Background: In 1993 a first study on the scientific production of Spain in 1986-1989 on Biomedicine and Health Sciences, through the Science Citation Index (SCI) was published. The analysis attained the level of centres, with special emphasis in those related to the Health Care System. This paper analyses the period 1990-1993, offers a wider coverage including the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) database, and compares both time periods.
Material and methods: Documents indexed by SCI and SSCI, CD-ROM version, with at least one Spanish address, published in biomedical and medical journals during the years 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993, have been studied. Quantitative and qualitative bibliometric indicators for the analysis by subject matter, geographic distribution, institutional sector and centre of origin have been used. Global data were also analysed according to economic and human resources.
Results: A total of 21,434 documents were studied, of which 67.9% were journal articles. The highest contributors were Universities (48.8% of the documents) and Hospitals (45.3%). The autonomous communities of Madrid (31.9%) and Catalonia (26.9%) concentrate more than half the production-developed principally by hospitals-followed by Andalucía (11.7%) and C. Valenciana (7.8%). The most active disciplines were biochemistry/molecular biology (13%), neurosciences/neurology (8.4%), pharmacology/pharmacy (8.4%) and medicine, general/internal (7.9%). Comparing the results with period 1986-1989, some of the differences observed could be explained by the fact of MEDICINA CLINICA being included in SCI since 1992. An increase in the number of citable items (72.9%), number of journals used (from 1,086 to 1,346) and international cooperation rate (13.5% to 18.3%) was detected. The institutional sectors with the highest growth rate were Hospitals (92.9%) and Consejo Superior de investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) (119.3%). Scientific production and visibility of publications (measured as impact factor of journals used) grew in most disciplines, being the quantitative increase greater in cancer/oncology, gastroenterology/hepatology, genetics/heredity and cardiovascular system. No substantial changes as to geographic distribution of documents or most active centres were observed.
Conclusions: Spanish scientific activity grew steadily every year and its visibility improved, being the Health sector one of the main actors. When comparing both four-year period. Spain moved up from the seventh to the sixth position in the ranking of EU countries according to its scientific output in biomedicine and health sciences.