Science studies have been a field of research for different knowledge areas, and they have been successfully used to analyse the construction of scientific knowledge, practice and dissemination. In this study, we aimed to verify how the Zika epidemic has moulded the scientific articles published worldwide by analysing international collaborations and the knowledge landscape through time, as well as research topics and country involvement.
We searched the Web of Science (WoS), Scopus and PubMed for studies published up to 31st December 2018 on Zika using the search terms “zika”, “zkv” or “zikv”. We analysed the scientific production regarding which countries have published the most, on which topics, as well as country level collaboration. We performed a scientometric analysis of research on Zika focusing on knowledge mapping and the scientific research path over time and space.
We found two well defined research areas divided into three subtopics accounting for six clusters. With regard to country analysis, the USA and Brazil were the countries with the highest numbers of publications on Zika. China entered as a new player focusing on specific research areas. When we took into consideration the epidemics and reported cases, Brazil and France were the leading research countries on related topics. As for international collaboration, the USA followed by England and France stand out as the main hubs. The research areas most published included public health-related topics from 2015 until the very beginning of 2016, followed by an increase in topics related to the clinical aspects of the disease in 2016 and the emergence of laboratory research in 2017/2018.
Mapping the response to Zika, a public health emergency, demonstrated a clear pattern of the participation of countries in the scientific advances. The pattern of knowledge production found in this study represented varying country perspectives, research capacity and interests based first on their level of exposure to the epidemic and second on their financial positions regarding science.