Data and Method

This study is based on the metadata analysis of the articles from the authoritative scientific and technical literature indexing databases such as SCI-E, SSCI and CPCI. The impact factor of SCI & SSCI journals with the latest data available in 2012 was determined by Journal Citation Reports (JCR) of Thomson Reuters, which was operated by Thomson Scientific, Philadelphia, PA now (Proudfoot, McAuley et al. 2011). The statistical analysis tool is Thomson Data Analyser (TDA) and the drawing tool is Aureka and MS Office Excel 2010.

Date Source

The data source was come from WoS database offered by Thomson Reuters, and the publishing time span was last updated in Dec 28th, 2013. Data in this study was acquired on December 30th, 2013 using the topic= “complex* network*” selecting “all the years” within the metadata including publication's title, keywords and abstract. In total, 10,832 articles were retrieved from the database of Web of Science (WoS). Precision retrieval strategy used in this paper make the ability of the search term to minimize the number of irrelevant records retrieved. As an abstract database, WoS offered only the metadata, certainly if given the chance to extract information from the full text of all paper the results may be more accurate.


In this scientometrics study, the annual publications, subjects' category, core journals, productive countries, fruitful institutes, main authors and keywords of the papers was deeply studied using the quantitative analysis methods. In this study comparative analysis was also used to analyse the data by putting the SCI and SSCI data into the same figure so that a direct and vivid result can be gotten from the figures and as much as possible information obtained.

Fig. 1 Papers record indexed in WoS from 1990 to 2012

Results Analysis

In this section, figures and tables are employed to describe the production and the development trends of complex networks research in both science and social science fields. Publications (as indicator for scientific performance) are commonly accepted indicators for quantitative analysis on innovation research performance (Garfield 1970). Papers from SCI as well as SSCI were studied together in this paper with scientometric analysis to explore the knowledge discovery.

Production Trend

As seen in Fig. 1 the complex networks publications increased dramatically in the last two decades. From 1990 to 2001, the complex networks' research were just begun and its publications were relatively low and there were not more than 200 papers in the WoS database. After 2001, the research outputs increased rapidly from less than 200 in 2001 to more than 2000 in 2009 and then stabilized changed in recent. The complex networks research came into its fast growth stage in twenty-first century and may enter the mature period of its publish life cycle in the next decade.

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