A team from England and the Netherlands investigated the volume and potential impact of gastroenterology research outputs from 14 developed countries.
All research conducted between 1985 and 1998 was included.
The researchers also examined the overlap with research in cancer, infectious diseases, and genetics, and the funding sources for this research.
In addition, they determined whether countries' research outputs correlated with their burden of corresponding diseases and inputs to their research.
Selective retrieval of papers from the Science Citation Index and manual look up of a sample, to determine funding sources, was conducted.
Journals were classified according to four categories of research level (clinical/basic) and potential impact (low/high).
The team found that gastroenterology represented about 8% of world biomedical research, but over 11% in Italy, Japan, and Spain.
|Impact of US gastroenterology research was highest.|
Its potential impact was highest (but declining) in the USA.
It was found to have increased noticeably in most European countries, particularly in Finland.
Gastroenterology research has become more clinical in Japan, Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands. However, it has become more basic in Canada, Germany, Finland, Israel, and South Africa.
The researchers also found that funding primarily came from national governments, followed by national private non-profit sources and industry. Little industrial funding occurred in some countries.
There was a strong and positive correlation between reported deaths from gastrointestinal neoplasms and the countries' outputs of research in gastrointestinal oncology.
Professor G Lewison, of City University, London, England, concluded on behalf of fellow authors, "Bibliometric analysis can reveal differences between countries in their research in a subject when a common methodology is applied to an international database.
"Variations in research methods in different countries can plausibly explain some of the variation in the potential impact of the work."