Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a virus that causes severe viral pneumonia in humans, known to have a high mortality rate and a similarity in clinical symptoms with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. It was first isolated in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in 2012 and after that, MERS-CoV exhibited outbreaks in several regions of the world. This study aimed to assess the characteristics of publications involving MERS-CoV at global level by using a bibliometric analysis.
Scopus database was searched on March 4, 2016 for MERS-CoV publications published between 2012 and 2015. It was performed on the same day in order to avoid the possible bias came from update on the database because the metrics are changing over time. All publication types were considered; however publications as errata were excluded. Analysis parameters include year of publication, publication type, patterns of international collaboration, research institutions, journals, impact factor, h-index, language, and times cited.
A total of 883 MERS-CoV research publications were published across the world. The MERS-CoV-associated publications were originated from 92 countries/territories, indicating the international spread of MERS-CoV research. The USA was the largest contributor, with 319 articles published over 4 years, followed by KSA (113 articles). The total number of citations for these publications has already achieved 8,015, with an average of 9.01 citations per each publication. The h-index for MERS-CoV-associated publications was 48. The USA also have the highest h-index (32), followed by KSA (26) and UK (22). Netherland produced the greatest proportion of publications with international research collaboration (72.7 %) followed by the UK (71 %) and Germany (69.1 %) out of the total number of publications for each country.
There is a rapid increase in research activities related to MERS-CoV from 2012 to 2015. This study demonstrates that the MERS-CoV related literature has grown to be more extensive and global over the past 4 years. The bulk of publications in the field of MERS-CoV research are published by high-income countries such as the USA. Furthermore, the USA, the UK and KSA may have higher quality of articles according to the value of h-index.