Highly cited works in neurosurgery. Part II: the citation classics

J Neurosurg 112:233–246, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.12.JNS091600)

Object. The term “citation classic” has been used in reference to an article that has been cited more than 400 times. The purpose of this study is to identify such articles that pertain to clinical neurosurgery.

Methods. A list of search phrases relating to neurosurgery was compiled. A topic search was performed using the Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science for phrases. Articles with more than 400 citations were identified, and nonclinical articles were omitted. The journals, year of publication, topics, and study types were analyzed.

Results. There were 106 articles with more than 400 citations relating to clinical neurosurgery. These articles appeared in 28 different journals, with more than half appearing in the Journal of Neurosurgery or the New England Journal of Medicine. Fifty-three articles were published since 1990. There were 38 articles on cerebrovascular disease, 21 on stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, 21 on neurooncology, 19 on trauma, 4 on nontraumatic spine, 2 on CSF pathologies, and 1 on infection. There were 29 randomized trials, of which 86% appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, or the Journal of the American Medical Association, and half concerned the prevention or treatment of stroke. In addition, there were 16 prospective studies, 15 classification or grading systems, and 7 reviews. The remaining 39 articles were case series, case reports, or technical notes.

Conclusions. More than half of the citation classics identified in this study have been published in the past 20 years. Case series, classifications, and reviews appeared more frequently in neurosurgical journals, while randomized controlled trials tended to be published in general medical journals.

Highly cited works in neurosurgery. Part I: the 100 top-cited papers in neurosurgical journals

J Neurosurg 112:223–232, 2010.(DOI: 10.3171/2009.12.JNS091599)

Object. The number of citations a published article receives is a measure of its impact in the scientific community. This study identifies and characterizes the current 100 top-cited articles in journals specifically dedicated to neurosurgery.

Methods. Neurosurgical journals were identified using the Institute for Scientific Information Journal Citation Reports. A search was performed using Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science for articles appearing in each of these journals. The 100 top-cited articles were selected and analyzed.

Results. The 100 most cited manuscripts in neurosurgical journals appeared in 3 of 13 journals dedicated to neurosurgery. These included 79 in the Journal of Neurosurgery, 11 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, and 10 in Neurosurgery. The individual citation counts for these articles ranged from 287 to 1515. Seventy- seven percent of articles were published between 1976 and 1995. Representation varied widely across neurosurgical disciplines, with cerebrovascular diseases leading (43 articles), followed by trauma (27 articles), stereotactic and functional neurosurgery (13 articles), and neurooncology (12 articles). The study types included 5 randomized trials, 5 cooperative studies, 1 observational cohort study, 69 case series, 8 review articles, and 12 animal studies. Thirty articles dealt with surgical management and 12 with nonsurgical management. There were 15 studies of natural history of disease or outcomes after trauma, 11 classification or grading scales, and 10 studies of human pathophysiology.

Conclusions. The most cited articles in neurosurgical journals are trials evaluating surgical or medical therapies, descriptions of novel techniques, or systems for classifying or grading disease. The time of publication, field of study, nature of the work, and the journal in which the work appears are possible determinants of the likelihood of citation and impact.

Use of the h index in neurosurgery

Journal of Neurosurgery, Aug 2009, Vol. 111, No. 2, Pages 387-392

Assessing academic productivity through simple quantification may overlook key information, and the use of statistical enumeration of academic output is growing. The h index, which incorporates both the total number of publications and the citations of those publications, has been recently proposed as an objective measure of academic productivity. The authors used several tools to calculate the h index for academic neurosurgeons to provide a basis for evaluating publishing by physicians.

The h index of randomly selected academic neurosurgeons from a sample of one-third of the academic programs in the US was calculated using data from Google Scholar and from the Scopus database. The mean h index for each academic rank was determined. The h indices were also correlated with various other factors (such as time spent practicing neurosurgery, authorship position) to identify how these factors influenced the h index. The h indices were then compared with other citation statistics to evaluate the robustness of this metric. Finally, h indices were also calculated for a sampling of physicians in other medical specialties for comparison.

As expected, the h index increased with academic rank and there was a statistically significant difference between each rank. A weighting based on position of authorship did not affect h indices. The h index was positively correlated with time since American Board of Neurological Surgery certification, and it was also correlated with other citation metrics. A comparison among medical specialties supports the assertion that h index values may not be comparable between fields, even closely related specialties.

The h index appears to be a robust statistic for comparing academic output of neurosurgeons. Within the field of academic neurosurgery, clear differences of h indices between academic ranks exist. On average, an increase of the h index by 5 appears to correspond to the next highest academic rank, with the exception of chairperson. The h index can be used as a tool, along with other evaluations, to evaluate an individual’s productivity in the academic advancement process within the field of neurosurgery but should not be used for comparisons across medical specialties.