This study was designed to evaluate the global scientific output of acupuncture research in the Science Citation Index-Expanded and to assess the tendencies and research performances of leading countries/territories and institutes. Articles referring to acupuncture were assessed by distribution of document types, languages, journals, subject categories, source countries, and source institutes. Results showed that 15 languages were represented in articles from 65 countries/territories. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published the most articles, followed by American Journal of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research which were listed in category of integrative & complementary medicine. In the study period of 1991-2009, USA was the top producing country, followed by China (mainland) with a sharply growth trend. In 2009, publication of China (mainland) ranked top one in the world. In addition, an acupuncture research trend was found in two phases in terms of the increase of number of SCI-expanded journals' articles. Among the acupuncture research, pain control has been the most prevalent direction of study, and brain imaging is attracting the most recent attention.
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