Intellectual Structure and Evolutionary Trends of Precision Medicine Research: Coword Analysis

Xiaoguang Lyu, Jiming Hu, Weiguo Dong, Xin Xu: Intellectual Structure and Evolutionary Trends of Precision Medicine Research: Coword Analysis. In: JMIR Med Inform, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. e11287, 2020, ISSN: 2291-9694.


Background: Precision medicine (PM) is playing a more and more important role in clinical practice. In recent years, the scale of PM research has been growing rapidly. Many reviews have been published to facilitate a better understanding of the status of PM research. However, there is still a lack of research on the intellectual structure in terms of topics. Objective: This study aimed to identify the intellectual structure and evolutionary trends of PM research through the application of various social network analysis and visualization methods. Methods: The bibliographies of papers published between 2009 and 2018 were extracted from the Web of Science database. Based on the statistics of keywords in the papers, a coword network was generated and used to calculate network indicators of both the entire network and local networks. Communities were then detected to identify subdirections of PM research. Topological maps of networks, including networks between communities and within each community, were drawn to reveal the correlation structure. An evolutionary graph and a strategic graph were finally produced to reveal research venation and trends in discipline communities. Results: The results showed that PM research involves extensive themes and, overall, is not balanced. A minority of themes with a high frequency and network indicators, such as Biomarkers, Genomics, Cancer, Therapy, Genetics, Drug, Target Therapy, Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacogenetics, and Molecular, can be considered the core areas of PM research. However, there were five balanced theme directions with distinguished status and tendencies: Cancer, Biomarkers, Genomics, Drug, and Therapy. These were shown to be the main branches that were both focused and well developed. Therapy, though, was shown to be isolated and undeveloped. Conclusions: The hotspots, structures, evolutions, and development trends of PM research in the past ten years were revealed using social network analysis and visualization. In general, PM research is unbalanced, but its subdirections are balanced. The clear evolutionary and developmental trend indicates that PM research has matured in recent years. The implications of this study involving PM research will provide reasonable and effective support for researchers, funders, policymakers, and clinicians.

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