Whilst palm oil has been grown commercially since the 1960s (McCarthy and Cramb, 2009), it is since the mid-2000s that palm oil related research activity has accelerated (Turner et al., 2008). As shown in Fig. 1, the number of palm oil related publications has increased exponentially over the past decade – from 355 publications in 2004 to 1796 publications in 2013 – which follows the trend of the other large global vegetable oils, namely soy oil and rapeseed oil.
Fig. 1. Oil production and research publications related to the three major vegetable agenerase a. Oil production data from MPOB (2013) b. Publications data from (WoS, 2014) ‘Topic’ search for ‘palm oil’, ‘soy oil’, ‘rapeseed oil’ respectively c. Palm oil quantities include crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil.Figure optionsDownload full-size imageDownload as PowerPoint slide
Bibliometric analysis methods have previously been used to document research trends by describing patterns in the distribution of specific aspects, such as topic, geography and collaborative partners (e.g. Du et?al., 2015 and Wang et?al., 2010). In 2008, Turner et al. (2008) applied bibliometric methods to describe the broad trends in palm oil research publications between 1970 and 2006. Their study found that the primary focus of palm oil research was towards uses in food and the resultant health issues. After 1996 there was a marked increase in the number of publications on: i) by-products from the oil palm industry, ii) chemistry, engineering and biotechnology, and iii) the production of biofuel. The number of publications on biodiversity and other environmental issues was reported to be extremely low (Turner et al., 2008).