Open Access

Past and future trends in cancer and biomedical research: a comparison between Egypt and the World using PubMed-indexed publications

  • Ahmed Abdelmabood Zeeneldin1Email author,
  • Fatma Mohamed Taha2 and
  • Manar Moneer3
BMC Research Notes20125:349

DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-5-349

Received: 5 July 2011

Accepted: 26 June 2012

Published: 10 July 2012

Abstract

Background

PubMed is a free web literature search service that contains almost 21 millions of abstracts and publications with almost 5 million user queries daily. The purposes of the study were to compare trends in PubMed-indexed cancer and biomedical publications from Egypt to that of the world and to predict future publication volumes.

Methods

The PubMed was searched for the biomedical publications between 1991 and 2010 (publications dates). Affiliation was then limited to Egypt. Further limitation was applied to cancer, human and animal publications. Poisson regression model was used for prediction of future number of publications between 2011 and 2020.

Results

Cancer publications contributed 23% to biomedical publications both for Egypt and the world. Egyptian biomedical and cancer publications contributed about 0.13% to their world counterparts. This contribution was more than doubled over the study period. Egyptian and world’s publications increased from year to year with rapid rise starting the year 2003. Egyptian as well as world’s human cancer publications showed the highest increases. Egyptian publications had some peculiarities; they showed some drop at the years 1994 and 2002 and apart from the decline in the animal: human ratio with time, all Egyptian publications in the period 1991-2000 were significantly more than those in 2001-2010 (P < 0.05 for all). By 2020, Egyptian biomedical and cancer publications will increase by 158.7% and 280% relative to 2010 to constitute 0.34% and 0.17% of total PubMed publications, respectively.

Conclusions

The Egyptian contribution to world’s biomedical and cancer publications needs significant improvements through research strategic planning, setting national research priorities, adequate funding and researchers’ training.

Keywords

Egypt PubMed Biomedical research Cancer research Bibliometrics

Background

The size of the biomedical literature has grown exponentially over the past few years [1]. The PubMed is a database of publications and abstracts for biomedical literature in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences. It was developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [2]. In addition to the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE), PubMed provides access to old publications that are not converted to MEDLINE status, publications that precede the date of their journal were selected for MEDLINE indexing, publications for articles before Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) indexing and hence MEDLINE indexing, out-of-scope articles from certain MEDLINE journals and publications to some life science journals that are qualitatively reviewed by the National Library of medicine (NLM) [3]. The PubMed contains 24667 “only-PubMed” journal titles and 5591 journal titles “currently indexed for MEDLINE” as well as 8832 titles “previously indexed” and over time have ceased or changed titles [4, 5]. As of 15 June 2011, there were over 20.9 million records indexed through the PubMed and the year 2010 witnessed the addition of more than 900000 new records (in the PubMed search box, type “1800:2100[dp]” or “2010[dp]”).

PubMed is a free Web literature search service and is the first choice first choice for electronically searching and retrieving biomedical literature. Almost 5 million queries are issued to PubMed each day by users around the globe [6], who rely on such access to keep abreast of the state of the art and make discoveries in their own fields [7]. Analysis of PubMed publications as an indicator of the research productivity of individual countries, regions or institutions has recently become a field of interest [8].

Cancer is a major worldwide health problem being one of the four leading threats to human health and development (along with cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes). In 2008, more than 12 million people were diagnosed and more than 7 million people died of cancer. In 2030, these figures will nearly double. Almost, 55% of new cancer cases and 65% of cancer deaths occur in the less developed world regions, including Egypt [9].

Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations in history and its contribution to human’s knowledge cannot be denied. Azhar is one of the oldest world’s universities that was settled in the 10th century and Cairo university being the current biggest Egyptian university was established in 1908 [10, 11]. Four Egyptians won the Noble prize in Peace, Literature and Chemistry [12]. However, Egyptian current contribution to World’s biomedical publications seems low. Furthermore, there are no accessible comprehensive nation-wide publication databases through which all Egyptian literature can be traced accurately. The contribution of Egypt to the world’s biomedical publications in the PubMed increased from 0.09% in 1996 to 0.14% in 2006 [13] and over a decade (1992-2002), the quantitative growth of the Egyptian publications was 73% [14]. Egypt contributed about 17% of African articles and 30% of that of the Arab countries in the PubMed [15, 16]. To the best of our knowledge, no reports had quantified the Egyptian cancer publications nor compared that to the Worlds’ figures of biomedical and cancer publications.

The aims of this study were to compare past trends in PubMed-indexed biomedical and cancer publications from Egypt to that of the entire world between 1991 and 2010 and to predict future trends in 2011 through 2020. The outcome of this study may alert researchers as well as decision makers in Egypt and similar countries to the current situation in biomedical and cancer research and the required level they should aim at.

Methods

On the 25th of June 2011, the PubMed was searched using a methodology similar to that used in the literature [13, 17, 18]. The words “year: year[Date – Publication]” were typed in the research box. The word year was replaced by (1991:1991) through (2010:2010). This step retrieved the world’s total biomedical publications (WTBP) in the PubMed in the respective years. Then, the limits “Species = human” and “Species = animal” allowed retrieval of world’s human and animal biomedical publications (WHBP and WABP) in the PubMed, respectively. The limit “Subsets = Cancer” allowed retrieval of the world’s total cancer publications (WTBP) as well as the world’s human and animal cancer publications (WHCP and WACP) in the PubMed, respectively.

The above steps were then repeated with the affiliations limited to Egypt “Egypt[affiliation]”. This allowed retrieval of Egyptian total, human and animal biomedical publications in the PubMed (ETBP, EHBP and EABP, respectively) as well as Egyptian total, human and animal cancer publications (ETCP, EHCP and EACP, respectively).

Almost always, the total number of world’s publications was higher than the sum of its human and animal publications. This could be due to the presence of publications which could not be classified as animal or human (e.g. environmental research). Occasionally, the total number of Egyptian publications was lower than the sum of its human and animal publications. We manually revised the PubMed ID of these publications. Almost always, some publications had the same PubMed ID being classified as both animal and human at the same time. When this was encountered, they were reviewed and classified appropriately and the number of human or animal publications was changed accordingly. This happened for Egyptian human and animal cancer publications for the years 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2003 where 4, 7, 11, 4, 15 and 18 publications were classified as both human and animal. All were allocated to animal and removed from human publications of the respective years. Thus the number of human publications in the mentioned years is smaller than that the PubMed figures by a factor equal to the duplicate publications.

Statistical analysis

Analyses were done using SPSS® software version 15 and Microsoft® excel 2007. Categorical variables were presented as percentage and group differences were assessed using Chi squared test. Numerical variables were presented as means/medians and standard deviations (SD)/interquartile ranges (IQR) Why not range. Means and medians were compared using the t-test or the Mann Whitney U test, respectively. A probability (two-sided) equal to or less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

The annual percent change (APC) was calculated by dividing the difference between the number of publications in a particular year and that of its preceding year by the latter and converting to a percentage. Considering the nature of the dependent variable (count of publications in the coming years), Poisson regression model was used for prediction of future number of publications between 2011 and 2020.

Results

Between 1991 and 2010, there were 11 644 346 world biomedical publications listed in the PubMed (Table 1) with an annual mean (±SD) of 582 217 (±165 229). Of note, 2 696 136 publications were classified as being limited to the field of cancer (Table 2) with a mean (±SD) of 134 807 (±39 219). The percentage of cancer to total biomedical publications was almost stable (at ~23%) from 1991-2010. During the same period (1991-2010), there were 16835 biomedical publications listed in the PubMed with Egyptian affiliations with a median (IQR) of 668 (408-1096) (Table 1). Of note, 3928 publications (23.3%) were classified as being limited to the field of cancer with a median (IQR) of 125 (82-296) (Table 2). The percentage of Egyptian cancer to total biomedical publications increased from 16% in 1991 to 26% in 2010. Tables 1 and 2 shows the numbers of world’s and Egyptian publications retrieved from PubMed.
Table 1

Comparison between world’s and Egyptian biomedical publications listed in the PubMed database between 1991 and 2010

Year

World’s biomedical publications

Egyptian biomedical publications

Egypt: world

 

TB

HB

HB:TB%

AB

AB:TB%

TB

HB

HB:TB%

AB

AB:TB%

TB%

HB%

AB%

1991

407465

260956

64.0

110733

27.2

405

213

52.6

166

41.0

0.10

0.08

0.15

1992

412457

263753

63.9

111305

26.9

401

206

51.4

175

43.6

0.10

0.08

0.16

1993

420935

272842

64.8

113463

26.9

397

214

53.9

151

38.0

0.09

0.08

0.13

1994

431159

279339

64.8

117023

27.1

374

188

50.3

133

35.6

0.09

0.07

0.11

1995

441911

288261

65.2

118659

26.9

391

221

56.5

155

39.6

0.09

0.08

0.13

1996

451658

297744

65.9

119369

26.4

419

246

58.7

154

36.8

0.09

0.08

0.13

1997

450645

308457

68.5

121168

26.9

437

232

53.1

161

36.8

0.10

0.08

0.13

1998

468464

320319

68.4

124242

26.5

491

237

48.3

193

39.3

0.10

0.07

0.16

1999

486748

331268

68.1

125892

25.9

564

335

59.4

203

36.0

0.12

0.10

0.16

2000

527674

347170

65.8

132827

25.2

608

298

49.0

181

29.8

0.12

0.09

0.14

2001

542749

359194

66.2

135726

25.0

745

333

44.7

248

33.3

0.14

0.09

0.18

2002

559756

371142

66.3

140457

25.1

727

329

45.3

218

29.9

0.13

0.09

0.16

2003

590045

393435

66.7

146235

24.8

852

431

50.6

266

31.2

0.14

0.11

0.18

2004

634148

417840

65.9

154403

24.4

863

497

57.6

239

27.7

0.14

0.12

0.15

2005

694313

452729

65.2

165928

23.9

993

539

54.3

267

26.9

0.14

0.12

0.16

2006

739792

483368

65.3

178070

24.1

1131

607

53.7

296

26.1

0.15

0.13

0.17

2007

777249

507301

65.3

183230

23.6

1364

744

54.5

347

25.4

0.18

0.15

0.19

2008

825239

534925

64.8

190004

23.0

1564

865

55.3

374

23.9

0.19

0.16

0.20

2009

863722

552265

63.9

195160

22.6

1871

1042

55.7

465

24.8

0.22

0.19

0.24

2010

918217

526581

57.4

186026

20.3

2238

1128

50.4

483

21.8

0.24

0.21

0.26

Total

11644346

7568889

--

2869920

---

16835

8905

--

4875

--

--

--

--

Mean

582217

378444

65.3

143496

25.1

842

445

52.77

244

32.4

0.13

0.11

0.16

SD

165229

98951

2.3

29307

1.9

540

290

4.05

103

6.5

0.04

0.04

0.04

TB: number of total biomedical publications, HB: number of human biomedical publications, AB: number of animal biomedical publications, HB:TB%: human to total biomedical publications expressed as a percentage, AB:TB%: animal to total biomedical publications expressed as a percentage, TB%: Egyptian to world’s total biomedical publications expressed as percentage, HB%: Egyptian to world’s human biomedical publications expressed as percentage, AB%: Egyptian to world’s animal biomedical publications expressed as percentage, SD: standard deviation.

Table 2

Comparison between world’s and Egyptian cancer publications listed in the PubMed database between 1991 and 2010

Year

World’s cancer publications

Egyptian cancer publications

Egypt: world

 

TC

HC

HC:TC%

AC

AC:TC%

TC

HC

HC:TC%

AC

AC:TC%

TC%

HC%

AC%

1991

86770

65990

76.1

24003

27.7

67

43

64.2

21

31.3

0.08

0.07

0.09

1992

90268

68869

76.3

24895

27.6

81

50

61.7

26

32.1

0.09

0.07

0.10

1993

93822

72559

77.3

26358

28.1

76

48

63.2

23

30.3

0.08

0.07

0.09

1994

98468

76110

77.3

27777

28.2

75

50

66.7

23

30.7

0.08

0.07

0.08

1995

101286

78486

77.5

28937

28.6

81

45

55.6

29

35.8

0.08

0.06

0.10

1996

105241

82586

78.5

29743

28.3

86

57

66.3

26

30.2

0.08

0.07

0.09

1997

107363

84247

78.5

30227

28.2

83

64

77.1

19

22.9

0.08

0.08

0.06

1998

111551

88029

78.9

30841

27.7

106

61

57.5

43

40.6

0.10

0.07

0.14

1999

115159

91027

79.0

32197

27.9

120

70

58.3

43

35.8

0.10

0.08

0.13

2000

122177

96180

78.7

33815

27.7

117

72

61.5

44

37.6

0.10

0.07

0.13

2001

126058

100116

79.4

34713

27.5

136

84

61.8

48

35.3

0.11

0.08

0.14

2002

130928

104573

79.9

36238

27.7

129

82

63.6

42

32.6

0.10

0.08

0.12

2003

139492

112269

80.5

37568

26.9

188

123

65.4

56

29.8

0.13

0.11

0.15

2004

148903

119560

80.3

39903

26.8

215

167

77.6

46

21.4

0.14

0.14

0.12

2005

161317

132300

82.0

42635

26.4

252

198

78.6

49

19.4

0.16

0.03

0.11

2006

170712

138476

81.1

44875

26.3

311

247

79.4

63

20.3

0.18

0.18

0.14

2007

181512

147077

81.0

46885

25.8

321

240

74.7

67

20.9

0.18

0.16

0.14

2008

192402

155218

80.7

49064

25.5

409

289

70.6

84

20.5

0.21

0.19

0.17

2009

201089

160966

80.1

50845

25.3

485

341

70.3

116

23.9

0.24

0.21

0.23

2010

211618

156734

74.1

49894

23.6

590

384

65.1

130

22

0.28

0.25

0.26

Total

2696136

2131372

--

721413

--

3928

2715

--

998

--

--

--

--

Mean

134807

106569

78.9

36071

27.1

196

136

66.96

50

28.67

0.13

0.11

0.13

SD

39219

31721

1.9

8708

1.26

152

109

7.28

30

6.68

0.06

0.06

0.05

TC: number of total biomedical publications, HC: number of human biomedical publications, AC: number of animal biomedical publications, HC:TC%: human to total biomedical publications expressed as a percentage, AC:TC%: animal to total biomedical publications expressed as a percentage, TC%: Egyptian to world’s total cancer publications expressed as percentage, HC%: Egyptian to world’s human cancer publications expressed as percentage, AC%: Egyptian to world’s animal cancer publications expressed as percentage, SD: standard deviation.

Between 1991 and 2010, the mean contribution (±SD) of Egyptian biomedical publications to the worldwide PubMed publications was 0.13% (±0.04%). When classified into human and animal (Table 1), the figures were 0.11% (±0.04%) and 0.16% (±0.04%), respectively. The Egyptian contribution to biomedical publications increased by a factor of 2.4 from 1991 and 2010. Similarly, the Egyptian contribution to human and animal biomedical publications increased by factors of 2.6 and 1.7, respectively. The mean contribution (±SD) of Egyptian cancer publications to the worldwide cancer publications was 0.13% (±0.06%). When classified into human and animal, the figures were 0.11% (±0.06%) and 0.13% (±0.05%), respectively (Table 2). The Egyptian contribution to cancer publications increased by a factor of 3.5 from 1991 and 2010. Also, the Egyptian contribution to human and animal cancer publications increased by factors of 3.6 and 2.9, respectively.

When plotting the World total biomedical publications indexed in PubMed between 1991 and 2010 (Figure 1), it is evident there is progressive rise in all types of publications. Furthermore, the pace of rise is more evident since the year 2003. Interestingly, cancer publications (all types) grew more than the biomedical publications. Also, there was a drop in the year 2010 in human and animal research whether it is biomedical or cancer related. Apart from slight drop in the years 1994 and 2002, Egyptian biomedical publications (total, human and animal) as well as cancer human publications showed continuous increase in numbers that is most marked in the most recent years particularly from the year 2005 onwards (Figure 2). However, cancer animal publications did not show the same pattern being almost stable throughout the evaluation period.
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1756-0500-5-349/MediaObjects/13104_2011_Article_2039_Fig1_HTML.jpg
Figure 1

Numbers of World biomedical and cancer publications indexed in the PubMed between 1991 and 2010 (W: world, T: total, H: human, A: animal, B: biomedical, C: cancer).

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1756-0500-5-349/MediaObjects/13104_2011_Article_2039_Fig2_HTML.jpg
Figure 2

Numbers of Egyptian biomedical and cancer publications indexed in the PubMed between 1991 and 2010 (E: Egypt, T: total, H: human, A: animal, B: biomedical, C: cancer).

The study duration was divided into two periods; period 1 (1991-2000) and period 2 (2001-2010) (Table 3). For period 1, the Egyptian total biomedical publications were 4487 of which 892 (19.9%) were cancer related. The median of the Egyptian biomedical and cancer-related publications (IQR) were 412 (396-509) and 82 (76-109), respectively. For period 2, the Egyptian total biomedical publications were 12348 of which 2848 (23.1%) were cancer related. The median number of the biomedical and cancer-related publications (IQR) were 1062 (825-1640) and 282 (175-428), respectively. The increase in the animal biomedical publications (by a factor of 1.9) was less than the increase in the total and human biomedical publications increased (factors of 2.8, and 2.7, respectively) in period 2 compared to period 1. Similarly the increase in animal cancer publications (factor of 2.4) was less than that of total and human cancer publications (factors of 3.2 and 3.8, respectively) in period 2 compared to period 1. Apart from human biomedical publications expressed as a percentage of the total, all other categories were significantly higher in period 2 than period 1 (P < 0.05 for all).
Table 3

Comparisons of Egyptian biomedical and cancer Publications listed in the PubMed database over two time periods (1991-2000 & 2001-2010)

Type of Publication

Period 1 (1991-2000)

Period 2 (2001-2010)

P value

 

Total

Mean ± SD

median (IQR)

Total

Mean ± SD

Median (IQR)

 

Egyptian biomedical publications

Total (n)

4487

449 ± 80

412 (396-509)

12348

1235 ± 515

1062 (825-1640)

<0.001*

Human (n)

2390

239 ± 44.8

226.5 (211-259)

6515

652 ± 284

573 (407-909)

<0.001*

Human: total (%)

 

53.3 ± 3.9

52.8 (50-57)

 

52.2 ± 4.4

54 (49-55)

0.56**

Animal (n)

1672

167.2 ± 21

163.5 (153-184)

3203

320 ± 94

282 (246-397)

<0.001**

Animal: total (%)

 

37.7 ± 3.7

37.4 (36-40)

 

27.1 ± 3.5

26.5 (25-30)

<0.001**

Egyptian cancer publications

Total

892

89 ± 18

82 (76-109)

2848

304 ± 152

282 (175-428)

<0.001*

Human (n)

560

56 ± 10.4

53.5 (47-66)

2155

216 ± 104

219 (113-302)

<0.001*

Human: total ( %)

 

63.2 ± 6.1

62.4 (58-66)

 

70.7 ± 6.6

70.5 (65-78)

0.017**

Animal (n)

297

29.7 ± 9.8

26 (23-43)

701

70 ± 30.6

60 (48-92)

<0.001*

Animal: total (%)

 

32.7 ± 4.9

31.7 (30-36)

 

24.6 ± 5.8

21.7 (21-31)

0.003**

Egyptian cancer: biomedical publications (%)

19.9

19.8 ± 1.5

20.2 (19-21)

23.1

23.8 ± 3.4

25.1 (21-26)

<0.001**

SD: standard deviation, IQR: inter-quartile range, * Mann-Whitney U test, ** t-test.

Between 1991 and 2010, the annual percentage change (APC) of world biomedical publication ranged between -0.22% and 9.49% with a mean of 4.4% and a median of 3.95%. For the first (91-2000) and second (2001-2010) decades, the mean APCs were 2.94% and 6.03% while the median APCs were 2.43% and 6.17%, respectively. Also between 1991 and 2010, the APC of world cancer publications ranged between 2.02% and 8.34% with a mean of 4.82% and a median of 4.52%. For the first and second decades, the mean APCs were 3.88% and 5.93% while the median APCs were 3.90% and 6.00%, respectively. Between 1991 and 2010, the APC of Egyptian biomedical publication ranged between -5.79% and 22.53% with a mean of 9.75% and a median of 12.36%. For the first and second decades, the mean APCs were 4.81% and 13.28% while the median APCs were 4.55% and 15.06%, respectively. Also between 1991 and 2010, the APC of Egyptian cancer publications ranged between -45.59% and 45.74% with a mean of 12.94% and a median of 17.21%. For the first and second decades, the mean APCs were 12.48% and 12.93% while the median APCs were 13.21% and 21.65%, respectively.

For future prediction of number of publications between 2011 and 202, Poisson regression model was used. The regression equations for the total world and Egyptian publications were {loge (Y) = -74.322 + 0.044*χ} and {loge (Y) = -205.315 + 0.106*χ}, respectively. Assuming all conditions will remain the same, using these equations, the total world biomedical publications in 2020 are expected to mount to 857548 (95% CI: 855507-859595) publications with a 62.9% increase relative to 2010 (Figure 3). The Egyptian biomedical publications in 2020 are expected to mount to 2918 (95% CI: 2726-3124) publications with a 158.7% increase relative to 2010. In 2020, Egyptian biomedical publications will constitute 0.34% of the world’s figure.
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1756-0500-5-349/MediaObjects/13104_2011_Article_2039_Fig3_HTML.jpg
Figure 3

Past and future trends in world’s biomedical and cancer publications between 1991 and 2020.

The regression equations for the world and Egyptian cancer publications were {loge (Y) = -88.510 + 0.050*χ} and {loge (Y) = -296.166 + 0.137*χ}, respectively. Assuming all conditions will remain the same, using these equations, the world cancer publications in 2020 are expected to mount to 271171 (95%CI: 269962-272386) publications with a 73% increase relative to 2010. The Egyptian cancer publications in 2020 are expected to mount to 1459 (95%CI: 1288-1654) publications with a 280% increase relative to 2010 (Figure 4). In 2020, Egyptian Cancer publications will constitute 0.17% of the world’s figure.
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1756-0500-5-349/MediaObjects/13104_2011_Article_2039_Fig4_HTML.jpg
Figure 4

Past and future trends in Egyptian biomedical and cancer publications between 1991 and 2020.

Discussion

Egypt is the “Land of Civilizations” and is reputed worldwide for its distinct 7,000-year-old record of civilization and immense wealth of knowledge [19]. Its 82-million population constitutes 1.2% of the total world’s population [20]. However, its contribution to the world’s biomedical research indexed in the PubMed is unexpectedly low being only 0.13%.This may not reflect accurately the total Egyptian publications as many of them may be published into PubMed non-indexed local journals that are available only in a printable form with no internet access. Language barriers may also hinder publishing Egyptian research [21]. One possible reason is the extremely low expenditure on research in Egypt that counts only to approximately 0.25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to 1.5-3% in developed countries [22]. The lack of researcher training is detrimental for research and subsequent publication. There is deficiency in the state-of-the art equipment. Moreover, not all the research institutions have clear research strategic plans [23]. Despite most of the Egyptian research budget is allocated to salaries of the administrators [21], Egyptian researchers are among the worst paid researchers in the Middle-East. The poor researchers mostly lack motivation [23]. Faced with lots of home-country difficulties, many excellent Egyptian researchers find their way in North America and Western Europe where they are welcomed and find good scientific atmosphere to perform high-end research that counts to these new countries. This brain drain deprives Egypt from the ability to build an advanced scientific community [21].

Our analysis showed that worldwide cancer publications account to almost one quarter of the total biomedical publications. This reflects the recognition of cancer as a major problem particularly in developed countries where cancer lies very high in top causes of mortality lists [24] as well as allocation of the needed resources as well as the strategic plans. The Egyptian cancer publications increased relative to total biomedical publications from 16% in 1991 to 26% in 2010. This could reflect the increasing awareness among Egyptian researchers of the cancer problem particularly the prevailing hepatocelluar and bladder carcinomas that are related to HCV endemic infection as well as the occupational exposure of farmers to Schistosoma mansoni [25]. This could also be explained by the ease in the availability of pathological applications and the study of biochemical markers that allow human-only research. Another reason could also be a shift in studying animals in relation to infectious disorders rather than to cancers as observed in the last decade.

Despite the progressive increase in publication numbers, world human biomedical and cancer publications represented fairly constant proportions of the total publications (~65% and 77%, respectively). The same was true for world animal biomedical and cancer publications (~25% for both). While the Egyptian human biomedical publications remained constant at ~50% of the total, that for cancer increased slightly from 64% to 70%. Egyptian animal biomedical publications showed progressive decline from 41% in 1991 to 22% in 2010. The same was also noted for animal cancer publications (31% in 1991 and 22% in 2010). The reasons of decline in Egyptian animal publications are unknown. However, limited availability particularly of the special strains, higher costs, the relative lack of animal breeding and housekeeping facilities coupled with a possible vanishing interest in animal research can possibly explain for such observation. Nevertheless, this should be investigated and corrective actions be taken as animal research can significantly save humans.

All types of world publications showed progressive increase with time. However this increase showed a higher pace starting the year 2003. The reason for this may be due to the progressive increase in research spending for life sciences particularly in the years 2001 and 2002 that is maintained thereafter [26]. Moreover, indexing coverage increased with time and the year 2003 witnessed the addition of 1.7 million old Medline citations to the PubMed database [27] World Biomedical and cancer human as well as animal publications showed decline in 2010. However, this observation may reflect that some publications may be still in the process of being added to the PubMed database. A late impact of the global financial crisis cannot be excluded completely. Follow up in a year or two may clarify this issue.

Egyptian publications showed progressive increase that was slight till the year 2002 when the rise was marked. While this can reflect a true rise, it can also reflect more publications in PubMed-indexed journals. The decline in Egyptian publications in the years 1994 and 2002 followed periods of economical difficulties [28, 29] so that funding research that is almost completely state-dependent was determined.

Assuming all current conditions remain the same, it is expected that Egyptian biomedical and cancer publications will increase at a pace higher than that of the world. This will represent a catch-up phenomenon as the Egyptian publications are currently very low. To increase Egyptian publications from the current 0.24% to the desired 1.2% of the world’s publication to match the Egyptian/world’s total population, several actions have to be taken. Researchers move to PubMed-indexed and online journals can have rapid effects. Providing technical help for the so many local journals to be indexed as well as available on the internet will be also of help. Research strategic planning and setting national research priorities (e.g. HCV, HCC, Bilhariziasis) will be of great impact. Adequate funding of biomedical and cancer research with more participation of the private sector and the non-governmental organizations are eagerly needed. At the same time animal research needs to improve. Researchers’ training and awareness are of utmost importance. Setting animal breeding and housing facilities, importing and expanding unique animal strains will be of great help. Sharing equipment and adopting the concept of central research laboratories may also be of help.

The current study has some limitations. It was limited to PubMed indexed publications and the search was done on 25th June 2011. Any PubMed search repeated on a later day may yield different results, typically higher, as NLM may have processed more completed citations for various reasons, e.g., time lag in receipt, or a new journal for indexing going back to volume 1, or data from back issues such as those deposited in PubMed Central, or from other sources [30] The 19 million articles included in the PubMed do not represent the world total but rather a fraction that covers the period from 1950 to present. Only 30-80% of all known published randomized trials were identifiable using MEDLINE [31]. Relying exclusively on a MEDLINE search may retrieve a set of reports unrepresentative of all reports that would have been identified through a comprehensive search of several sources [32]. Databases, other than PubMed, are also available including Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar. Scopus covers a wider journal range includes more entries but with limited access to subscribers only. Web of Science have entries that date back to 1900 but with limited access to subscribers. Google Scholar presents all the benefits and drawbacks of the WWW [33].

Unequal indexing of publications by language and geography occurs across databases [34]. The PubMed considers many critical elements for a journal to be indexed. In addition, foreign language journals must contain an English-language abstract to be indexed. A journal may not be indexed being published for a local audience. Moreover, journal editors should submit an application to be indexed [35]. The current study did not identify many Egyptian articles that are not included in the PubMed databases. Thus, we believe that the Egyptian articles included in this review are lower than reality. However, there is no such an accessible and a comprehensive national database to quantify this sector. Another important aspect is that we identified Egyptian article through their affiliation to an Egyptian Institution. We could have missed entries that did not accurately affiliate and the work done by Egyptian researchers affiliated to non-Egyptian Institutions.

In conclusion, despite that Egyptian publications had increased markedly from 1991 to 2010, yet its contribution to the world’s overall publications needs be leveraged to match Egypt’s value as the “Land of Civilization”. Several actions need to be taken to achieve the desired research volumes.

Declarations

Acknowledgements and Funding

This work is investigator initiated with no support from an external body or authority.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Medical Oncology/Hematology, National Cancer Institute, Cairo University, Fom El Khalig
(2)
Medical Biochemistry, National Cancer Institute, Cairo University
(3)
Biostatistics & Cancer Epidemiology, National Cancer Institute, Cairo University

References

  1. Hunter L, Cohen KB: Biomedical language processing: what's beyond PubMed?. Mol Cell. 2006, 21: 589-594. 10.1016/j.molcel.2006.02.012.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, US: PubMed Help, Bethesda (MD). 2005, [online] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3830/ (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  3. National Library of Medicine, US: Fact sheet; PubMed: MEDLINE Retrieval on the World Wide Web. 2010, [online]. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/pubmed.html (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  4. National Library of Medicine, US: List of Serials Indexed for Online Users. 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/tsd/serials/lsiou.html (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  5. National Library of Medicine, US: NLM catalog, journal subset. 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/limits (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  6. IslamajDogan R, Murray GC, Neveol A, et al: Understanding PubMed user search behavior through log analysis. Database. 2009, 10.1093/database/bap018. [online] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797455/?tool=pubmed (accessed 15 June)Google Scholar
  7. Lu Z: PubMed and beyond: a survey of web tools for searching literature. Database 2011 (Oxford). 2011, 10.1093/database/baq036. Jan 18;2011:baq036. Print 2011. [online] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025693/ (accessed 15 June)Google Scholar
  8. Tutarel O: Geographical distribution of publications in the field of medical education. BMC Med Educ. 2002, 2 (1): 3-10. 10.1186/1472-6920-2-3.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM: GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10. 2010, Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer [online]. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr. (Accessed 25 June 2012)Google Scholar
  10. Azhar University: History. 2009, [online]. Available at: http://www.azhar.edu.eg/pages/history2.htm (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  11. Cairo University: About. 2009, [online]. Available at: http://cuportal.cu.edu.eg/ (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  12. Nobelprize.org: All Nobel Prizes. 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/all/ (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  13. Afifi M: Egyptian Biomedical Publications in PubMed, 1996-2005. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2007, 82 (1–2): 91-104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ghaleh NR, Siadat F, Azizi F: Quantitative and qualitative assessment of biomedical publications from Iran, Pakistan and Egypt through their impact factor. J Pak Med Assoc. 2004, 54 (10): 528-9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Uthman OA, Uthman MB: Geography of Africa biomedical publications: an analysis of 1996-2005 PubMed papers. Int J Health Geogr. 2007, 6: 46-56. 10.1186/1476-072X-6-46.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  16. Shaban SF, Abu-Zidan FM: A quantitative analysis of medical publications from Arab countries. Saudi Med J. 2003, 24 (3): 294-6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Bissar-Tadmouri N, Tadmouri GO: Bibliometric analyses of biomedical research outputs in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (1988-2007). Saudi Med J. 2009, 30 (1): 130-9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Glynn RW, Chin JZ, Kerin MJ, Sweeney KJ: Representation of cancer in the medical literature--a bibliometric analysis. Representation of cancer in the medical literature--a bibliometric analysis. PLoS One. 2010, 5 (11): e13902-10.1371/journal.pone.0013902.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  19. Egypt State Information Service: Egypt: Land & People. 2011, [online]. Available at: http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Story.aspx?sid=1 (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  20. US Census Bureau: U.S. & World Population Clocks. 2010, [online]. Available at: http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  21. Aboulghar M: Barriers to conducting clinical research in reproductive medicine: Egypt. Fertil Steril. 2011, 96 (4): 805-6. 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.08.044.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  22. World Bank: Indicators. 2011, [online]. Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/GB.XPD.RSDV.GD.ZS (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  23. Belal A, Springuel I: Research in Egyptian universities: the role of research in higher education.  , Presentation at UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge, November 29 – December 1, 2006 [online]. Available at: http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/files/51625/11634283495Springuel-EN.pdf/Springuel-EN.pdf (accessed 15 June 2011)
  24. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Leading Causes of Death. 2007, [online]. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  25. Gharbiah Population-based Cancer Registry: Cancer Profile in Gharbiah-Egypt: Methodology and Results 1999. 2002, The Middle East Cancer Consortium, Ministry of Health and Population, EgyptGoogle Scholar
  26. National Science Foundation: Science and engineering indicators. 2010, [online]. Chapter available at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/c4/c4h.htm & figure available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=graphic-science-funding (accessed 15 June 2011)Google Scholar
  27. National Library of Medicine, US: PubMed Celebrates its 10th Anniversary. 2006, [online]. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/so06/so06_pm_10.html (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  28. Rivilin P: Egypt's demographic challenges and economic responses. MERIA Journal. 2003, 7 (4): [online] available at: http://www.gloria-center.org/meria/2003/12/rivlin.pdf (accessed 8 Feb 2013)Google Scholar
  29. Ministry of Finance, Egypt: Egyptian Economic Monitor. 2010, [Online] available at: http://www.mof.gov.eg/MOFGallerySource/English/PDF/Monitor_Dec_web.pdf (accessed 15 June 2011), December , volume II, No. 2Google Scholar
  30. National Library of Medicine, US: MEDLINE Citation Counts by Year of Publication. 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/medline_cit_counts_yr_pub.html (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar
  31. Dickersin K, Scherer R, Lefebvre C: Identifying relevant studies for systematic reviews. BMJ. 1994, 309 (6964): 1286-91. 10.1136/bmj.309.6964.1286.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  32. Higgins JPT, Green S: Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. 2008, The Cochrane Collaboration [online]. Available at: http://www.cochrane-handbook.org (accessed 20 May 2012)View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  33. Falagas ME, Pitsouni EI, Malietzis GA, Pappas G: Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB J. 2008, 22 (2): 338-42.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  34. Elsevier: All Bibliographic Databases. 2013, [online]. Available at: http://www.elsevier.com/bibliographic-databases (accessed 8 February 2013)Google Scholar
  35. National Library of Medicine, US: Fact Sheet; MEDLINE Journal Selection. 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/jsel.html (accessed 20 May, 2012)Google Scholar

Copyright

© Zeeneldin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Advertisement