Evaluation of research topic evolution in psychiatry using co-word analysis

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With the rapid increase in the incidence of mental disorders and mental issues, psychiatry has become one of the fastest growing clinical medical disciplines. Development priorities and research foci in this field have evolved over different periods.

All the articles in 10 psychiatric journals with the highest impact factors were selected from the Science Citation Index (SCI) in Web of Science from 2001 to 2015. The information visualization software Sci2 was used to conduct co-word and clustering analyses on these articles. The articles were divided into 3 periods: 2001 to 2005, 2006 to 2010, and 2011 to 2015. Each bibliographic record contained a title, author names, abstract, keywords, references, and other information.

During the 3 periods between 2001 and 2015, child and adolescent psychiatry, major depression, schizophrenia, and prefrontal cortex were constant research foci. The brain and meta-analysis gradually became new research foci, although research on symptoms slowly decreased. Molecular genetics was also an area of interest.

Using scientometrics technology to visualize research foci can provide us with new ideas and research methods. Co-word analysis for the preliminary exploration of research foci and developmental trends in psychiatry is helpful in finding developmental rules, choices of topics, and innovative research. Our study had some limitations. In the future, we should expand our research scope and use a variety of research methods to enrich our results.

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