European Spine Journal

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 524–529 | Cite as

Scientometric evaluation of the global research in spine: an update on the pioneering study by Wei et al.

  • Ozcan KonurEmail author



Wei et al. evaluated the global research in spine using scientometric methods based on a sample of 13,115 papers published in 5 spine journals from 2004 to 2013. This study builds on this pioneering study and provides up-to-date and thorough information on spine based on a sample of 166,962 papers for the stakeholders.


Articles’ and ‘reviews’ published in ‘English’ in the journals indexed by the ‘Web of Science’ primary databases between 1980 and 2017 were retrieved through the use of an optimal keyword set for titles of both papers and ten spine journals. The information on document types and number of papers, authors, countries, funding bodies, institutions, publication years, journals, ‘Web of Science’ subject categories, and ten top citation classics were analyzed.


A large sample of 166,962 papers were retrieved. The ‘reviews’ and ‘proceedings papers’ formed 5.8 and 2.8% of the sample, respectively. ‘Fehlings’, ‘Vaccaro’, ‘Takahashi’, ‘Lenke’, and ‘Gokaslan’ were the most-prolific authors. Nearly 0.7% of the papers had group authors besides single authors. The US was the most prolific country publishing 37.3% of the sample whilst Europe contributed to more than 39.8% of the sample. Only, 26.6% of the papers disclosed research funding. Among 40,897 institutions, ‘Harvard University’ was the most-prolific institution whilst the US institutions dominated the top-institution list. The research output steadily rose from 1375 papers in 1980 to 9357 papers in 2016 whilst 69.2% of the papers were published after 2000. Ten spine journals published only 23.4% of the sample. ‘Clinical Neurology’, ‘Orthopedics’, ‘Neurosciences’, and ‘Surgery’ was the most prolific subject categories. The top citation classic was a paper by van der Linden et al. on ankylosing spondylitis.


The optimal design of research sample made it possible to obtain nearly 13 times the size of the sample in Wei et al. as a true representation of the research in spine through the use of an optimal keyword set for the titles of both papers and 10 spine journals. However, despite the inefficient design of the incentive structures for the relevant stakeholders, the research in spine had expanded 6.8 times since 1980.


Spine Back pain Citation classics Scientometrics Research evaluation 



This paper acknowledges the pioneering study on spine by Wei et al. [1] as well as other pioneering scientometric studies on spine.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author does not have any potential conflict of interest.

Source of funding

No funds were received in support of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ankara Yildirim Beyazit UniversityAnkaraTurkey

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