Genral reconstruction





Plastic and reconstructive surgical research in Australia and New Zealand: a bibliometric analysis

Olivia M Perotti MBBS MS,1,2,3 Storm Holwill MBBS BMedSc,1,2,3 Sadhishaan Sreedharan MBBS,1,2,3 Daniel J Reilly MBBS BMedSc,1,2,3 Warren M Rozen MBBS BMedSc MD PhD FRACS,1,2,3,4  David J Hunter-Smith MBBS MPH FRACS FACS1,2,3,4


Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand
Surgery, Peninsula Health
Frankston, Victoria


Peninsula Clinical School Central Clinical School
Monash University, The Alfred Centre
Melbourne, Victoria


Department of Surgery
School of Clinical Sciences
Monash Medical Centre
Clayton, Victoria


Section Editor
Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery
St Leonards, New South Wales

Name: Associate Professor David Hunter-Smith
Address: Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery Unit
Surgical and Anaesthetic Services
Peninsula Health, Frankston Hospital
2 Hastings Road
Frankston, Victoria, 3199
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3(0) 9784 8416

Article information
Citation: Perotti OM, Holwill S, Sreedharan S, Reilly DJ, Rozen WM, Hunter-Smith DJ. Plastic and reconstructive surgical research in Australia and New Zealand: a bibliometric analysis. Australas J Plast Surg. 2018;1(1): 130–134.
Manuscript received: 2 November 2017
Manuscript accepted: 18 December 2017
Published: 01 March 2018;
Updated: 10 June 2021—new format
You are viewing the most recent version of this article
Copyright © 2018. Authors retain their copyright in the article. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence 4.0 which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
General reconstruction


Background: Bibliometrics is the analysis of research produced by individuals and institutions. While previous analyses have assessed sub-specialty fields, as well as contributions of individual countries to the plastic surgical literature, no bibliometric analyses to date have measured the contribution of plastic surgeons from Australia and New Zealand.

Methods: Plastic surgery journals with the 15 highest impact factors were identified. Total publications in a ten-year period from October 2007 to September 2017 by Australian and New Zealand plastic surgeons were recorded, as were h-indices for all surgeons.

Results: 588 articles were published by 498 surgeons, with the largest numbers in plastic and reconstructive surgery (142), burns (133), and the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (112). Mean h-index for associate professors was 9.29, and for professors was 17.17.

Conclusion: Australian and New Zealand plastic surgeons continue to be actively involved in world-class research and innovation. The volume and quantity of research produced supports the development of an Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery.

Keywords: bibliometrics, Australia, New Zealand, plastic surgery, publications


Australia and New Zealand have long been at the forefront of advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery. From the fathers of modern plastic surgery,1 through to pioneers in reconstructive microsurgery,2 to groundbreaking advances in areas such as stem cells and tissue engineering,3the Antipodean contribution to the discipline cannot be overstated.

Bibliometrics is the analysis of research produced by individuals and institutions, incorporating the volume of publications as well as their impact and citations. Bibliometric analyses of publications in the field of plastic surgery have previously been used to identify significant research in sub-specialty areas,4-8 as well as the contributions of individual countries to the discipline.9,10 A recent study has assessed the research pro-duced by orthopaedic surgeons in Australia.11

To date, no studies have investigated the quantity or impact of research by plastic surgeons in Australia or New Zealand. The introduction of the Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery serves as an opportunity to celebrate the ongoing contribution of local surgeons to the plastic surgical literature.


A list of all consultant plastic surgeons in Australia and New Zealand was collated by cross-referencing databases of surgeons through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons (NZAPS). Surgeons whose primary practice is located outside Australia or New Zealand were excluded.

The top ranking plastic surgery journals were identified using impact factors for the most recent year available (2016) using the Web of Science database (Thomson Reuters, New York, USA).12 A literature search was performed using the database for articles published by each surgeon over a 10-year period from 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2017. Original research, systematic reviews, meta-analyses and case reports were included; letters, commentaries and editorials were excluded. Research accepted for publication but not yet published was also excluded.

Bibliographic details were recorded for each eligible article (journal, year, volume, issue and pages). In addition, the type of article was recorded, as well as the region of origin (Australian states and territories or New Zealand). In cases where multiple surgeons served as authors, the region of the first-listed author was recorded. Lifetime h-index was also recorded for each surgeon. Results were analysed using Sigmaplot 13 (Systat Software Inc, San Jose CA, USA).


The journals with the highest impact factors are listed in Table 1. Five hundred and twelve surgeons were identified; 14 listed their primary place of practice outside Australia or New Zealand, and were excluded. The remaining 498 surgeons were based in the Australian Capital Territory (5), New South Wales (127), the Northern Territory (2), Queensland (66), South Australia (41), Tasmania (10), Victoria (141), Western Australia (47) and New Zealand (59).

Table 1: Total publications by ANZ plastic surgeons in 15 top-ranking plastic surgery journals 2007-2017
Journal Impact factor Original research Review articles Case reports Total publications
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 3.843 108 14 20 142
JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery 2.703 0 0 0 0
Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2.697 9 4 2 15
Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery 2.216 15 6 6 27
Journal of Hand Surgery (European) 2.191 8 1 2 11
Microsurgery 2.156 24 5 7 36
Burns 2.056 113 15 5 133
Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery 2.048 81 11 20 112
Clinics in Plastic Surgery 1.658 1 3 0 4
Journal of Hand Surgery (American) 1.606 13 0 4 17
Annals of Plastic Surgery 1.596 19 10 1 30
Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America 1.568 0 0 0 0
Journal of Burns Care and Research 1.349 31 8 2 41
Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 1.32 18 1 1 20
Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery 1.242 0 0 0 0
Total 440 78 70 588

In total, 588 articles were published over the study period. The largest number of publications was in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS, 142), followed by Burns (133) and the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery (JPRAS, 112). The number and type of publications are sum-marised in Table 1.

The highest number of publications overall was from Victoria (282), followed by Western Australia (104) and New South Wales (101). On a per surgeon basis, however, Western Australia had the highest results (2.21), followed by Victoria (2.00) and South Australia (1.22). Region of origin for publications is summarised in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Fig 1. Number of publications from each region of Australia and New Zealand in top-ranking journals 200717.

Lifetime h-index for each surgeon was recorded, and is summarised in Figure 2. A sub-group analysis was performed according to academic positions (Figure 3). Seventeen associate professors had a mean h-index of 9.29 (median 7, range 0–24), and 12 professors had a mean h-index of 17.17 (median 13.5, range 0–45).

Figure 2
Fig 2. Distribution of h-index scores amongst Plastic Surgeons in Australia and New Zealand.
Figure 3
Fig 3. Distribution of h-index scores according to academic rank (Associate Professors and Professors)


Plastic surgeons from Australia and New Zealand have been actively involved in clinical and scientific advances since the specialty’s genesis. Previous bibliometric studies have shown that local researchers have been at the forefront of many of the major advances in our field, both in plastic surgical publica-tions generally, as well as in various sub-specialty areas.4–8

A previous study by Rymer et al13 of publications in the ten highest-ranking plastic surgery journals over a five-year period demonstrated that Australian researchers were ranked seventh in terms of overall publications. The overall quality of research was noted to be high (ranked third for mean impact factor), as was the per capita research production (second for publications per mil-lion of population). The quality of research has been confirmed in other studies.14

Australian surgeons have been at the forefront of developments in reconstructive microsurgery and this is reflected in citation analyses of microsurgical publications.14,15 Australian researchers produced the second-highest number of publications, as well as the highest-ranked author and institution.

More recently, we have observed a significant contribution of local surgeons to the international burns literature. This has been primarily through the dedicated tertiary burns units in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. Australian research is featured in a citation analysis of the most influential papers in burns,5 as well as similar studies in rhinoplasty, cleft lip and palate, and aesthetic surgery.6-8

The data collected and presented understates the extent of research that Australian and New Zealand surgeons participate in, as many publications appear in journals other than those that we have assessed. A significant volume of research has been published in other sub-specialty journals (particularly breast, head and neck, and craniofacial), as well as biomedical science journals.

The analysis of the h-index attempts to address this shortcoming; by this measure, there are several researchers across Australia and New Zealand who have produced a substantial body of high-quality research across their careers.

The h-index is a measure of an individual’s research production.16 It records both the volume and significance of publications, and has been previously shown to correlate to academic rank in plastic surgery.17,18 A study of academic plastic surgeons in the United States demonstrated a mean h-index of 9.10 for associate professors, and 15.30 for professors;18 results for local surgeons likewise correlate with these figures.

Multiple different measures of research production have been previously used, including total numbers of publications (with or without weighting according to impact factors), research grants, and publication/citation indices (h-index, as well as variants such as g-index and contemporary h-index). We have attempted to give a snapshot of plastic surgical research in Australia and New Zea-land and the metrics that we have applied are publications in plastic surgery-specific journals, and lifetime h-index. We feel that, in combination, these measures give a representative view of past and present research in our field.


Australian and New Zealand plastic surgeons continue to be actively involved in world-class research and innovation. The volume and quantity of research produced supports the development of an Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery.


Thank you to Vicky Tobin for her assistance with analysing data and creating graphs.


The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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