Sunday, 20 December 2020

How to plan a research project


How to plan a research project | Psyche


How to plan a research project

Whether for a paper or a thesis, define your question, review the work of others – and leave yourself open to discovery

by Brooke Harrington

Illustration by James Round

Brooke Harringtonis professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her research has won international awards both for scholarly quality and impact on public life. She has published dozens of articles and three books, most recently the bestseller Capital without Borders (2016), now translated into five languages.

Edited by Sam Haselby

Need to know

‘When curiosity turns to serious matters, it’s called research.’
– From Aphorisms (1880-1905) by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Planning research projects is a time-honoured intellectual exercise: one that requires both creativity and sharp analytical skills. The purpose of this Guide is to make the process systematic and easy to understand. While there is a great deal of freedom and discovery involved – from the topics you choose, to the data and methods you apply – there are also some norms and constraints that obtain, no matter what your academic level or field of study. For those in high school through to doctoral students, and from art history to archaeology, research planning involves broadly similar steps, including: formulating a question, developing an argument or predictions based on previous research, then selecting the information needed to answer your question.

Some of this might sound self-evident but, as you’ll find, research requires a different way of approaching and using information than most of us are accustomed to in everyday life. That is why I include orienting yourself to knowledge-creation as an initial step in the process. This is a crucial and underappreciated phase in education, akin to making the transition from salaried employment to entrepreneurship: suddenly, you’re on your own, and that requires a new way of thinking about your work.

What follows is a distillation of what I’ve learned about this process over 27 years as a professional social scientist. It reflects the skills that my own professors imparted in the sociology doctoral programme at Harvard, as well as what I learned later on as a research supervisor for Ivy League PhD and MA students, and then as the author of award-winning scholarly books and articles. It can be adapted to the demands of both short projects (such as course term papers) and long ones, such as a thesis.

What to do

At its simplest, research planning involves the four distinct steps outlined below: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then choosing relevant data to formulate your own answers. Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project, as opposed to conducting a research project, this section won’t delve into the details of data-collection or analysis; those steps happen after you plan the project. In addition, the topic is vast: year-long doctoral courses are devoted to data and analysis. Instead, the fourth and final part of this section will outline some basic strategies you could use in planning a data-selection and analysis process appropriate to your research question.

1. Orient yourself

Planning and conducting research requires you to make a transition, from thinking like a consumer of information to thinking like a producer of information. That sounds simple, but it’s actually a complex task. As a practical matter, this means putting aside the mindset of a student, which treats knowledge as something created by other people. As students, we are often passive receivers of knowledge: asked to do a specified set of readings, then graded on how well we reproduce what we’ve read.

Researchers, however, must take on an active role as knowledge producers. Doing research requires more of you than reading and absorbing what other people have written: you have to engage in a dialogue with it. That includes arguing with previous knowledge and perhaps trying to show that ideas we have accepted as given are actually wrong or incomplete. For example, rather than simply taking in the claims of an author you read, you’ll need to draw out the implications of those claims: if what the author is saying is true, what else does that suggest must be true? What predictions could you make based on the author’s claims?

In other words, rather than treating a reading as a source of truth – even if it comes from a revered source, such as Plato or Marie Curie – this orientation step asks you to treat the claims you read as provisional and subject to interrogation. That is one of the great pieces of wisdom that science and philosophy can teach us: that the biggest advances in human understanding have been made not by being correct about trivial things, but by being wrong in an interesting way. For example, Albert Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, but his arguments about it with his fellow physicist Niels Bohr have led to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science, even a century later.

2. Define your research question

Students often give this step cursory attention, but experienced researchers know that formulating a good question is sometimes the most difficult part of the research planning process. That is because the precise language of the question frames the rest of the project. It’s therefore important to pose the question carefully, in a way that’s both possible to answer and likely to yield interesting results. Of course, you must choose a question that interests you, but that’s only the beginning of what’s likely to be an iterative process: most researchers come back to this step repeatedly, modifying their questions in light of previous research, resource limitations and other considerations.

Researchers face limits in terms of time and money. They, like everyone else, have to pose research questions that they can plausibly answer given the constraints they face. For example, it would be inadvisable to frame a project around the question ‘What are the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?’ if you have only a week to develop an answer and no background on that topic. That’s not to limit your imagination: you can come up with any question you’d like. But it typically does require some creativity to frame a question that you can answer well – that is, by investigating thoroughly and providing new insights – within the limits you face.

In addition to being interesting to you, and feasible within your resource constraints, the third and most important characteristic of a ‘good’ research topic is whether it allows you to create new knowledge. It might turn out that your question has already been asked and answered to your satisfaction: if so, you’ll find out in the next step of this process. On the other hand, you might come up with a research question that hasn’t been addressed previously. Before you get too excited about breaking uncharted ground, consider this: a lot of potentially researchable questions haven’t been studied for good reason; they might have answers that are trivial or of very limited interest. This could include questions such as ‘Why does the area of a circle equal π r²?’ or ‘Did winter conditions affect Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia?’ Of course, you might be able to make the argument that a seemingly trivial question is actually vitally important, but you must be prepared to back that up with convincing evidence. The exercise in the ‘Learn More’ section below will help you think through some of these issues.

Finally, scholarly research questions must in some way lead to new and distinctive insights. For example, lots of people have studied gender roles in sports teams; what can you ask that hasn’t been asked before? Reinventing the wheel is the number-one no-no in this endeavour. That’s why the next step is so important: reviewing previous research on your topic. Depending on what you find in that step, you might need to revise your research question; iterating between your question and the existing literature is a normal process. But don’t worry: it doesn’t go on forever. In fact, the iterations taper off – and your research question stabilises – as you develop a firm grasp of the current state of knowledge on your topic.

3. Review previous research

In academic research, from articles to books, it’s common to find a section called a ‘literature review’. The purpose of that section is to describe the state of the art in knowledge on the research question that a project has posed. It demonstrates that researchers have thoroughly and systematically reviewed the relevant findings of previous studies on their topic, and that they have something novel to contribute.

Your own research project should include something like this, even if it’s a high-school term paper. In the research planning process, you’ll want to list at least half a dozen bullet points stating the major findings on your topic by other people. In relation to those findings, you should be able to specify where your project could provide new and necessary insights. There are two basic rhetorical positions one can take in framing the novelty-plus-importance argument required of academic research:

  • Position 1 requires you to build on or extend a set of existing ideas; that means saying something like: ‘Person A has argued that X is true about gender; this implies Y, which has not yet been tested. My project will test Y, and if I find evidence to support it, that will change the way we understand gender.’
  • Position 2 is to argue that there is a gap in existing knowledge, either because previous research has reached conflicting conclusions or has failed to consider something important. For example, one could say that research on middle schoolers and gender has been limited by being conducted primarily in coeducational environments, and that findings might differ dramatically if research were conducted in more schools where the student body was all-male or all-female.

Your overall goal in this step of the process is to show that your research will be part of a larger conversation: that is, how your project flows from what’s already known, and how it advances, extends or challenges that existing body of knowledge. That will be the contribution of your project, and it constitutes the motivation for your research.

Two things are worth mentioning about your search for sources of relevant previous research. First, you needn’t look only at studies on your precise topic. For example, if you want to study gender-identity formation in schools, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to studies of schools; the empirical setting (schools) is secondary to the larger social process that interests you (how people form gender identity). That process occurs in many different settings, so cast a wide net. Second, be sure to use legitimate sources – meaning publications that have been through some sort of vetting process, whether that involves peer review (as with academic journal articles you might find via Google Scholar) or editorial review (as you’d find in well-known mass media publications, such as The Economist or The Washington Post). What you’ll want to avoid is using unvetted sources such as personal blogs or Wikipedia. Why? Because anybody can write anything in those forums, and there is no way to know – unless you’re already an expert – if the claims you find there are accurate. Often, they’re not.

4. Choose your data and methods

Whatever your research question is, eventually you’ll need to consider which data source and analytical strategy are most likely to provide the answers you’re seeking. One starting point is to consider whether your question would be best addressed by qualitative data (such as interviews, observations or historical records), quantitative data (such as surveys or census records) or some combination of both. Your ideas about data sources will, in turn, suggest options for analytical methods.

You might need to collect your own data, or you might find everything you need readily available in an existing dataset someone else has created. A great place to start is with a research librarian: university libraries always have them and, at public universities, those librarians can work with the public, including people who aren’t affiliated with the university. If you don’t happen to have a public university and its library close at hand, an ordinary public library can still be a good place to start: the librarians are often well versed in accessing data sources that might be relevant to your study, such as the census, or historical archives, or the Survey of Consumer Finances.

Because your task at this point is to plan research, rather than conduct it, the purpose of this step is not to commit you irrevocably to a course of action. Instead, your goal here is to think through a feasible approach to answering your research question. You’ll need to find out, for example, whether the data you want exist; if not, do you have a realistic chance of gathering the data yourself, or would it be better to modify your research question? In terms of analysis, would your strategy require you to apply statistical methods? If so, do you have those skills? If not, do you have time to learn them, or money to hire a research assistant to run the analysis for you?

Please be aware that qualitative methods in particular are not the casual undertaking they might appear to be. Many people make the mistake of thinking that only quantitative data and methods are scientific and systematic, while qualitative methods are just a fancy way of saying: ‘I talked to some people, read some old newspapers, and drew my own conclusions.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. In the final section of this guide, you’ll find some links to resources that will provide more insight on standards and procedures governing qualitative research, but suffice it to say: there are rules about what constitutes legitimate evidence and valid analytical procedure for qualitative data, just as there are for quantitative data.

As you work through these four steps in planning your project, it’s perfectly normal to circle back and revise. Research planning is rarely a linear process. It’s also common for new and unexpected avenues to suggest themselves. As the sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote in 1908 : ‘The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.’ That’s as true of research planning as it is of a completed project. Try to enjoy the horizons that open up for you in this process, rather than becoming overwhelmed; the four steps, along with the two exercises that follow, will help you focus your plan and make it manageable.

Key points

  • While there is no one ‘best’ way to design research, planning a project involves four general steps: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then selecting and analysing relevant data to formulate your own answers.
  • Research planning is always an iterative process: as you move through the four steps, it is normal to circle back to earlier points and revise. Expect your research question in particular to undergo multiple rounds of refinement as you learn more about your topic, the previous research done on that topic, and the possibilities for you to carry out an analysis of your own.
  • Good research questions tend to beget more questions. This can be frustrating for those who want to get down to business right away. Try to make room for the unexpected: this is usually how knowledge advances. Many of the most significant discoveries in human history have been made by people who were looking for something else entirely. There are ways to structure your research planning process without over-constraining yourself; the two exercises below are a start, and you can find further methods in the Links and Books section.

Learn more

The following exercise provides a structured process for advancing your research project planning. After completing it, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • describe clearly and concisely the question you’ve chosen to study
  • summarise the state of the art in knowledge about the question, and where your project could contribute new insight
  • identify the best strategy for gathering and analysing relevant data

In other words, the following provides a systematic means to establish the building blocks of your research project.

Exercise: Definition of research question and sources

This exercise prompts you to select and clarify your general interest area, develop a research question, and investigate sources of information. The annotated bibliography will also help you refine your research question so that you can begin the second assignment, a description of the phenomenon you wish to study.

Part 1: Topic

Jot down a few bullet points in response to these two questions, with the understanding that you’ll probably go back and modify your answers as you begin reading other studies relevant to your topic:

  • What will be the general topic of your paper?
  • What will be the specific topic of your paper?

Part 2: Research question(s)

Use the following guidelines to frame a research question – or questions – that will drive your analysis. As with Part 1 above, you’ll probably find it necessary to change or refine your research question(s) as you complete future assignments.

  • Your question should be phrased so that it can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Your question should have more than one plausible answer.
  • Your question should draw relationships between two or more concepts; framing the question in terms of How? or What? often works better than asking Why?

Part 3: Annotated bibliography

Most or all of your background information should come from two sources: scholarly books and journals, or reputable mass media sources. You might be able to access journal articles electronically through your library, using search engines such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. This can save you a great deal of time compared with going to the library in person to search periodicals. General news sources, such as those accessible through LexisNexis, are acceptable, but should be cited sparingly, since they don’t carry the same level of credibility as scholarly sources. As discussed above, unvetted sources such as blogs and Wikipedia should be avoided, because the quality of the information they provide is unreliable and often misleading.

To create an annotated bibliography, provide the following information for at least 10 sources relevant to your specific topic, using the format suggested below.

Name of author(s):
Publication date:
Title of book, chapter, or article:
If a chapter or article, title of journal or book where they appear:
Brief description of this work, including main findings and methods (c75 words):
Summary of how this work contributes to your project (c75 words):
Brief description of the implications of this work (c25 words):
Identify any gap or controversy in knowledge this work points up, and how your project could address those problems (c50 words):

Part 4: Towards an analysis

Develop a short statement (c250 words) about the kind of data that would be useful to address your research question, and how you’d analyse it. Some questions to consider in writing this statement include:

  • What are the central concepts or variables in your project? Offer a brief definition of each.
  • Do any data sources exist on those concepts or variables, or would you need to collect data?
  • Of the analytical strategies you could apply to that data, which would be the most appropriate to answer your question? Which would be the most feasible for you? Consider at least two methods, noting their advantages or disadvantages for your project.

Links & books

One of the best texts ever written about planning and executing research comes from a source that might be unexpected: a 60-year-old work on urban planning by a self-trained scholar. The classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs (available complete and free of charge via this link ) is worth reading in its entirety just for the pleasure of it. But the final 20 pages – a concluding chapter titled ‘The Kind of Problem a City Is’ – are really about the process of thinking through and investigating a problem. Highly recommended as a window into the craft of research.

Jacobs’s text references an essay on advancing human knowledge by the mathematician Warren Weaver. At the time, Weaver was director of the Rockefeller Foundation, in charge of funding basic research in the natural and medical sciences. Although the essay is titled ‘A Quarter Century in the Natural Sciences’ (1960) and appears at first blush to be merely a summation of one man’s career, it turns out to be something much bigger and more interesting: a meditation on the history of human beings seeking answers to big questions about the world. Weaver goes back to the 17th century to trace the origins of systematic research thinking, with enthusiasm and vivid anecdotes that make the process come alive. The essay is worth reading in its entirety, and is available free of charge via this link.

For those seeking a more in-depth, professional-level discussion of the logic of research design, the political scientist Harvey Starr provides insight in a compact format in the article ‘Cumulation from Proper Specification: Theory, Logic, Research Design, and “Nice” Laws’ (2005). Starr reviews the ‘research triad’, consisting of the interlinked considerations of formulating a question, selecting relevant theories and applying appropriate methods. The full text of the article, published in the scholarly journal Conflict Management and Peace Science, is available, free of charge, via this link.

Finally, the book Getting What You Came For (1992) by Robert Peters is not only an outstanding guide for anyone contemplating graduate school – from the application process onward – but it also includes several excellent chapters on planning and executing research, applicable across a wide variety of subject areas. It was an invaluable resource for me 25 years ago, and it remains in print with good reason; I recommend it to all my students, particularly Chapter 16 (‘The Thesis Topic: Finding It’), Chapter 17 (‘The Thesis Proposal’) and Chapter 18 (‘The Thesis: Writing It’).

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Optimizing Research Articles for Search Engines



Feature Article — Optimizing Research Articles for Search Engines

Internet search engines are commonly used to find research articles. To increase the discoverability and impact of their research, academics should make their articles more likely to be found on search engines and read by the academic community. Optimizing your articles for search engines not only enables them to be indexed by the engines but also ranked higher in the search results, which helps to enhance the visibility and citation rate of the articles.

The importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for academic visibility

SEO helps to enhance the visibility, accessibility and citability of your publications by making them more discoverable online. More specifically, in the context of academic publishing, academic search engine optimization (ASEO) has become an important strategy for making your research accessible by fellow researchers. ASEO is defined as ‘the creation, publication, and modification of scholarly literature in a way that makes it easier for academic search engines to both crawl it and index it.’ (Beel, Gipp, & Wilde, 2010). With optimization of articles in response to different search engines, researchers can increase their usage and expand their readership, and so enhance the overall impact of their research output.

How do you make your articles more discoverable?

Web search engines usually index all texts on websites. For searching relevant documents, they detect how often a search term or keyword occurs in the documents. In general, the more frequent the search term occurs and the more it occurs in a heavily weighted document field, the more a document is considered relevant (Beel et al., 2010).

Academic search engines have different ranking algorithms for displaying the search results. Google Scholar, for example, focuses heavily on document titles, meaning that a search term appearing in the title of a document is more likely to increase your article’s ranking and visibility in a search result than its appearance in the body of an article. Also, academic search engines consider factors such as citation count, authors’ names, and publication dates. Strategies are needed to maximize your article’s searchability. With reference to the literature on SEO (e.g. Beel et al., 2010; Elsevier Biggerbrains, 2012; SAGE Publishing, n.d.; Shafer, n.d.; Wiley-Blackwell Author Services, n.d.), various ways in which you may optimize your articles with search engines on different criteria are suggested below.

1. Keywords:

Choose a few (but not too many) relevant keywords or keyword phrases for your articles. Consider using tools to help in making this decision, such as Google Trends, Google Insights or Google AdWords, which help you to test the popularity of the chosen keywords in search results. If the choices are too popular or too general (i.e. yielding a large amount of search results), you may choose or add another keyword with less competition.

Use keywords consistent with your field. However, you should also avoid keyword stuffing — mechanical and excessive repetition of certain keywords — in writing your abstracts, because search engines may consequently remove your articles from the database.

2. Title:

Keep your title short and relevant. Try to use one or more keywords in the title which ideally describes your article in a concise manner.


Put essential keywords in the first two or three sentences of your abstract, which may be the only content that appears in search engines. Repeat the keywords a few times, or use synonyms to highlight the gist of your research in your abstract.


Citations are a crucially factor for the indexing and ranking of articles by academic search engines, especially Google Scholars. Be sure to reference your own and any co-authors’ previous relevant publications in your article, providing links where those references can be downloaded as this helps both the engines and readers to locate the full text. Refer to the names and initials of authors consistently so that search engines can perform identifications precisely.

5.Formats of graphics:

Make sure the tables and figures in your papers are machine readable. Vector graphics (e.g. images in .svg, .ai, .eps, and .ps formats) containing font-based text are preferable to image-based graphics, such as .tiff, .bmp, .jpeg, .png, .pdf, .gif and .psd, which cannot be indexed by search engines.


When choosing or considering journal submissions, authors should also consult the journal’s or publisher’s policies on allowing authors themselves to share and publicize their own work online. Open access articles have greater visibility than journals that can be obtained only through purchase or subscription.

7.Social networks:

After your article is published, share it in your academic and social networks on social platforms such as
• Linkedin
• Facebook
• Twitter
• Mendeley
• Your academic institution's website or repository
• Your website or any website that you contribute to
• Wikipedia (as a reference link)

Further details and resources about SEO are available in the Research Resources section of this issue of the Research Bulletin.


Beel, J., Gipp, B., & Wilde, E. (2010). Academic search engine optimization (ASEO): Optimizing scholarly literature for Google Scholar and Co. Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 41(2), 176–190.

Elsevier Biggerbrains. (2012). Get found — optimize your research articles for search engines. Retrieved from

SAGE Publishing. (n.d.). Help readers find your article. Retrieved from

Shafer, S. (n.d.). SEO for authors: A how-to guide. Retrieved from

Wiley-Blackwell Author Services. (n.d.). Writing for SEO. Retrieved from

Essential Steps to Write a Bibliometric Paper


Friday, 13 November 2020

33 Different ways for increasing citatons


Develop a plan for communicating your research
  • Create and maintain online profiles (e.g. GoogleScholar, ResearchGate)
  • Use persistent identifiers (e.g. ORCIDs, DOIs) to disambiguate yourself as author / link to your work
  • Publish in Open Access journals or choose Open Access options
  • Creative Commons license for your work for re-use
  • Post pre- or post-prints to repositories (SUNScholar)
  • Publish your data to data repositories (SUNScholarData)
  • Make social media engagement about your research a regular habit
  • Engage your audience in meaningful conversations about the topics that you are interested in
  • Connect with other researchers by means of academic network tools
  • Appeal to various audiences via multiple publication types
  • Check back in on your goals often


33 Different ways for increasing citatons

A paper by Nader Ale Ebrahim, reviewing relevant articles, extracted 33 different ways for increasing citation possibilities. Below some of the ways we would like to recommend (excluding the ways already mentioned in the list above):

  • Visibility is the key to higher citations
  • Use a standardised institutional affiliation and address, using no abbreviations
  • Assign keyword terms to the manuscript
  • Publish in journal with high impact factor
  • Team-authored articles get cited more
  • Write review articles
  • Contribute to Wikipedia
  • Create an online CV
  • Make a podcast about your research


Ale Ebrahim, Nader, et al. "Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency." International Education Studies 6.11 (2013): 93-99.

Share your research online


Share your research online

Sharing your research online can help build and track engagement with your research.

Sharing your own work and copyright

Before sharing your published output, make sure you understand its copyright status. Many journal publishing agreements, for example, prevent you from sharing copies of your article except in places and formats specified by the publisher. Ensure that you have considered these implications before making your decision about where to publish and that you comply with any conditions as you share your work online.

Make an open access copy of your research output available in a repository

Archiving a copy of your research output in a repository allows audiences who don’t have access to subscription resources or can’t attend performances, events or exhibitions themselves the opportunity to access your work.

There are a range of repositories available:

Use DOIs

When sharing a copy of your work or supporting materials as part of your outreach, make sure your audience can find the work easily and you can track engagement by using DOIs.

What is a DOI?

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique identifier which provides a persistent link that is used to identify an object, such as a publication or a dataset. Publishers often assign a DOI when an article or book is published and made available electronically.

Why should I get a DOI?

  • A DOI ensures that audiences will be able to find your work through the same link over time, even if it is moved to a different URL.
  • A DOI is permanent and cannot be removed but it is possible to remove the public right to access the resource.
  • Metrics tools, like Altmetric, use DOIs and other persistent identifiers to follow your work to see how often it’s being accessed, used or talked about.
  • A DOI can often be used to help you manage your work in various scholarly systems e.g. populating your ORCiD profile.

Who can get a DOI?

DOIs are not just for journal articles but can be assigned to other research outputs that form part of the scholarly record, for example datasets, grey literature and non-traditional research outputs.

How do I get a DOI?

To maintain the integrity of DOIs, they are only issued by registered agencies and you will need to comply with requirements of that agency in order to get a DOI for your work (i.e., you can’t make an item available from your own website and then register it for a DOI yourself).

Some options include:

Sydney eScholarship Repository The University Library can provide a DOI for work made available through the Sydney eScholarship Repository provided the work meets requirements. For further information or if you require DOIs for more than 5 items, please contact for further information.
Zenodo An open repository with free uploads up to 50GB. Uploaded work is eligible for a DOI. More information.
Figshare An open repository with free uploads up to 5GB. Uploaded work is eligible for a DOI. More information.
F1000 Research Uploaded slides and posters can receive a DOI.
Open Science Framework A free open platform for research collaboration and sharing. Public research is eligible for a DOI. More information.
ResearchGate DOIs can be generated for eligible uploads. More information.
LabArchives eNotebooks If you use a LabArchives eNotebook to collect and record your research and you want to make it available to the public, then you can get a DOI for your eNotebook through the LabArchives system. More information.

Tools & resources

Thursday, 12 November 2020

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Citation Count: A Checklist


10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Citation Count: A Checklist

To boost your citation count to maximize impact, consider these 10 simple techniques.

The number of papers you publish is important to your career. “Publish early and often” is heard over and over again in research. However, the number of times your work is cited is important as well because it can indicate the impact that your research has on the field.

Increasing your citation count can also have a positive impact on your career because funding agencies often look at a combination of the number of papers and the number of citations when making grant decisions.

To boost your citation count to maximize impact, consider these 10 simple techniques:

  1. Cite your past work when it is relevant to a new manuscript. However, do not reference every paper you have written just to increase your citation count.

  2. Carefully choose your keywords. Choose keywords that researchers in your field will be searching for so that your paper will appear in a database search.

  3. Use your keywords and phrases in your title and repeatedly in your abstract. Repeating keywords and phrases will increase the likelihood your paper will be at the top of a search engine list, making it more likely to be read.

  4. Use a consistent form of your name on all of your papers. Using the same name on all of your papers will make it easier for others to find all of your published work. If your name is very common, consider getting a research identifier, such as an ORCID. You can provide your ORCID in your email signature and link that ID to your publication list so that anyone you email has access to your publications.

  5. Make sure that your information is correct. Check that your name and affiliation are correct on the final proofs of your manuscript and check that the paper’s information is accurate in database searches.

  6. Make your manuscript easily accessible. If your paper is not published in an open-access journal, post your pre- or post-publication prints to a repository. Check SHERPA RoMEO to find your publisher’s copyright and self-archiving policies regarding sharing your published manuscript.

  7. Share your data. There is some evidence that sharing your data can increase your citations. Consider posting to data sharing websites, such as figshare or SlideShare, or contributing to Wikipedia and providing links to your published manuscripts.

  8. Present your work at conferences. Although conference presentations are not cited by other others, this will make your research more visible to the academic and research communities. Check out these tips for making the most of your next research conference.

  9. Use social media. Provide links to your papers on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter,, ResearchGate, Mendeley) and your university profile page.

  10. Actively promote your work. Talk to other researchers about your paper, even ones not in your field, and email copies of your paper to researchers who may be interested. Create a blog or a website dedicated to your research and share it.

Additional reading:

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Publication Trends in Drug Delivery and Magnetic Nanoparticles



Publication Trends in Drug Delivery and Magnetic Nanoparticles


This bibliometric study investigated the public trends in the fields of nanoparticles which is limited to drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles’ literature published from 1980 to October 2017. The data were collected from the Web of Science Core Collections, and a network analysis of research outputs was carried out to analyse the research trends in the nanoparticles literature. Nanoparticles and its applications are progressing in recent years. The results show that documents in the field of nanoparticles in chemistry and material science have improved in citation rate, as the authors were researching in multidisciplinary zones. Top-cited documents are mainly focusing on drug delivery, magnetic nanoparticles and iron oxide nanoparticles which are also the top research keywords in all papers published. Top-cited papers are mostly published in Biomaterials journal which so far has published 12% of top-cited articles. Although research areas such as contrast agents, quantum dots, and nanocrystals are not considered as the top-ranked keywords in all documents, these keywords received noticeable citations. The trends of publications on drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles give a general view on future research and identify potential opportunities and challenges.


Nowadays, nanoscale structures are widely proposed and attracted many researchers’ attention for usage in cellular biology [1]. The significant advances in nanotechnology are the reason for this attraction. Between various issues in the pharmacological field, developing beneficial drug delivery systems is one of the important key factors [2]. The main concern is focused on improving drug delivery efficiencies which are generally described in low disruptions, sustainability, and accurate and precise targeted delivery control [3].

In the past few decades, drug delivery systems based on the usage of magnetic behaviour of magnetic nanoparticles have been studied, and several types of research have been accomplished in this field [4,5,6,7]. Regarding the recent studies in drug delivery system, many methods have been proposed. Carbon-based nanotubes (CNTs) are a new method of drug translocating into targeted places inside the human body which are functionalised with proteins and peptides. Concerning low toxicity and high biocompatibility of functionalised CNTs, they are widely used in many nanobiotechnology application [3]. Beside the nanocarriers method, some researchers used bare nanoparticles as a novel method for brain disorder detection. They have crossed bare nanoparticle through the blood-brain barrier [8,9,10] towards the brain, and regarding the magnetic behaviour of the epileptic area, magnetic nanoparticles are aggregated in the defined area [11]. This bibliometric study investigated the public trends in the fields of nanoparticles, which is limited to drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles’ literature.

Bibliometrics refers to the implementation of statistical methods for evaluating the research productivity, for individuals, institutes, and countries [12]. Bibliometrics is measuring academic performance based on various indices such as the number of publications, number of citations, and average citation per year [13]. The results of the bibliometric analysis can shed light on the factors that strengthen the contribution of studies in a research area and guide scholars towards producing impactful studies [14].

Bibliometric study analysis research productivity [15], top-cited publications [16], countries’ scholarly outputs [17], assessment of scientific activity [18], keywords selections effect on citations [19], effect of social media on research impact [20,21,22], international collaborations [23, 24], and increasing visibility and enhancing impact of research [25, 26], and compares the relative scientific contributions of specific research area, groups, or institutions [27]. Top-cited or highly cited papers are defined as those papers that received the highest number of citations in a certain period [28]. There has been an emerging interest in using top-cited papers as indicators in research assessments during the last decade [29]. The limited bibliometric study has been investigated on the publication patterns in nanoparticles, specially “magnetic nanoparticles” and “drug delivery”. A search on the Web of Science database for all bibliometric publications in the field of nanoparticles reveal seven documents [30,31,32,33,34,35,36]. Only one study [30] evaluated the scientific literature on drug delivery in the fields of nanoparticles which the study limited to 1974–2015. So, a comprehensive and up-to-date bibliometric study on “nanoparticles” is needed. This paper reports on the use of a bibliometric approach to analyse the productivity and development of publications on the title of nanoparticles in the period 1980–2017.

Web-based citation databases such as Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) are frequently used for deriving bibliometric data [37]. Since WoS is the oldest citation database, it has strong coverage with bibliometric data which goes back to 1900 [38]. The Web of Sciences Core Collection (as a part of WoS) is a leading database with high-quality and multidisciplinary research information, by the subscribed from the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), also known as Thomson Reuters [13].

Bibliometrics cannot be a substitute for qualitative peer evaluation. Therefore, it should be used with precautions to evaluate the scholarly outputs [39]. So, qualitative analysis beside bibliometric study will elaborate more insight into scholarly outputs [40]. Therefore, in this study, the growing trend of documents published in recent years in the field of nanoparticles is considered. The Web of Science database was used to make a bibliometric analysis of nanoparticles research references during the years 1980–2017. However, the first article on drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles was published in the year 2003. The main goal of this paper is to identify and analyse the top-cited papers researching on the field of nanoparticles to find a pathway for future research. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of the top-cited papers on drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles gives a general view on current research and guideline for future research. Variant bar charts were plotted based on terms such as publication year, author, publication, keyword, and country to provide additional insights. The goal is to demonstrate the research status of the nanoparticles research field during this recent period.


The data were collected from the Web of Science Core Collection database on 17 October 2017. All Web of Science Core Collection citation indexes including Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Emerging Sources Citation Index, and relevant conference proceedings citation index were searched for “Nanoparticle*” in the title of documents. The results refined by “Magnetic Nanoparticle*”, and “Drug delivery” in the topic of documents. The results consisting 2066 documents, which includes all bibliometric data during the interval between the year of publication and 17 October 2017, were collected. To compare the differences between data collection from SCOPUS and WoS databases, the researchers run (TITLE (“Nanoparticle*”)) AND (TITLE-ABS-KEY (“Magnetic Nanoparticle*” AND “Drug delivery”)) search on SCOPUS database and found 1368 documents. Therefore, the WoS database is more comprehensive and the final analysis is carried out on WoS data sets.

After collecting the final data, a networking visualisation software called VoSViewer ( was used to demonstrate the publication output based on each grouping colour code. The abbreviation “VOS” in the VOSViewer stands for “visualisation of similarities” [41]. VOSviewer is a computer programme that plotted a relevance distance-based map and clustered keywords from the text in titles and abstracts of documents [42]. There are many softwares for mapping and visualisation, such as BibTechMon, Bibexcel, CiteSpaceII, CoPalRed, IN-SPIRE, Leydesdorff’s Software, Network Workbench Tool, Sci2 Tool, Vantage Point, and VOS Viewer [43]. The VOSviewer is one of them that is dedicated for bibliometric maps, scientific research, and graphical representation.

In order to analyse scholarly outputs in the area of the research, a web-based software called HAMMER was used. HAMMER is a web-based server for automating a network analysis for literature study scripts [44]. In the quality analysis of the documents, the top 100 documents with the most citation per year were investigated. There were 42 research papers and 57 review papers on the top of highly cited ratio documents. In this study, the 42 research articles were analysed qualitatively.

To map the present subtopics of the nanoparticle-based research field, especially drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles, data tables are drawn to identify all 42 references in 2 dimensions. At first, the subjects focused on these studies are surveyed individually and the second dimension is the research methods applied in these documents. The data is produced by focusing on the article text, especially the abstract section. The outcomes of this set of top-cited references identify openings for future research.

Result and Discussion

Analysis of Publication Years

Figure 1 shows the dispensation of published articles from the year 2003 to the first half of 2017. There are a different number of publications in variant sections. As it is shown in Fig. 1, in 2003–2012 period, the number of publications grows gradually with an upward curve trend from five articles published in 2003 to about 171 articles in 2012. There is a prompt rise around 2013 reaching to approximately 253 publications in that year. We can notice a rare decrease in 2014 coming down from 253 to 245. But after that, in 2015, the reduction has been compensated and the number of articles published has reached to nearly 291. This number of articles is 14% of all articles published in all times.

Fig. 1

Publication years sorted by the number of articles published

Analysis of Authors

As Fig. 2 shows, the most active author is Alexiou C who has taken part in over 22 articles out of the overall number of 2066 in the field of nanoparticles. This huge number of publication equals to above 1% of publications at all times. Table 1 has the first 10 authors listed with their article count. Authors such as Yang VC, David AE, and Akbarzadeh A have participated in as high as 18 articles and Gunduz U in 17 publications relating to drug delivery and nanoparticles. They appear on the second to the fifth row of Table 1. According to our research, more productive authors such as Zhang Y and Lyer S are owing as far as 15 articles published about nanoparticles. Figure 3 illustrates the most cited author in the world, AK Gupta, that has the highest article citations with a great difference. His papers are generally about the narrow size of particles which leads them to their fantastic uniform physical and chemical characteristics [45] and the way they are nowadays used for variant biomedical applications [46]. As we can see in the figure Zhang MQ, Duguet E, Yang VC, and Jin Xie have earned the most citations after Prof. AK Gupta prospectively.

Fig. 2

Important authors with the number of articles published

Table 1 Top 10 authors with their number of published articles
Fig. 3

Important authors with the number of article citations

Analysis of Publications

In Fig. 4, the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology [16] with over 65 articles in the field of nanoparticles has the most articles published. Nearly 62 articles have been published in Biomaterials. This journal has the most cited publications with 10,000 total times cited. Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials from the Netherlands holds third place for the most popular publications with approximately 60 articles. A German journal called Small and ACS Nano along with Advanced drug delivery reviews are at the top owing about 3000 citations.

Fig. 4

Important publications with the number of articles in their dataset and their citations

Analysis of Keywords

Analysing different keywords assists researchers to explore dominant research topics. Top 10 keywords with the most citation are shown in Fig. 5. The word “Magnetic Nanoparticles” occurred more than 475 times with around 16,000 citations. The second common searched keywords are “Drug Delivery” which was used just above 300 and mentioned over 20,000 times. In summary, the most popular keywords in our research area, as Fig. 5 informs, are drug delivery, magnetic nanoparticles, MRI, hyperthermia, iron oxide, nanoparticles, surface modification, magnetic nanoparticle, magnetic resonance imaging, and cell labelling cited from 20,000 to 4000 times. Words such as siRNA, mesoporous silica, gene delivery, and multifunctional are the least cited ones with less than 2000 citations.

Fig. 5

Important keywords mentioned and the number of their citations

Analysis of Countries

Figure 6 gives a complete picture of nanoparticle research all around the world. This repartition guide presents such important data for analysts to discover the place which they should start working on or building up some cooperation. Researches illustrate that 2066 papers were written in 73 countries. The top 10 countries in this field with their number of publications are shown in Table 2 as they represent 87.71% of all publications. The USA, China, India, and Iran have the greatest noteworthy number of publications compared to other nations. Japan, as a developed country, has not been focusing on this branch, but countries such as Italy, Taiwan, and France are shining in the eighth, ninth, and tenth rows, respectively. Germany has 123 published articles from the total number of 2066 papers in nanoparticles, this makes it ranked fifth. South Korea and Spain both have accounted for 5.3% of total publications, holding sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Fig. 6

Countries sorted by the number of articles published

Table 2 Top 10 countries with their number of published articles

Top 100 Cited Papers

There are 2066 documents analysed quantitatively in this study. By sorting them with their number of citations per year, it is understood that there are only 7 papers which have been cited over 100 times per year. Setting the threshold to 21 citations per year results in the top 100 papers. According to [47,48,49,50] papers, it is conventional to analyse the top 100 with the most citations per year. This analysis will emphasise the top 100 journals, top related keywords, top countries, and top sub-research areas in the field of nanoparticles. After that, the reader would be able to choose from the keywords and research areas before starting his/her research in order to aim for a great number of citations per year. The other benefit of this analysis is the idea of which journal is more suitable for submitting the nanoparticle-based article or review papers.

Most review papers gain a higher number of citations per year compared to the articles in the same field [20]. Review papers talk about the background of studies and give the reader a general idea of what he/she should do further in this area; this is one of the reasons for using the review paper more than articles which rises their citation number. The document types for the top 100 papers with the most citation/year ratio are 42% articles, 57 review papers, and only 1 review paper from a book chapter. In this study, we are going to analyse the data both in quantitative and qualitative ways based on the 100 top-cited papers and 42 top-cited articles, respectively.

Quantitative Analysis

Analysis of Keywords in the Top 100 Cited Papers

One of the most important factors in a quantitative analysis is keywords analysis. There were 457 different keywords used in these top 100 papers. The graph in Fig. 7 shows keyword’s popularity, keywords repeated above 5 times, in the top 100 citation/year papers. As it is illustrated, the words Drug-Delivery and Magnetic Nanoparticles as keywords have the most popularity among 455 others, repeated 47 and 46 times, respectively. Iron oxide nanoparticles is by a big difference in the third place recurred 37 times in 100 papers.

Fig. 7

Keywords sorted by the number of articles published

Recently, utilizing magnetic nanoparticles has become the objective drug delivery technique [51]. Furthermore, iron oxide nanoparticles have superparamagnetic characteristics, and it is used for MRI monitoring targeting the brain tumour or breast cancer as a drug delivery vehicle [52,53,54]. In conclusion, these three keywords are intertwined and together on the top of the most used keywords’ list. In-VIVO and Biomedical Applications are included in a quite same number of papers, 28 and 24, respectively. Contrast agents, Superparamagnetic nanoparticles, In-VITRO, and Quantum Dots are the keywords with almost the same popularity from 16 to 13 papers among the 100 most cited papers.

Nowadays, health is the most important factor in our lives, and any issue relevant to health like methods of drug combination for a therapeutic effect or any disease treatment for living creatures based on nanoparticles is of interests [55]. Drug delivery holds the first place among keywords in all papers and in the top 100 citations/year papers. The keyword Magnetic Nanoparticles is in second place in both rankings (Table 3). The reason is the popularity of all sorts of the application via magnetic nanoparticles such as boosting MRI data and tissue engineering methods, modifying drug delivery along with cancer diagnosis [56]. Iron oxide nanoparticles are ranked third via their useful utilisation in medical and biomedical applications. IO nanoparticles as an eco-friendly and non-toxic material have superparamagnetic characteristics and biomedical applications helping the world these days [57, 58].

Table 3 Comparing keywords ranking in the top 100 best cited papers with keywords ranking in all papers

Keywords number four and five from the top 100 citations/year papers have switched places in the ranking in all papers’ column. This means that although biomedical applications are more useful in comparison with In-VIVO experimentations, top 100 cited papers have used the keyword In-VIVO more than Biomedical Applications. Since In-VIVO is more limited and it has its own biomedical applications in other words the word Biomedical Applications contains subtopics such as In-VIVO, the top 100 citations/year papers have focused on the particular field called In-VIVO more than Biomedical Applications.

One of the interesting points of this comparison is the keyword Contrast Agents. Particular contrast agents are advanced for MRI, sonography, or X-ray tests [59]. An ideal future medical imaging, as contrast agents’ applications, is necessary in order to achieve treatments without side effects [60]. So, nowadays contrast agents and their medical imaging application are more important and conventional researches and the papers related to them will be cited more than papers with the topic called Cancer. Superparamagnetic nanoparticles such as IO nanoparticles, which is ranked 3, are used in variant biomedical applications. This is a quite common research topic holding the seventh position in the 100 top citation papers’ ranking and the 12th position in all papers’ ranking

In-VIVO keyword’s ranking is followed by In-VITRO keyword in the ranking of total papers, but there are three topics in between In-VIVO and In-VITRO in the top 100 ranking list. Overall, the benefit of In-VIVO experiments compared to IN-VITRO is that researchers are able to spot the effects on a living objective in its natural home and the upcoming results will be accurate [61]. This is the reason why nowadays In-VIVO researches are one of the highly cited researches.

Analysis of Research Area in the Top 100 Most Cited Papers

In this analysis, we are going to analyse the data based on 100 top-cited papers and compare the rankings of research areas in 100 top-cited papers with research areas in all papers. There are respectively 13 and 37 different research topics used in top 100 best cited papers and in all papers. The graph in Fig. 8 shows the research area’s popularity, research area’s reputation, in the top 100 citations/year papers. In 100 papers including 42 articles and 57 review papers and a review on a book chapter, the most common research area is “Chemistry”. “Material Science” is in fact the second favourite research area with slight difference of only one paper.

Fig. 8

Research areas sorted by the number of articles published

Nanoparticles have variant applications in chemistry, for example, they are used as catalyst to enhance chemical reactions, as industrial water pollutant remover through chemical reactions, etc. [62]. So, these different researches have made chemistry number 1 of all, and 48 top-cited papers [out of 100] related to nanoparticles have been researched in chemistry. It is analysed that authors of the chemistry papers are not just experts in the single field of chemistry, but also they are different authors skilled in different categories such as biomedical engineering, molecular genetics and microbiology, physics, and radial diagnostics. The same pattern exists for material science research topic. Surprisingly, only few of the authors, as professors, were in the department of material science. For writing these sort of papers in the field of material science, it is necessary to gather authors with variant expertise in some of the field of medical physics, biological sciences, physics, chemistry and biochemistry, radiology, pharmacy, etc.

Science and technology–other topics are researched by 34 papers out of 100. By analysing the authors’ address, it is found that the phrase “other topics” in this research area mostly means areas such as bioengineering, biomedical engineering, and microelectronic. Physics, pharmacology and pharmacy, and engineering are the subjects which have been used 21, 17, and 15 times in 100 most cited papers, respectively. As it is shown in Fig. 8, chemistry, material science, and science and technology seems to be really involved with nanoparticles. Recently, they are much more controversial topics compared to physics, pharmacy, or engineering.

As it was discussed above, the key goal for the top 100 papers in order to get a high citation is researching in multidisciplinary zones and not just in pure physics, pharmacy, or even engineering alone. Table 4 compares research area’s rankings in 100 top-cited papers and the ranking in all papers. Overall, research topics such as chemistry and material science are at the same level, and somehow, they will switch places in the ranking list. The other areas for example physics, pharmacology and pharmacy, engineering and biotechnology and applied microbiology are ranked the same in both analyses.

Table 4 Comparing research areas repeated times in the top 100 best cited papers with research areas in all papers

Analysis of Journals in the Top 100 Most Cited Papers

Journals’ reputation in the top 100 most cited papers is shown in Fig. 9. The bar chart illustrates famous journals which have published at least 2 papers from the top 100 most cited papers in the field of nanoparticles. The journal of Biomaterials has, by far difference, the most papers published in comparison with other journals. It is obvious that this journal is more appropriate for a related paper to get a high citation per year rate. The journal of Small is the second most popular journal in this study, which has published 7 papers from the top 100 cited list. The journal of Accounts of Chemical Research along with the journal of Advanced drug delivery reviews is at the next places with the lower number of papers published in this area.

Fig. 9

Journals sorted by the number of papers published (journals are used least two times)

At this stage, the abovementioned journals are compared with journals which published the most papers in all nanoparticle-based references. It can be seen in Table 5 that the journal of Biomaterials remains the best, and it is considered as the second most articles published journal in the area of nanoparticles. Surprisingly, other journals are ranked completely different. Generally, the journals with the most cited papers in the field of nanoparticles are not the top 10 mostly used journals in all documents. So, this issue must be considered when finding an appropriate journal to submit in the field of nanoparticles, drug delivery, or magnetic nanoparticles.

Table 5 Comparing top 100 best cited papers’ journals with all journals

Qualitative Analysis

In this study, we are going to analyse the data in a qualitative way based on 42 top-cited articles. The idea is to know the important topics in nanoparticles which have been studied the most or the least used topics that have been making progress (shown in Table 6).

Table 6 Summary of the top 42 most cited articles in the field of study

Subjects of Nanoparticles Studies

This analysis endeavours to discuss materials, drug delivery, therapeutic and diagnostic, coating, targeting, and imaging perspectives of nanoparticles’ studies. The most used topics and their subtopics are considered in this study. Most articles in the top 42 most cited articles’ list, in our data set, focus on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. This material is commonly used as nanoparticles with magnetic properties which is also called magnetic nanoparticles, superparamagnetic nanoparticles, or iron oxide nanoparticles. Half of the magnetic nanoparticle-based articles have been using magnetic resonance imaging as their imaging process. There is only a single article using therapeutic MNPs [63].

Multifunctional mesoporous nanoparticles are the second most popular materials which sometimes overlaps with the magnetic nanoparticles in some references [64,65,66,67,68]. Silver is used as a nanoparticle material only once in the 42 most cited articles. The silver nanoparticle-based article has its unique way of drug delivery, a chitosan nanocarrier (NC)-based delivery using fluorescence imaging. It has been used in cancer therapy along with magnetic nanoparticles and multifunctional mesoporous nanoparticles [69].

Drug delivery is a popular study among nanoparticle studies. Subtopics such as targeting anticancer drugs, delivering drugs to cancer cells, or controlled-release drug delivery has allocated over a quarter of our database articles’ subjects. It is found that as rare as one research is based on a thermotherapy or chemotherapy of cancer [70] and other cancer therapy articles have researched on the help of controlled-released drug delivery or magnetic resonance imaging or even both on cancer therapy. Fluorescence imaging and near-infrared fluorescence imaging methods are used in articles published from 2009 to 2011. This is a proof that the method has had its progress and its citation per year rating is downgrading in recent years.

Among all different research and experiments on coated nanoparticles, coating superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles has become famous. It is interested that none of the coating superparamagnetic iron oxides have been using MRI imaging unlike other types.

Methods of Nanoparticles Studies

The analysis of variant methods used by 42 top-cited articles shows the use of either common or particular different methods of nanoparticle-based studies. Each popular method has been utilised in 5 to as low as 1 article among all 42 top-cited articles. Methods such as hydrothermal methods, coprecipitational method, modified solvent method, quantitative analysis, decomposition method, water-based method, solvothermal method, hetero-interparticle coalescence strategy, thermodynamic modelling, film hydration method, and solid-phase biopanning methods are used in this set of papers.

Hydrothermal methods are quite popular using superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Solvothermal methods are considered hydrothermal where the solvent is water. There are researches done by both hydrothermal and solvothermal methods based on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles [67, 71]. Modified solvent methods along with solvothermal methods are applied in recent experiments [70,71,72,73].

In this study, 42 references with the highest citation/year rate on nanoparticles were reviewed. Most of the references have nominated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as the nanoparticles’ materials, followed by a few references focusing on targeting anticancer drugs or drug delivery for cancer therapy. A certain number of articles have been using magnetic resonance imaging, following a few considered fluorescence imaging, near-infrared fluorescence imaging, molecular-targeted imaging, and positron emission tomography as their imaging agents. In general, references’ arrangement has a connection with a wide scope of research goals. Nevertheless, the techniques used for nanoparticle-based researches are just divided into a few.

The limitation of this study is collecting data from the Web of Science Core Collection based on title search for “Nanoparticle*” with “Magnetic Nanoparticle*”, and “Drug delivery” in the topic. Therefore, documents in other databases such as SCOPUS were not considered. Although, the number of documents in the WoS database is higher than that in the SCOPUS database in this research area. There might be some relevant articles which talk about “Nanoparticle”, but the word “Nanoparticle” is not in the title of the paper. Such papers and also low-cited documents were not included in the quantitative and qualitative analysis. One of the merits of this study is to encourage the researchers to start their research in multidisciplinary zones and not just in pure physics, pharmacy, or even engineering alone. The 42 top-cited documents which were analysed qualitatively give an insight into the drug delivery and magnetic nanoparticles research area.


In summary, an extensive bibliometric analysis of nanoparticles-based research documents was made with the help of the Web of Science database. Nanoparticle-based researches were characterised quantitatively and qualitatively from 2003 to 2017. The result shows an increase in the number of articles published during these years. Researchers from the USA and China contributed most of the publications. Analysis of keywords shows the stressed points in nanoparticle research field which guides to a direct and inform future. Chemistry and material science research areas are the most common areas using nanoparticles. The key factor for this success is researching in multidisciplinary zones and not just in pure physics or pharmacy or even engineering.



Institute of Scientific Information


American Chemical Society


Carbon-based nanotubes

IO nanoparticles:

Iron oxide nanoparticles


Magnetic nanoparticles


Magnetic resonance imaging




National Society for Earthquake Technology


Small interfering RNA


Visualisation of similarities


Web of Science


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Ale Ebrahim, S., Ashtari, A., Zamani Pedram, M. et al. Publication Trends in Drug Delivery and Magnetic Nanoparticles. Nanoscale Res Lett 14, 164 (2019).

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  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Biomedical and medical applications
  • Drug delivery to the brain/cell
  • Nanotechnology
  • Bibliometrics
  • Research productivity