This study reveals significant and emergent research topics in the field ‘engineering, mechanical’ through bibliometric analysis of articles indexed in Web of Science (WoS) from 1997 to 2016. Publications under consideration (219,191 articles) were examined using quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate general information about publications; evolution of research topics by keyword analysis; performance of countries, research centers and journals; and international collaborations. There was a threefold increase in number of articles throughout the period. The publications were related to 35 WoS categories; and mechanics and thermodynamics were dominating ones. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer was the leading journal in the field. The USA and China were outstanding countries of the field. Collaboration between these countries corresponded to 6.57% of all collaborative publications. Industrialized and developing countries dominated research activities in the field. Indian Institute of Technology was the leading research center due to number of publications. The results showed that heat transfer, finite element method, friction, wear, simulation, and fatigue are important topics of the field. There is an upward trend in research related to nanofluids, microchannel, phase change materials, and carbon nanotubes.
The establishment of the Research Network Lukasiewicz (RNL) is aimed at strengthening the research potential and knowledge transfer from research institutes to enterprises. The article presents the results of the research potential analysis of 38 research institutes that are to form the RNL, based on data on scientific publications in 2013–2016. The number of publications of RNL institutes was similar to the number of publications of TNO and VTT institutes but smaller than that of Fraunhofer institutes. The publications of RNL institutes had lower values of indicators of international collaboration and collaboration with business as well as lower values of citation indices. Co-authors of RNL publications were mainly affiliated with national scientific units, whereas co-authorship with Fraunhofer, TNO and VTT institutes was marginal. The article also outlines the limitations and challenges of the adopted research method and future research orientations in this area.