Number of papers published in English from the nursing departments of 42 national universities in Japan for the past ten years


  1. Junichi Kameoka
  2. Fumie Takahashi
  3. Fumiko Sato
  4. Kazuki Sato
  5. Yasuka Nakamura
  6. Seiichi Ishii


3II International


Office of Medical Education, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
Department of Health Sciences, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine


In Japan, the departments of nursing were established by 2004 in 42 national four-year universities, and graduate school programs for master’s degree have been established by 2008 in all these universities, and for doctor’s degree in 27 of them (Japanese Nursing Association, 2011). The requirement to publish studies in English has become stronger with changes in the school system, and the importance of English education has been emphasized (Yamanaka, 2000; Anazawa, 2012). However, the number of papers published in English, as an outcome evaluation of English education, has not yet been examined.

Summary of Work

This study was approved by the Tohoku University Research Ethics Board (2014-1-117).


Listing of teachers

The lists of teachers in the departments of nursing in the 42 national universities were obtained from the Japan Association of Nursing Programs in Universities: paper-based lists between 2004 and 2007, and online lists between 2008 and 2013.  Among all teachers (n=2608), only those who had nursing licenses (n=2292, 87.9%) were included for the analysis.


Counting of papers

The total number of papers published between 2004 and 2013 by teachers with nursing licenses was counted using the SCOPUS database. The papers in which only abstracts were written in English (n=133) were excluded. The number of first-authored papers, defined as those in which nursing teachers were the first authors, was separately counted.


Analysis of journals

A list of journals was made in the order of the numbers of published papers. A list of the top 20 nursing journals according to the impact factors in 2009 (Polit, 2011), with the number of papers in the current study, was made.

Summary of Results

The total numbers of papers published in English by the 42 universities per year between 2004 and 2013 were shown in Figure 1. The average numbers of all papers and first-authored papers were 211.4 and 69.9 (33.1%) per year, respectively. The numbers of all papers and first-authored papers increased approximately two-fold during the past ten years.

The number of papers according to universities was shown in Figure 2. The means and standard deviations of the number of all papers and first-authored papers were 50.3±63.8 (range: 1―382) and 18.3±23.4 (range: 0―147), respectively.

The number of papers according to teachers was shown in Figure 3. The means and standard deviations of the number of all papers and first-authored papers were 1.39±5.84 (range: 0―140) and 0.33±1.28 (range: 0―21), respectively. While 75 teachers (3.3%) published 10 or more English papers in ten years, 1634 teachers (71.3%) published no English papers in that time.

Table 1A and 1B show the top journals based on the number of papers in the current analysis. Twenty out of 20 (60.0%) (total) and 12 out of 16 (75.0%) (first-authored) were Japanese journals, defined as the ones whose editorial offices are located in Japan.

Table 2 shows the 20 highest impact factor nursing journals (Polit, 2011). The total numbers of papers in the current study in these 20 journals were 71 (3.4%) (total) and 43 (6.2%) (first-authored).


As compared with other countries (Table 3), the total number of English nursing papers in Japan appears high, but the average number of papers per teacher, particularly first-authored papers, is still very low (Figure 3).

Variations among the universities and teachers may be attributed to: 1) differences in research activities, 2) the influence of the research environment such as peer pressure, and 3) differences in the content of research with differences in the need to publish in English.


Many papers were published in Japanese journals, including the in-house journals of each university, perhaps because the primary aim of Japanese nursing teachers was still “to write articles in English.” However, once the primary aim is attained, the next step is “to publish articles to be read,” which requires submissions to more internationally subscribed journals with higher impact factors.


Limitations of this study include: 1) some nursing journals were not included within SCOPUS, 2) the categorization of the papers was not carried out, 3) studies were only included from national universities, although there are 193 nursing colleges/universities in Japan (Japanese Nursing Association, 2011), and 4) the number of papers not only involves proficiency in writing English, but also nursing research activity. 

Take-home Messages

The number of papers published in English by the nursing departments of 42 universities in Japan is steadily increasing. The results of the present study provide a baseline for the long-term evaluation of English education in the future.


We thank Dr. Junya Iwazaki (Office of Medical Education, Tohoku University) for analyzing the data, and Ms. Yoko Ushio (the Japan Association of Nursing Programs in Universities) for sending us the lists of teachers between 2004 and 2007. We also thank Dr. Hiroshi Kanatsuka (Office of Medical Education, Tohoku University), Dr. Miho Sato and Dr. Atsuko Taguchi (Department of Health Sciences, Tohoku University), and the Doctors of 13 national universities for their helpful suggestions, and Mr. Yutaro Arata, Ms. Emi Koguma, Mr. Shinya Otsuki, Ms. Sayaka Takahashi, Ms. Naoko Chiba, and Ms. Kyoko Okumura (Office of Medical Education, Tohoku University) for their technical assistance.


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Summary of Work
Summary of Results


Take-home Messages
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