Letters to the editor on the Zika virus: a bibliometric analysis

J Med Libr Assoc. 2021 Apr 1;109(2):301-310. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2021.903.


Objective: To conduct a bibliometric analysis of Letters to the Editor published on the Zika virus from 1952-2018.

Methods: A PubMed search was conducted using the terms (Zika OR ZIKV). Results were limited to 1952-2018 and Publication Type = Letter. Results were exported to EndNote, and the full text of each Letter examined. Each Letter was assigned to one of five categories: Reader Response, Author Reply, Observation, Case Report, or Research. Additional study parameters included number of authors, number of references, use of graphics, and funding. Citation reports were generated for each category and the entire dataset, producing lists sorted by Times Cited.

Results: Of 499 Letters, only 15 (3.0%) were published before 2016. In 2016, at the height of the Zika virus epidemic in the Americas, 244 (48.9%) Letters were published, dropping to 145 (29.1%) in 2017 and 95 (19.0%) in 2018. Letters included 149 (29.9%) Reader Responses, 56 (11.2%) Author Replies, 112 (22.4%) Observations, 70 (14.0%) Case Reports, and 112 (22.4%) Research. The Letters were written by 1-35 authors; 369 (74.0%) Letters had 1-5 authors, and 130 (26.0%) had 6 or more. The Letters cited 0-63 references, with an average of 7.0 per Letter. Graphics appeared in 192 (38.5%) Letters, and 77 (15.4%) Letters reported funding. An interesting anomaly was the 104 (20.8%) Letters authored or co-authored by 1 individual.

Conclusion: Letters to the Editor remain an important component of scientific communication and may serve as a valuable source of clinical and research information.

Keywords: Letters to the Editor; bibliometric analysis; bibliometrics.