authorshipwere Fallah Huseini H. with 11
co-authorships, followed by Haddad P.S. (10), Amason J.T. (8), Heshmat
R. (7), Larijani B. and Martineau L.C. each one with 6 co-authorships,
Li Y., Kianbakht S., and Currier D. each one with 5 co-authorships, and
Schuster D. (4), respectively.
first ranked institute for publishing the documents was “Tehran
University of Medical Sciences” with publishing 20 documents, followed
by “Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture” with 12 published
paper and “Universite de Montreal” with 11 articles. In accordance with
top countries, the top three institutions’ relations were from Canada,
three were from South Korea, and 2 ones were from Iran. Details of these
findings are shown in Table 1.
Table 1
Names and characteristics of top 10 institutes for the published documents in the studied filed
Institution Name
Documents (n)
Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research
Universite de Montreal
Kyung Hee University
South Korea
University of Ottawa, Canada
Universitat Wien
Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology
South Korea
VA Medical Center
United States
Chungnam National University
South Korea
Universite Laval

order to map the co-authorship network of institutes in the studied
field in VOSviewer, minimum number of documents published by an
institution were considered to be two documents. Of 1260 institutes 33
ones meet this threshold. After exclusion of further 13 institutes which
did not have co-authorships, 20 institutions remained in the final
network of authors in the field, in density view included 8 clusters in
different colors. Based on these analysis, “Endocrinology and
Metabolism Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences,
Tehran, Iran” with six co-authorships had the highest co-authorships
among organizations.
of publishing sources revealed 463 journals and 5 book series in the
field. The “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” with 16 documents ranked the
first, followed by “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative
Medicine” with 13 documents and “Phytotherapy Research” with 12
documents (Table 2).
Table 2
Characteristics of top 10 sources for the published documents in the studied field
Source Title
Document (n)
Total citations to document
Citation per document
Highly cited document (n)
Total citation to highly cited document
Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Phytotherapy Research
Diabetes Care
Journal of Medicinal Food
Journal of Medicinal Plants
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
IF impact factor, SJR SCImago journal rank


the present study, scientometric analysis of research activities on
antioxidative hypoglycemic plants in T2DM was carried out. We analyzed
468 scientific products extracted from Scopus web databases. Although,
the scholarly literatures that were indexed outside of Scopus web
databases were not included in this analysis, it should be mentioned
that the Scopus search engine has known as one of the best available
tools for analysis and tracking the citations of the published articles [17].
Thus, our study could give a clear and reliable picture about the
characteristics of research in antioxidative hypoglycemic plants used
for T2DM and published in international journals.
findings showed that there is an increasing trend in publishing the
papers focusing on antioxidative herbal medicines in T2DM within
1997–2014 despite a temporary decrease in 2014. This observation could
be related to some international sanction against Iran. It has been
shown that international sanction against Iran negatively affected the
works of scientists and researchers in a way that most of them could not
publish the results of their research as fast as other countries’
researchers [18].
majority of published products in this searched field were original
articles (>70 %). WHO has recommended the scientific evaluation of
effective plants for treatment of metabolic disorders such as diabetes [19].
This suggestion could result in increasing the rate of studies using
herbal medicine at different levels ranged from cell-based on clinical
trials, as are shown in our results.
top subject areas of published papers in our analysis were respectively
in medicine, and then drug. These figures present the growing rate of
evidence based studies in hypoglycemic antioxidative herbal medicine as a
new target for management of T2DM [2, 20, 21, 22, 23].
majority of studies were published in scholarly valuable international
journals with IF > 2, and SJR > 1. These findings show the
worldwide importance of this topic. The “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”
that is ranked as the first top journal publishing a high number of
papers in this field, belongs to Elsevier publisher, and is indexed in
some of the most important citation databases such as ISI Web of
Science, Medline, Scopus, EMBASE, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, and Chemical
Abstracts. Based on IF and SJR values, we can assume that the documents
of this field are published in relatively high quality journals. H-index
analysis of documents revealed that the highest quality papers are
mostly published in the high-impact journals and/or seen by more
we considered the citation numbers according to published year, we
found that highest number of citations was reported in 2013. The reason
might be related to increased number of published articles in this year.
As expected the lowest number of citations was reported in 1998, and
1997, the years that had the lowest published articles in our topic.
Over time increase in the number of citations in the field was in fact
an indicator of growing interest of the medical professions to this
considering the citation report according to the article, the top
document was a systematic review study published in “Diabetes Care”
journal with a 5-year IF of 8.462 and 418 citation. It is well known
that systematic reviews with meta-analysis have the highest level of
evidence based [24].
This fact could confirm our findings that highest citations belonged to
a systematic review study by scientometric analysis. IF that is a good
indicator of the research productivity of the specialty can reflect the
importance of the paper with its number [14].
On the other word, journals with high IF are journals with high
ranking. The analysis of top-cited articles revealed that most of these
articles were published before the year 2008. This might be due to
availability of older articles for longer periods compared to more
recent published papers.
majority of the papers were from the United States (84 papers). The
other top 3 countries were India (51 papers), China (48 papers), and
Iran (46 papers). These figures showed the increasing trend of the
published studies in this field, both in developed and developing
countries with Iran being the fourth country publishing articles in this
field. Based on Iran’s 20 year national vision document, it is
predicted that Iran would become the highest developed country in
science and technology by 2025 [25].
Based on this, a high rate of published scholarly paper is expected
from Iran. Despite international sanction against Iran, we found that
Iran was placed within the top 5 countries that published the documents
in the studied field according to authors’ affiliation. Three authors of
these top 5 authors ranked as the first, the third, and the fifth were
Iranian which this fact was in line previous studies [26].
top international collaboration in the field belonged to the United
States. In addition, only 6.4 % of documents did not publish in the
English language. The reason might be the widespread use of the English
language in scientific productions or due to the fact that the United
States was the predominant country producing scientific documents in our
topic. Even though, our results showed that 4 authors of the top 10
authors in the studied field based on density and label views of
co-authorship network faced by VOSviewer software were Iranian, and the
first ranking belonged to Iran. In density view researchers with high
scientific relations had closer distance and researchers with lower
scientific collaboration had farther distance. Density of any researcher
was identified by number of scientific productions, number of
neighboring node, and importance of neighboring node. On the other hand,
being a researcher at the center of density map, illustrated the
importance of that node in the co-authorship network of authors. Also,
the range of color from red to blue indicated the weight of higher
density to weight of lower density nodes. Fallah Huseini H. (with 11),
Heshmat R (with 7) and Larijani B (with 6) allocated as the first, as
well as the fourth and the fifth ranking of co-authorships were all
Iranian. In addition, when we assessed the institutional co-authorship
of the countries participated in publishing papers in our searched
field, we found that many institutes were engaged in our topic during
1997–2015. Out of them, the first and the second ranking were belonged
to 2 Iranian institutes. The “Endocrinology and Metabolism Research
Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences” had the highest
co-authorships among organizations. It is known that co-authorship is
one of the most tangible forms of research collaboration [27].
Multiplicity and diversity of authors writing in a specific field led
to the formation of a common authorship or co-authorship network that in
this network the authors have the correlated entities form the global
system of knowledge production [27, 28].
In addition, the best bibliometric indicators to illustrate different
patterns of co-authorship of academic disciplines are co-authorship
networks [29].
Thus, the number of published articles, and number of their citations
can be affected positively by number of related multidisciplinary
faculties, research centers, and related specialists, students, and
research projects [30].
study had some strengths and limitations. First, we focused on specific
subjects on scientific productions in diabetes’ field. Second, we used
Scopus web database that has a high coverage in different branches of
science. Third, we assessed the worldwide trends of scholarly articles
production concomitant with international collaboration and
co-authorship network of authors and institutions. The first limitation
of this study was exclusion of non-Scopus journals. Notably, we did not
intend to ignore there are some highly cited scientific publications in
these journals. The second limitation was the exclusion of articles
published before 1996, due to the creation of Scopus web databases in


results of the present scientometric analysis showed promising
productivity of scientific publications in antioxidative hypoglycemic
herbal medicines in T2DM, and relatively good face of Iran for
scientific productions in this field. This study provided practical
information to researchers who look for studies with potentially highly
citations, and also would be helpful for researchers to conduct better
researches that eventually could lead to more publications in this


American diabetes association
Diabetes mellitus
International Diabetes Federation
Impact factor
Journal citation report
Medical Subject Headings
National Library of Medicine
SCImago journal rank
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Visualizing scientific landscapes



This article is extracted from PhD Thesis of Ozra Tabatabaei-Malazy, without any financial support.


This study is performed without any supporting fund.

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.

Authors’ contributions

“OTM participated in the
design of the study, collected data, analyzed data and wrote draft of
the manuscript. AR analyzed data and helped to write draft of the
manuscript. RA collected data and helped to write draft of the
manuscript. BL and MA equally contributed, conceived of the study,
participated in its design, and helped to collect data & and draft
the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.”

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.
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.


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Scientometric study of academic publications on antioxidative herbal medicines in type 2 diabetes mellitus | Journal of Diabetes