Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Bibliometrics of Cambodian Science: subjects, researchers
and impact in the Science Citation Index Expanded
Julián Monge-Nájera
; https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7764-2966
Siyan Yi
; https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3045-5386
Yuh-Shan Ho
*; https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5090-3732
1. Laboratorio de Ecología Urbana, Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Universidad Estatal a Distancia, 2050 San José, Costa
Rica; julianmonge@gmail.com
2. Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore; KHANA Center for
Population Health Research, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; siyan@doctor.com
3. Trend Research Centre, Asia University, No. 500 Lioufeng Road, Wufeng, Taichung 41354, Taiwan;
ysho@asia.edu.tw (Correspondence*)
4. Center for Global Health Research, Touro University, Vallejo, CA, USA.
Received 08-II-2021. Corrected 06-V-2021. Accepted 19-V-2021.
Abstract. Introduction: Cambodia is a small agricultural tropical country for which only two small scientomet-
ric studies, published five years ago, were available until now. Objective: To identify, for Cambodian research,
subjects, outlets, authors, institutions, citations and recommendations. Methods: The data were retrieved from
the Science Citation Index Expanded (January 04, 2021) using the word “Cambodia” for the period 1972 to
2019. Results: We retrieved 3 689 documents: for the half century covered, the yearly presence of Cambodia
in the index has grown strongly, to 325 articles and 6 555 authors in 2019 alone. Most documents are articles
in English about health, particularly infectious and tropical diseases. Most international collaboration is done,
by country, with the USA, France, and Thailand; and by institution, with Mahidol University, the Pasteur
Institute and Oxford University. The most productive institutions are the Cambodian Ministry of Health and
the Cambodian National Center for Parasitology. The main outlets are PLoS One, Malaria and PLoS Neglected
Tropical Diseases. Cambodian articles are cited for up to 33 years, with a peak of 4.5 citations within the first
two years. Those in English, or from well-funded foreign projects, have more citations in this particular index;
especially if they are about malaria, hepatitis or influenza. Conclusions: The nature and impact of Cambodian
science outside the SCI-EXPANDED remain unknown, but publications in that index have increased, concen-
trate on solving local problems, and depend heavily on international collaboration, following a well-known
pattern of science in tropical countries. We suggest a funding system based on international peers who assign
funds to the most productive researchers with minimal bureaucracy, so that local research is done on a greater
variety of topics and with less participation of Cambodian researchers as low-level members in foreign projects.
Key words: scientific productivity of tropical countries; top research areas in the tropics; tropical health and
diseases; scientific output; science and economic development.
Monge-Nájera, J., Yi, S., & Ho, Y.S. (2021). Bibliometrics of
Cambodian Science: subjects, researchers and impact in
the Science Citation Index Expanded. Revista de Biología
Tropical, 69(2), 678-687. https://doi.org/10.15517/rbt.
Additionally to the problems of corruption
and bureaucracy, science and technology in
tropical countries are affected by the mismatch
between extraordinary natural resources and
the scarcity of funds to study, conserve and
use them (Reboredo, Romano, & Armsworth,
2020). Similarities among tropical countries
include the absence, in the Web of Science,
of a large number of articles that are not in
English but that are locally important, and
the numerical dominance of articles produced
by international projects led by well-financed
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
institutions in the USA and Europe (Bah,
Fu, & Ho, 2019; Calahorrano, Monge-Nájera,
Wang, & Ho, 2020). The differences include
the number of local scientific journals whose
publications and citations are not recorded by
the SCI-EXPANDED (from 18 in Guatemala
to 130 in El Salvador, Monge-Nájera & Ho,
2017a; Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2018) and citation
lifespans that range from 15 years in Panama
to 70 years in Nicaragua (Monge-Nájera & Ho,
2015; Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2017b).
Here we continue the exploration of Asian
scientific presence in the SCI-EXPANDED
with Cambodia, an Asian tropical country with
a population of 15.6 million in a small territory
of approximately 181 000 km
. The economy is
based on agriculture and the country has a low
per capita yearly income of US $1 643 (World
Bank, 2020). Apparently, there are only two
previous studies about Cambodian science;
one, by Turpin, Zhang, Burgos, and Amaradsa
(2015) considered Cambodia as part of a gene-
ral survey of science in Southeast Asia and
Oceania, and found that Cambodian science
was growing rapidly but had a low level of
development that made it highly depending on
foreign researchers. Another study from the
same year, covering the period 2000 to 2012,
reported that 628 articles had been published,
mainly on health topics, and that most were
descriptive studies with a significant increase
over time; this period was important because,
in 2010, the Cambodian government esta-
blished several policies to strength science
(Goyet et al., 2015).
In this article, our goal is to present a larger
study, covering half a century of Cambodian
scientific output, and centering on subjects,
authors, institutions and outlets, as well as cita-
tion, but limited to the Web of Science, because
there is no equivalent to analyze Cambodian
publications published in the official language
of the country or in journals not covered by the
Web of Science.
The data was acquired from the Science
Citation Index Expanded, Clarivate Analytics,
Web of Science Core Collection (updated
January 04, 2021). We carried out an advan-
ced search using the word “Cambodia” in
the field country (CU), limited to the period
1972 to 2019, and retrieved 3 689 publica-
tions. We retrieved document type (article,
letter, book chapter, etc.), subject, language,
institutions and authors. Data were analyzed
with Excel. The journal impact factors (IF
were extracted from the 2019 Journal Citation
Reports (JCR).
In this database, the corresponding author
is nominated as the ‘reprint author’. As a result,
we will use the term ‘corresponding author
in this study. In a single-author article where
authorship is undefined, the author is categori-
zed as both the first and corresponding author.
Similarly, in a single-institution article, the
institution is also listed as the first-author and
the corresponding-author institution. In multi-
ple corresponding-author articles, only the last
corresponding-author, institution, and country
are considered. In single-author articles only
the Cambodia institution or the first Cambodia
institution are considered to be corresponding
institution (corresponding author is most likely
to appear first or last in the byline, Mattsson,
Sundberg & Laget, 2011).
Institutions in Cambodia were checked
and merged, for example Inst Pasteur Cam-
bodge, Inst Pasteur Cambodia, Inst Pasteur,
Pasteur Inst Cambodia, Reseau Int Inst Pasteur,
and Inst Pasteur Int Network were reclassified
as Inst Pasteur Cambodge (Pasteur Institute in
Cambodia). Affiliations in England, Scotland,
Northern Ireland, and Wales were reclassified
as in the United Kingdom (UK). Affiliations in
Hong Kong prior to 1997 were included under
the heading of China. Affiliations in French
Guiana were reclassified as in France. Affi-
liations in Greenland were reclassified as in
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Denmark. Affiliations in Czechoslovakia were
checked and reclassified as in Czech Republic.
Similarly, Czechoslovak Acad Sci (Czechos-
lovak Academy of Sciences) was reclassified
as Czech Acad Sci (Czech Academy of Scien-
ces). Of all document types, only articles were
analyzed in detail, because they represented the
majority of document types, as well as whole
research ideas and results.
We applied three citation indicators to
each article: the number of citations from the
Web of Science Core Collection in the most
recent year, C
or the number of citations in
2019; the total citations (TC) from the Web of
Science Core Collection from publication year
to the end of 2019 were recorded as TC
and we also calculated citations per publication
= TC
/TP where TP is Total of
Publications). We also measured Article lifes-
pan as the number of years for which articles
continue to be cited after publication.
Historical output, coauthorship and
length: The Web of Science expanded index
included 3 689 publications from Cambodia for
the period 1972-2019, with a clear tendency
to grow. Less than 23 articles were included
before 2003, and a sharp increase took place in
2003, to reach 325 articles in 2019 alone.
It also increased from less than 70 total
authors per year before 2002, to 6 555 authors
having their work indexed in 2019 alone; the
number of coauthors per article also increa-
sed significantly, from 2 or 3 in the 1970s, to
20 coauthors per article in 2019. The length
of articles varied greatly but has had a mean
of ten pages per document in recent years
(Digital appendix 1). The mean number of
authors per publication was 14 in articles, 9
in meeting abstracts and 12 authors in reviews
(Digital appendix 2).
Article types: There were 13 document
types, most of them articles (77 %), followed
by meeting abstracts, reviews and letters (Digi-
tal appendix 2). Note: The Web of Science can
classify a document in more than one type, for
example, 59 proceedings articles were also
classified as articles, and seven reviews were
also classified as book chapters, and thus the
sum of percentages can be higher than 100 %.
Language: Language of publication is one
of the basic factors in bibliometric studies of
big data. Cambodian research that reached the
index was published in four languages, but 99
% were in English (2 830 articles), followed
distantly by French (0.67 %), German (0.18
%), and Spanish (0.035 %); articles in English
had far more coauthors than those in other lan-
guages (Digital appendix 3).
Subjects: On the one hand, most Cam-
bodian articles deal with infectious diseases;
tropical medicine; and health, while agronomy
and zoology occupy the last places by frequen-
cy; on the other hand, publications tend to
concentrate on relatively few journals (Fig. 1,
further details in Digital appendix 4), the top
exceptions being pharmacology, environmental
sciences and health which appear in a larger
number of journals (Fig. 1, Digital appendix 5).
All the top subject categories are increa-
sing in output over the years, particularly the
study of infectious diseases (Fig. 2).
International collaboration: The majo-
rity of collaboration was done with the USA
(29 %), France (22 %), and Thailand (21 %)
(Digital appendix 6).
Most international collaboration articles
with published with Mahidol University in
Thailand (25 %); the Pasteur Institute in Fran-
ce (17 %), and the University of Oxford in the
United Kingdom (17 %) (Digital appendix 7).
International collaboration is increasing rapidly,
led by collaboration with the USA (Fig. 3).
Institutions: The most productive ins-
titutions are the Pasteur Institute (20 %); the
Cambodian Ministry of Health (10 %); and the
Cambodian National Center for Parasitology,
Entomology and Malaria Control (8 %) (Digi-
tal appendix 8).
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Article lifespan and citation trends:
Cambodian articles can cite for three decades
after their publication, and citation increased
more rapidly in the first two years after publi-
cation, with a mean of one citation within the
publication year, and a peak 4.5 in the two full
years (Fig. 4).
Articles published in 2009 had the highest
accumulated citations, CPP
, with 50 cita-
tions. The maximal cumulative citations per
publication (CPP
) was in reviews, with 54
citations per review, which was 2.6 times the
citation rate for articles (Digital appendix 2).
Articles not in English had fewer citations,
with CPP
of 2.9, versus a CPP
of 21
for English (Digital appendix 3). Overall, the
citation trend for Cambodian articles is posi-
tive and shows an increase over time (Digital
appendix 9), with the normal delay in citations
for recent articles which have not had the time
to accumulate more citations (Fig. 5). There
is no visible effect of the 2010 government
policies designed to boost scientific output (see
Introduction, and Fig. 5).
Effect of country, institution and jour-
nal on citation: Articles with researchers from
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Vietnam
had the most citations (Digital appendix 6),
particularly when done in collaboration with
the World Health Organization, Mahidol Uni-
versity, and the University of Oxford (Digital
appendix 7). Locally, the institutions with
most citations were the National Center for
Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control;
the Pasteur Institute, and the WHO Cambodia
Fig. 1. Distribution of Cambodian scientific production in the top 20 productive Web of Science categories in the Science
Citation Index Expanded. Left vertical articles: percent articles on each category; right vertical axis: number of journals
where articles on that category were published.
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Fig. 2. Development of the top categories over time.
Fig. 3. Collaboration trends of the top four countries.
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Fig. 4. Citation life span for Cambodia articles.
Fig. 5. Number of articles and citations per publication by year. The Cambodia National Science and
Technology Master Plan was implemented in 2014 but there is no change in the growth curve as a result.
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
Representative Office (Digital appendix 8).
When the research team leaders are not from
Cambodia, the number of citations of the arti-
cles is higher (Fig. 6). For the top journals,
citations increased over time (Digital appendix
10). The same applies to the most cited articles
(Digital appendix 11).
The increasing number of Cambodian
publications in the Science Citation Index
Expanded is not different from the pattern found
for every other tropical country previously
studied (Crespo-Gascón, Tortosa, & Guerrero-
Casado, 2019), and it possibly reflects both a
real increase in scientific output (Turpin et al.,
2015) and the particularly poor or even absent
coverage of literature by SCI-EXPANDED
database for some regions and years, a problem
that was detected over a decade ago (Falagas,
Pitsouni, Malietzis, & Pappas, 2008; Larsen,
& Ins, 2010) and continues to be unsolved by
the Web of Science (Mongeon & Paul-Hus,
2016). In the last two decades, the number of
articles from that reach the Web of Science has
steadily grown for all tropical studied (Trang,
Monge-Nájera, & Ho, 2020), and we found
the same trend in Cambodia, but expected an
additional increase as a result of the Cambo-
dian National Science and Technology Master
Plan 2014-2020. However, our results do not
show any change in the general trend; this can
mean that the plan takes longer than five years
to have any visible effect; that it affected only
publications in the Khmer language, which are
important but not counted by the Web of Scien-
ce; or that the plan had no effect on the number
of publications reaching the Web of Science.
The scientific output and citations of
Cambodian science in the official language,
Khmer, is locally important but missing in the
Fig. 6. Characteristics of publication type and their citations per publication. TP: total articles, NFR: both first and
corresponding-authors are not from Cambodia, NR: corresponding-author is not from Cambodia, NF: first-author is not
from Cambodia, IC: internationally collaborative articles, NC: nationally collaborative articles, II: institutional independent
articles, CI: Cambodia independent articles, FP: first-author is from Cambodia, RP: corresponding-author is from
Cambodia, FR: both first and corresponding-authors are from Cambodia.
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075, Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
SCI-EXPANDED (Biddulph, 2010; Goyet et
al., 2015; Turpin et al., 2015); this explains
why publications in the database are almost
all in English. The predominance of articles is
also normal and has been found in many other
tropical countries (Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2012;
Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2018; Bah et al., 2019;
Trang et al., 2020) and reflects the fact that
articles are the unit of scientific literature (Ho,
Satoh, & Lin, 2010).
The predominance of research on health,
particularly infectious and tropical diseases
under state health and parasitology bureaus and
done with cooperation with the Pasteur Institu-
te, is typical of the less industrialized countries
all over the tropics, and results from a strong
local need to improve their low health indices,
still affected by tropical parasites and other
diseases that are not important in the indus-
trialized world (Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2017c;
Tchuifon, Fu, & Ho, 2017; Monge-Nájera &
Ho, 2018; Trang et al., 2020).
The presence of the USA, France, and
Thailand as the countries which collaborate the
most with Cambodian science, also follows a
known tropical pattern called by Monge-Nájera
and Ho (2017c) as the Affinity Model; that is,
that tropical countries tend to participate in
joint research with countries that are geogra-
phically and culturally close, including those
that were their colonial powers in the past.
This pattern has also been identified outside the
tropics regarding the distance that knowledge
flows between territories (Abramo, D’Angelo,
& Di Costa, 2020). The USA, as world leader
in science and technology, is also among the
top three collaborative countries all over the
tropics (Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2015; Tchuifon
et al., 2017; Trang et al., 2020).
The 30 year citation lifespan for Cambo-
dian articles places it closer to tropical coun-
tries that have a fluid scientific development,
like Panama, with its 20 year lifespan (Monge-
Nájera & Ho, 2015), than to less developed
countries like Nicaragua, where a slow scien-
tific advance is marked by a 70 year period in
which the same articles continue to be cited
(Monge-Nájera & Ho, 2017a).
Like everywhere in the tropics, the highest
citation of Cambodian articles on health and
led by foreign researchers is also explained by
the fact that international health megaprojects
are more likely to be done in areas of general
interest where much research is done, publis-
hed and cited (Tahamtan, Afshar, & Ahamd-
zadeh, 2016); it is a matter of numbers rather
than of quality and shows a large imbalance in
detriment of small countries (Bah et al., 2019;
Chinchilla-Rodríguez, Sugimoto, & Larivière,
2019). Along this line, the finding that projects
led by Cambodians receive less citations in
the Web of Science is not surprising, because
Cambodian-led research is based on smaller
projects and can be published in languages
other than English and in journals not covered
by the Web of Science (Goyet et al., 2015; Tur-
pin et al., 2015).
In conclusion, the nature and impact of
Cambodian science outside the SCI-EXPAN-
DED remain unknown, but publications recor-
ded by the SCI-EXPANDED have increased
in recent years, concentrate on solving local
problems, and depend heavily on international
collaboration, following a well-known pattern
of science in tropical countries. According to
Allik, Lauk and Realo (2020), the best way to
produce good science is to establish a strong
and lasting democracy in a small and well
governed country. Our recommendation would
be that the Cambodian government establis-
hes a funding system based on international
peers who assign funds to the most productive
researchers with minimal bureaucracy, so that
local research is done on a greater variety of
topics and with less participation of Cam-
bodian researchers as low-level members in
foreign projects.
Ethical statement: authors declare that
they all agree with this publication and made
significant contributions; that there is no con-
flict of interest of any kind; and that we followed
all pertinent ethical and legal procedures and
requirements. All financial sources are fully
and clearly stated in the acknowledgements
Revista de Biología Tropical, ISSN: 2215-2075 Vol. 69(2): 678-687, April-June 2021 (Published Jun. 09, 2021)
section. A signed document has been filed in
the journal archives.
We thank three anonymous reviewers for
very useful suggestions to improve an earlier
draft and Carolina Seas for her assistance with
manuscript preparation.
Bibliometría de la ciencia camboyana:
temas, investigadores e impacto en el
Science Citation Index Expanded
Introducción: Camboya es un país tropical asiático
pequeño y “subdesarrollado”, con una economía basada
en la agricultura, para el que hasta ahora solo estaban
disponibles dos pequeños estudios cienciométricos, publi-
cados hace cinco años. Objetivo: Identificar, para la
investigación camboyana, qué se estudia; quién hizo la
investigación; dónde y cuándo se publicó; y los factores
que afectan su citación. Métodos: Usamos el Science
Citation Index Expanded (4 de enero de 2021) utilizando
la palabra “Camboya” y se limitaron al período 1972 a
2019. Resultados: Hallamos 3 689 documentos; durante
el medio siglo cubierto, la presencia anual de Camboya
en el índice ha aumentado considerablemente, con 325
artículos y 6 555 autores incorporados tan solo en 2019.
La mayoría son artículos en inglés sobre salud, particu-
larmente enfermedades infecciosas y tropicales. La mayor
parte de la colaboración internacional se realiza, por país,
con EE. UU., Francia y Tailandia; y por institución, con
la Universidad Mahidol, el Instituto Pasteur y la Univer-
sidad de Oxford. Las instituciones más productivas son
el Ministerio de Salud de Camboya y el Centro Nacional
de Parasitología de Camboya. Las principales revistas son
PLoS One, Malaria y PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Los artículos camboyanos se citan hasta por 33 años, con
un máximo de 4.5 citas en los dos primeros años. Los que
son en inglés, o de proyectos dirigidos por el extranjero,
tienen más citas en esta base de datos; particularmente
si se trata de malaria, hepatitis o influenza. Conclusio-
nes: La naturaleza y el impacto de la ciencia camboyana
fuera del SCI-EXPANDED siguen sin conocerse, pero las
publicaciones en ese índice han aumentado, se concentran
en resolver problemas locales y dependen en gran medida
de la colaboración internacional, siguiendo un patrón bien
conocido en los países tropicales. Sugerimos un sistema
de financiación basado en pares internacionales que asig-
nen, con burocracia mínima, fondos a los investigadores
más productivos, de modo que la investigación local se
realice en una mayor variedad de temas y con una menor
participación de investigadores camboyanos como miem-
bros de bajo nivel en proyectos extranjeros.
Palabras clave: productividad científica de los países tro-
picales; principales áreas de investigación en los trópicos;
salud y enfermedades tropicales; producción científica;
ciencia y desarrollo económico.
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