Research Article: Bibliometric Assessment of European and Sub-Saharan African Research Output on Poverty-Related and Neglected Infectious Diseases from 2003 to 2011

Date Published: August 11, 2015

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): J. Gabrielle Breugelmans, Michael M. Makanga, Ana Lúcia V. Cardoso, Sophie B. Mathewson, Bethan R. Sheridan-Jones, Karen A. Gurney, Charles S. Mgone, David Joseph Diemert.

Abstract: BackgroundThe European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) is a partnership of European and sub-Saharan African countries that aims to accelerate the development of medical interventions against poverty-related diseases (PRDs). A bibliometric analysis was conducted to 1) measure research output from European and African researchers on PRDs, 2) describe collaboration patterns, and 3) assess the citation impact of clinical research funded by EDCTP.Methodology/Principal FindingsDisease-specific research publications were identified in Thomson Reuters Web of Science using search terms in titles, abstracts and keywords. Publication data, including citation counts, were extracted for 2003–2011. Analyses including output, share of global papers, normalised citation impact (NCI), and geographical distribution are presented. Data are presented as five-year moving averages. European EDCTP member countries accounted for ~33% of global research output in PRDs and sub-Saharan African countries for ~10% (2007–2011). Both regions contributed more to the global research output in malaria (43.4% and 22.2%, respectively). The overall number of PRD papers from sub-Saharan Africa increased markedly (>47%) since 2003, particularly for HIV/AIDS (102%) and tuberculosis (TB) (81%), and principally involving Southern and East Africa. For 2007–2011, European and sub-Saharan African research collaboration on PRDs was highly cited compared with the world average (NCI in brackets): HIV/AIDS 1.62 (NCI: 1.16), TB 2.11 (NCI: 1.06), malaria 1.81 (NCI: 1.22), and neglected infectious diseases 1.34 (NCI: 0.97). The NCI of EDCTP-funded papers for 2003–2011 was exceptionally high for HIV/AIDS (3.24), TB (4.08) and HIV/TB co-infection (5.10) compared with global research benchmarks (1.14, 1.05 and 1.35, respectively).ConclusionsThe volume and citation impact of papers from sub-Saharan Africa has increased since 2003, as has collaborative research between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. >90% of publications from EDCTP-funded research were published in high-impact journals and are highly cited. These findings corroborate the benefit of collaborative research on PRDs.

Partial Text: The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), created in 2003, is a partnership of 14 participating European Union (EU) Member States plus Norway and Switzerland, with sub-Saharan African countries. EDCTP aims to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics against poverty-related diseases (PRDs) including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and neglected infectious diseases (NIDs) [1].

We identified 290,539 publications produced between 2003 and 2012 in the field of PRDs of which 202,494 papers (69.7%) were used in the citation analyses (2003–2011) (S1 Diagram). We analysed 94,827 (46.8%) papers on HIV/AIDS, 33,621 (16.6%) on TB, 29,714 (14.7%) on malaria and 44,332 (21.9%) on NIDs. Although papers can cover more than one disease, there was little overlap between the disease areas in our dataset. Only 71 papers in our PRD dataset related to two or more other diseases. The main overlap was between HIV/AIDS and TB – 14.8% of TB research papers were also in the HIV/AIDS dataset and 5.3% HIV/AIDS research papers were also related to TB research, and 12.2% of malaria research papers were also in the NIDs dataset, while 8.2% of the research in NIDs also related to research in malaria.

Our results show that since 2003 the total research output in PRDs and their associated normalised citation impact and world share from sub-Saharan Africa has risen substantively, particularly in HIV/AIDS and TB, and principally involving Southern and East Africa. The research output in PRDs from sub-Saharan Africa mainly includes clinical and epidemiological research. Furthermore, although European research output generally has increased, its share of the global output for PRDs has dropped. However, the overall output from European research collaboration with sub-Saharan Africa for PRDs has increased over the period studied and the normalised citation impact of this collaborative research is generally higher than that for either European or sub-Saharan African research not involving North-South collaboration. The research output from EDCTP-funded research projects has a higher normalised citation impact for both HIV/AIDS and TB and more than 90% of the papers from EDCTP-funded projects are published in high impact journals (i.e. in the first and second quartile of journals by journal impact factor in their Web of Science journal category).



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