Worldwide trends in brain research: A bibliometric analysis

Bibliometrics methods have allowed researchers to assess the popularity of brain research through the ever-growing number of brain-related research papers. While many topics of brain research have been covered by previous studies, there is no comprehensive overview of the evolution of brain research and its various specialties and funding practices over a long period of time.

This paper aims to (1) determine how brain research has evolved over time in terms of number of papers, (2) countries' relative and absolute positioning in terms of papers and impact, and (3) how those various trends vary by area.

Using a list of validated keywords, we extracted brain-related articles and journals indexed in the Web of Science over the 1991–2020 period, for a total of 2,467,708 papers. We used three indicators to perform: number of papers, specialization, and research impact.

Our results show that over the past 30 years, the number of brain-related papers has grown at a faster pace than science in general, with China being at the forefront of this growth. Different patterns of specialization among countries and funders were also underlined. Finally, the NIH, the European Commission, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the UK Medical Research Council, and the German Research Foundation were found to be among the top funders.

Despite data-related limitations, our findings provide a large-scope snapshot of the evolution of brain research and its funding, which may be used as a baseline for future studies on these topics.

This content has been updated on February 16 2024 at 9 h 22 min.