Background:The Model Systems in spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and burn injury (Burn) are clinical centres of excellence funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), US Department of Health and Human Services.Supported by the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), they conduct systematic reviews of evidence.
Objectives: Demonstrate the value of bibliometric measures for evaluating the impact of systematic reviews and the quality of studies included in systematic reviews.
Methods:Researchers conducted a bibliometric analysis of systematic reviews using Web of Science databases. Impact was measured by examining levels and trends in citation and journal quality indicators. In addition, the quality and impact of the original studies included the systematic reviews were examined through citation levels and metrics such as journal impact factor scores, journal ranking, and author h-index trends.
Results:The MSKTC-supported systematic reviews were cited consistently, in some cases with increased frequency in recent years. The level of citation is tied to the number of years since publication. Newer publications accrue limited citations due to publication lag and a lag in reporting in the Web of Science; the typical lag time was 2 years. Reviews were cited most frequently in rehabilitation journals and penetrated into related topical fields such as sport sciences, clinical care specialties, gerontology, or health policy. They crossed research and practical audiences, and included non-English language publications.This suggests that these reviews have had broad impact outside core topical fields and may impact research, clinical care, and policy. The analysis also revealed that the articles included in the reviews tend to be published in highly ranked, higher-impact journals and are frequently cited.
Conclusions: Bibliometric analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating the quality and impact of systematic reviews. Because of publication and citation reporting lag time, researchers may need to wait at least two years before beginning a bibliometric evaluation.