Sex! (A bibliometric analysis)


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Whether it is an obsession with the fringes of normal, a tingling disgust over the whole topic, or simply a never-ending struggle for the chance to participate, the topic of sex and sexuality is common fodder for almost every conceivable communication medium.  The world’s hunger for news on this hot-button topic is never slaked, and with the explosion of information sharing over the Internet in modern times, SEX is still one of the most effective way to attract readers for one’s content.

When we search PubMed for “sexuality” we find 96,769 articles appearing on the topic.  This covers all of the medical literature covered since 1951. 

The Web of Science (SCIE 2002-2010) shows a set of 2813 items on the topic of sexuality.  The US shows a lead in this research, being involved in 25% of the publishing articles, but as the Web of Science content includes the US on the majority of its published articles, this figure is actually relatively low.

Countries listed in author addresses for source articles on "sexuality" in WoS

There are perhaps no surprises here, with the Western research powerhouses dominating the research.  What is interesting is that none of the major Asian research countries appear on this list. 

In fact, Japan appears 11th, appearing in 2.17% of the literature, while China appears 19th (1.39%), and Korea and Taiwan tie for 25th (0.75% each).These figures may demonstrate the less-open atmosphere in these countries when it comes to discussing sex and sexuality.

Institutions funding sexuality research are largely in the US, as might be expected, but all of the below agencies have supplied grant funding for “sexuality” as tracked by ISI:

  • NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
  • NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
  • AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
  • NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH
  • NSF
  • ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC
  • CZECH SCIENCE FOUNDATION
  • EUROPEAN UNION
  • 1991 PHARMACY FOUNDATION
  • ACADEMY OF FINLAND
  • BAYER
  • CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
  • E DANIELSEN AND WIFE S FOUNDATION
  • ELI LILLY
  • EMMERICK MEYER S TRUST
  • FRIMODT HEINEKEN FOUNDATION
  • GOODWILL FONDEN
  • HEDE NIELSEN FAMILY FOUNDATION
  • JL FOUNDATION
  • NIH
  • PETRUS ANDERSENS FOND
  • PFIZER
  • SWEDISH RESEARCH COUNCIL

Subject areas of journals publishing on the topic of "sexuality"

The research is performed by many different institutions, and is published in journals under many disparate disciplines.  Although we have filtered out topics pertaining to gender with the use of the term “sexuality”, we are still seeing the abundance in topic areas covered under Medical Sciences:

  • UROLOGY & NEPHROLOGY 9.26%
  • OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY 8.63%
  • ONCOLOGY 5.33%
  • MEDICINE, GENERAL & INTERNAL 3.69%
  • PEDIATRICS 3.65%
  • CLINICAL NEUROLOGY 2.51%
  • ENDOCRINOLOGY & METABOLISM 1.77%
  • GERIATRICS & GERONTOLOGY 1.75%
  • NEUROSCIENCES 1.66%
  • IMMUNOLOGY 1.05%

The next largest category, Health Sciences, has an interesting range of subject areas researching sexuality:

  • PUBLIC, ENVIRONMENTAL & OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH 6.79%
  • NURSING 5.20%
  • HEALTH CARE SCIENCES & SERVICES 1.88%
  • REHABILITATION 1.53%
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASES 1.35%
  • SPORT SCIENCES 0.68%
  • HEALTH POLICY & SERVICES 0.59%
  • PRIMARY HEALTH CARE 0.46%
  • SUBSTANCE ABUSE 0.37%
  • HOSPITALITY, LEISURE, SPORT & TOURISM 0.28%

Biological and other “hard sciences” make the list much more interesting covering more diverse topics than one might originally guess, though each subject area has a smaller individual influence on the literature:

  • PLANT SCIENCES 1.90%
  • SOCIAL SCIENCES, BIOMEDICAL 1.57%
  • REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY 1.46%
  • MARINE & FRESHWATER BIOLOGY 1.40%
  • EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY 1.25%
  • GENETICS & HEREDITY 1.14%
  • ECOLOGY 0.98%
  • BIOLOGY 0.72%
  • BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 0.70%
  • PHARMACOLOGY & PHARMACY 0.66%
  • ZOOLOGY 0.52%
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES 0.48%
  • BIOPHYSICS 0.37%
  • MICROBIOLOGY 0.35%
  • CELL BIOLOGY 0.22%

The Psychiatric Sciences are also well represented:

  • PSYCHIATRY 4.46%
  • PSYCHOLOGY 2.75%
  • PSYCHOLOGY, DEVELOPMENTAL 1.64%
  • PSYCHOLOGY, MULTIDISCIPLINARY 1.62%
  • PSYCHOLOGY, CLINICAL 1.03%
  • BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES 0.98%
  • PSYCHOLOGY, BIOLOGICAL 0.57%
  • SOCIOLOGY 0.20%

Finally, there are other subject areas covered by journals publishing on the topic of sexuality:

  • HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 1.14%
  • MULTIDISCIPLINARY SCIENCES 0.83%
  • EDUCATION, SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES 0.66%
  • EDUCATION & EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH 0.48%
  • WOMEN’S STUDIES 0.24%
  • MEDICAL ETHICS 0.22%
  • SOCIAL SCIENCES, INTERDISCIPLINARY 0.20%
  • AGRONOMY 0.17%
  • ECONOMICS 0.15%
  • ETHICS 0.15%

All of this is very interesting, but I know you tune in for the citation patterns.  Citations tell us who is reading this research, and possibly how they are applying it.  In the case of sexuality, the citations to the research are even more interesting than the research itself.

As we saw for the time period there were 2813 source articles in the Web of Science.  Those articles, in the same time frame, have received 18,995 citations, an average of 6.75 citations for each article.  In addition, the dataset has an H-Index of 54, meaning 54 articles were cited 54 or more times each.

The most highly cited articles may not have the most titillating titles, but they certainly have attracted the attentions of the scholarly scientific community:

 Rank Title Source Title Total Cites Avg per Yr
1 A study of sexuality and health among older adults in the United States NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 185 37
2 The multinational Men’s Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study: I. Prevalence of erectile dysfunction and related health concerns in the general population CURRENT MEDICAL RESEARCH AND OPINION 161 20.12
3 Androgens improve cavernous vasodilation and response to sildenafil in patients with erectile dysfunction CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY 145 16.11
4 Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: US results from the Women’s International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS) MENOPAUSE-THE JOURNAL OF THE NORTH AMERICAN MENOPAUSE SOCIETY 106 17.67
5 Hormones, mood, sexuality  and the menopausal transition FERTILITY AND STERILITY 106 10.6
6 Quality of life and erectile dysfunction UROLOGY 101 10.1
7 Genetic diversity,  clonality and sexuality in Toxoplasma gondii INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR PARASITOLOGY 98 12.25
8 Phylogenetic relationships between parthenogens and their sexual relatives: the possible routes to parthenogenesis in animals BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY 93 10.33
9 Sexual dysfunction is common in women with lower urinary tract symptoms and urinary incontinence: Results of a cross-sectional study EUROPEAN UROLOGY 92 11.5
10 Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe: A 48-nation study of sex, culture and strategies of human mating BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 91 13
11 Evidence for sexuality in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus CURRENT BIOLOGY 90 12.86
12 Defining sexual outcomes after treatment for localized prostate carcinoma CANCER 90 9
13 Let it be sexual: how health care transmission of AIDS in Africa was ignored INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF STD & AIDS 86 9.56
14 Apomixis: A developmental perspective ANNUAL REVIEW OF PLANT BIOLOGY 85 9.44
15 Parental monitoring, negotiated unsupervised time, and parental trust: The role of perceived parenting practices in adolescent health risk behaviors JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH 82 9.11
16 Long-term follow up of subthalamic nucleus stimulation in Parkinson’s disease NEUROLOGY 81 8.1
17 Sexual interference of the floral kind HEREDITY 77 7.7
18 The social re-orientation of adolescence: a neuroscience perspective on the process and its relation to psychopathology PSYCHOLOGICAL MEDICINE 76 10.86
19 Sexual experience of female partners of men with erectile dysfunction: The female experience of men’s attitudes to life events and sexuality (FEMALES) study JOURNAL OF SEXUAL MEDICINE 75 10.71
20 Replacement of dehydroepiandrosterone in adrenal failure: No benefit for subjective health status and sexuality in a 9-month, randomized, parallel group clinical trial JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY & METABOLISM 75 8.33
21 Abstinence and abstinence-only education: A review of US policies and programs JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH 71 11.83
22 Long-term psychological impact of carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation and prophylactic surgery: A 5-year follow-up study JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY 71 7.89
23 One year follow-up of women opting for presymptomatic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2: Emotional impact of the test outcome and decisions on risk management (Surveillance or prophylactic surgery) BREAST CANCER RESEARCH AND TREATMENT 71 7.1
24 Sexual dysfunction in women with type 1 diabetes – A controlled study DIABETES CARE 71 7.1
25 Revised definitions of women’s sexual dysfunction JOURNAL OF SEXUAL MEDICINE 70 8.75
26 What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW 70 7.78
27 Development and validation of the Self-Esteem And Relationship (SEAR) questionnaire in erectile dysfunction INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF IMPOTENCE RESEARCH 69 8.62
28 Mutualistic asexual endophytes in a native grass are usually parasitic AMERICAN NATURALIST 69 7.67
29 Assessing information and decision preferences of men with prostate cancer and their partners CANCER NURSING 69 6.9
30 The impact of hormones on menopausal sexuality: a literature review MENOPAUSE-THE JOURNAL OF THE NORTH AMERICAN MENOPAUSE SOCIETY 68 8.5
31 DHEA treatment: myth or reality? TRENDS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY AND METABOLISM 68 6.8
32 Moral heuristics BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 67 9.57
33 Experimental studies an sexual reproduction in diatoms INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF CYTOLOGY – A SURVEY OF CELL BIOLOGY, VOL. 237. INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF CYTOLOGY-A SURVEY OF CELL BIOLOGY 67 9.57
34 The social constructions of sexuality: Marital infidelity and sexually transmitted disease – HIV risk in a Mexican migrant community AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH 67 6.7
35 Prostate cancer patients’ support and psychological care needs: Survey from a non-surgical oncology clinic PSYCHO-ONCOLOGY 65 8.12
36 Quality of life, psychosocial well being, and sexual satisfaction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY & METABOLISM 65 7.22
37 Citalopram and fluoxetine in the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms: a prospective, randomized, 9-month, placebo-controlled, double-blind study MENOPAUSE-THE JOURNAL OF THE NORTH AMERICAN MENOPAUSE SOCIETY 63 9
38 Proposed multidimensional structure of mania: beyond the euphoric-dysphoric dichotomy JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS 63 7
39 Sexual disabilities are not singularities INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF IMPOTENCE RESEARCH 63 7
40 Predictors of STI vaccine acceptability among parents and their adolescent children JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH 61 8.71
41 Chronic illness self-management: taking action to create order JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NURSING 61 7.62
42 Oral versus vaginal sex among adolescents: Perceptions, attitudes, and behavior PEDIATRICS 60 8.57
43 Body image and sexual problems in young women with breast cancer PSYCHO-ONCOLOGY 59 9.83
44 Sexual dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) EUROPEAN UROLOGY 59 8.43
45 Patients’ perceptions of quality of life after treatment for early prostate cancer JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY 59 6.56
46 Relationship between hypoactive sexual desire disorder and aging FERTILITY AND STERILITY 58 11.6
47 The evolutionary ecology of gynogenesis ANNUAL REVIEW OF ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATICS 56 9.33
48 Prevalence of erectile dysfunction in France: Results of an epidemiological survey of a representative sample of 1004 men EUROPEAN UROLOGY 56 5.6
49 The evolutionary significance of parasitism: do parasite-driven genetic dynamics occur ex silico? JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY 56 5.6
50 What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”: An ovarian cancer survivor survey” GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY 56 5.6
 

As with many other analyses I have performed, the subject area of sexuality is receiving a broader range of citations than the articles themselves cover.  Although the same six categories lead off the top 10 in both groups, those categories represent almost 40% of the source material, but just over 31% of the articles citing those on sexuality.  The lower half of the top 10 sees two totally different categories: while General & Internal Medicine and Psychology journals are publishing articles on sexuality, it’s Plant Sciences and Nursing which are garnering the citations.

The yellow categories differ in source vs citing materials

 

One final dataset to look at is the institutions publishing articles citing those on the topic of sexuality.  The list is fairly similar to that of publishing institutions, below showing the institutions as well as the number of articles (covered in WoS and published between 2002 and 2010) citing research on sexuality:

  1. HARVARD UNIV 229
  2. UNIV CALIF SAN FRANCISCO 205
  3. UNIV TORONTO 196
  4. UNIV CALIF LOS ANGELES 189
  5. COLUMBIA UNIV 183
  6. INDIANA UNIV 173
  7. UNIV N CAROLINA 173
  8. UNIV WASHINGTON 173
  9. UNIV BRITISH COLUMBIA 149
  10. UNIV MICHIGAN 145
  11. UNIV PENN 134
  12. UNIV MELBOURNE 128
  13. JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV 114
  14. DUKE UNIV 112
  15. UNIV PITTSBURGH 110
  16. YALE UNIV 105
  17. UNIV TEXAS 104
  18. UNIV ILLINOIS 101
  19. KAROLINSKA INST 100
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