A Bibliometric Analysis of Microbiology Publications in Sub - Saharan Africa during Years 2000 to 2014

AUTHORS

Yashik Singh 1 , *

1 Department of Telehealth, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa

How to Cite: Singh Y. A Bibliometric Analysis of Microbiology Publications in Sub - Saharan Africa during Years 2000 to 2014, Jundishapur J Microbiol. 2018 ; 11(3):e57088. doi: 10.5812/jjm.57088.

ARTICLE INFORMATION

Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology: 11 (3); e57088
Published Online: February 23, 2018
Article Type: Review Article
Received: November 3, 2015
Revised: June 26, 2017
Accepted: January 4, 2018
Crossmark

Crossmark

CHEKING

READ FULL TEXT
Abstract

Context: Research, development, and innovation are becoming increasingly important in the rapidly changing political, financial, and social landscape of the world. It is important to understand the landscape of research and development in developing courtiers, as research and development has been shown to improve developing countries’ economic growth. The aim of this study was to obtain a snap shot of a bibliometric analysis of the publications in the field of microbiology in sub - Saharan Africa (SSA). Among other questions, this study aimed at determining the most published authors, the most common areas of research, and institutes with the greatest number of publications in this field.

Evidence Acquisition: This study was conceptualised using 3 steps: creating a search strategy that encompasses the major fields of microbiology, creating and executing a search query, and analysing the results. Scopus was chosen as the search engine since it is the largest database of peer - reviewed literature and includes original articles, reviews, conferences, letters, editorials, and articles - in - press, etc.

Conclusions: Although at first glance it may seem that SSA contributed very little towards (less than 2%) the worlds microbiology literature, a closer examination of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research proves that SSA countries are making inroads in publishing literature. Most literature published over the last 14 years has been journal articles in journals with an impact factor of 3.7. In 2014, most articles were published in journals with an average impact factor of 6.1. In terms of the number of publications by the top authors in the field, it seems as if they quantitatively match other international countries like Brazil and India.

Keywords

Bibliometric Analysis Sub - Saharan Africa Microbiology

Copyright © 2018, Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited

1. Context

Research, development, and innovation are becoming increasingly important in rapidly changing political, financial, health, and social landscapes of the world (1). The World Bank reported that the United States of America spent 2.97% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development in 2012 (2). The same report indicated that the UK spent 1.72%, Israel spent 3.93%, and Germany spent 2.92% of their GDP on research. Developing countries have also increased their spending of GDP towards research and development over the past few years. The proportion of researchers in developing has increased by 8% (3). South Africa spent 0.76%, Congo and Gambia spent 0.13%, and Mali spent 0.66% of their GDP on research and development (2).

It is important to understand the landscape of research and development in developing courtiers, as research and development has been shown to improve developing countries’ economic growth (4). The field of microbiology plays an important role in research and development, and a snapshot of the current status of research in microbiology is valuable. This is of particular value in Sub - Saharan Africa, where resources are scarce. Such information will allow an understanding of what has been achieved, and determine whether the research and development goals of various state agencies and universities have been achieved (5).

However, a bibliometric analysis of microbiology both in developed and developing countries is rare, although such studies in other disciplines are readily available (6-9). Vergidis et al.’s (2005) study evaluated the global trend in research publication for microbiology during 1995 to 2003. A search for the single term “microbiology” in the journal citation reports database retrieved 89 527 articles published in 74 journals. Western Europe produced the highest research production followed by the Unites states of America. Africa performed the worst in terms of research productivity and this was accredited to low GDP spend on research. Africa published in journals with a mean impact factor of 2.3 while the USA scored a mean impact factor of 3.4. This research studied Africa as a whole and did not give an in depth analysis of African countries. The study also used one keyword to search the database. However, microbiology has many major sub - disciplines that may have been used as keywords or in the text of the articles, instead of the term “microbiology”.

A study conducted in 2006 reported a bibliometric study over 1980 to 2000, trying to assess the knowledge base of microbiology, molecular biology, and genetics research in South Africa (10). The study indicated that the number of microbiology articles increased by 60% between 1996 and 2000 in South Africa. The South African contribution to the worlds articles on microbiology was 0.6% in 2000. South Africa on average published in journals with an impact factor of 0.72. The study had a major shortcoming of searching in a database that was dominated by United States of America journals, which may not be where South African researchers would have published their findings.

The bibliometric studies in the field of microbiology did not include a report on authors, subject areas, and institutions that published the research etc. There has also been no recent study investigating the research production in the field of microbiology. Most studies also dealt with developed countries, and very few with African countries.

Thus the aim of this study was to obtain the latest snap shot of a bibliometric analysis of publications in the field of microbiology in sub - Saharan Africa. Among other questions, this study aimed at determining the most published authors, the most common areas of research, and institutes that published most in the field of microbiology.

2. Evidence Acquisition

This study was conceptualised using 3 steps: creating a search strategy that encompasses the major fields of microbiology, creating and executing a search query, and analysing the results. In order to overcome any bias and limitations of only searching literature for a single term “microbiology”, a search strategy comprising of many terms describing microbiology was created. To this end, the published scopes of 3 international peer reviewed journals were analysed. The keywords of the African journal of microbiology research, the Journal of applied microbiology, and the Journal of microbiology were amalgamated. General terms used in conjunction with microbiology were also added.

Analysing the scope of the 3 journals resulted in a search strategy that consisted of 44 terms. The query of the search strategy was: “animal microbiology” or “ biotechnology” or “ evolutionary microbiology” or “ food microbiology” or “ microbial ecology” or “ microbial genetics” or “microbial physiology” or “plant microbiology” or “ public health microbiology” or “ water microbiology” or “ beverage microbiology” or ” biodegradation” or “animal health microbiology” or “antimicrobials” or “bacteriology” or “biochemistry” or “biodefense” or “bioinformatics” or “bioremediation” or “biotransformation” or “cellular biology” or “clinical microbiology” or “environmental or “microbiology” or “food microbiology” or “genomics” or “host-microbe interaction” or “immunology” or “industrial microbiology” or “intestinal microbiology” or “microbial ecology” or “microbial pathogenesis” or “microbial systematics” or “molecular biology” or “molecular or microbiology” or “mycology” or “parasitology” or “phycology” or “plant health microbiology” or “prebiotics” or “probiotics” or “synthetic microbiology” or “systems microbiology” or “virology” or “microbiology”.

Scopus was chosen as the search engine, since it is the largest database of peer - reviewed literature and includes original articles, reviews, conferences, letters, editorials, articles - in - press, etc. (11, 12). In 2013, Scopus had 50 million records, 21 000 titles and 5 000 publishers. Scopus indexes more than 20 000 journals and includes the entire PubMed. It contains more than 4 300 life science journal titles that cover microbiology, molecular biology, virology, biochemistry etc. All types of publications were searched for each sub - Saharan African country, using the search query. The keywords were searched for in publication title, abstract, and keywords. The results were limited to all publications from 2000 to October 2014.

3. Results

In order to determine the quantitative contribution of each SSA (Sub - Saharan Africa) country, the Scopus database was searched to determine the number of publications that particular countries contributed towards. This is reported in Table 1. In order to understand, who was publishing in the field in SSA, the top 40 authors, institutions, and journals were determined. This is shown in Tables 2 to 4. To understand the areas of publications, Table 5 reports the number of publications per area identified by Scopus.

Table 1. The Number of Publications per Country from 2000 to Date
CountryNumber of PublicationsCountryNumber of PublicationsCountryNumber of Publications
Angola36Gabon233Nigeria2766
Benin225The Gambia264Reunion36
Botswana185Ghana517Rwanda76
Burkina Faso442New Guinea33Sao Tome and Principe0
Burundi0Guinea-Bissau0Senegal487
Cameroon813Kenya1641Seychelles0
Cape Verde0Lesotho0Sierra Leone0
Central African Republic65Liberia0Somalia0
Chad0Madagascar241South Africa6302
Comoros0Malawi243Sudan352
Congo176Mali213Swaziland0
Congo (DRC)30Mauritania0Tanzania792
Cote d'Ivoire296Mauritius90Togo79
Djibouti0Mozambique140Uganda757
Equatorial Guinea0Namibia62Western Sahara0
Eritrea0Niger90Zambia264
Ethiopia714Zimbabwe333
Table 2. The Top Authors and the Number of Publications Published from 2000 to Date
Author’s NameNumber of PublicationsAuthor NameNumber of PublicationsAuthor NameNumber of PublicationsAuthor NameNumber of Publications
Kuete, V.99Aseffa, A.61Rybicki, E. P.45Ndung'u, T.38
Ndip, R. N.93Viljoen, A. M.61Skjerve, E.42Conway, D. J.37
Cowan, D. A.84Afolayan, A. J.59Warren, R. M.42Molyneux, M. E.37
Wingfield, M. J.79Klugman, K. P.59Lall, N.41Garin, B.36
Dicks, L. M. T.77Van Helden, P. D.58Simpore, J.41Portaels, F.36
Marsh, K.74Varsani, A.52Goulder, P. J. R.40Whittle, H.36
Eloff, J. N.70Doumbo, O. K.51Peeters, M.40Olaniran, A. O.36
Van Staden, J.70Traore, A. S.51Adegbola, R. A.39Stevens, W.36
Okoh, A. I.68Horak, I. G.49Jongejan, F.39Todorov, S. D.36
Martin, D. P.64Van Vuuren, S. F.49Morris, L.39Feldman, C.36
Kremsner, P. G.63Walker, B. D.48Shaw, G. M.39
Table 3. A List of the Top 40 Institutes That Have Published Studies in Microbiology in Peer Reviewed Journals in SSA
InstitutionNumber of PublicationsInstitutionNumber of Publications
Universidade de Sao Paulo5627Prins Leopold Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde322
Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz2291University of the Western Cape301
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro2107National Institute for Communicable Diseases298
UNESP - Universidade Estadual Paulista1963Addis Ababa University281
Universiteit van Pretoria1320University of Zimbabwe275
University of Cape Town1060Imperial College London274
Universiteit Stellenbosch976University of Fort Hare260
University of KwaZulu-Natal759University of the Free State259
Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria - Embrapa729National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases256
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine694Obafemi Awolowo University250
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco604Medical Research Council Laboratories Gambia246
Makerere University554International Livestock Research Institute Nairobi244
University of Ibadan490University of Ghana243
Kenya Medical Research Institute480Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute242
Universite de Yaounde I433University of California, San Francisco236
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention432CIRAD Centre de Recherche de Montpellier231
Universidade Federal da Bahia423Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco225
University of Nairobi369Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul223
Institut Pasteur, Paris356IRD Centre de Montpellier219
Organisation Mondiale de la Sante327CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique212
Table 4. A List of the Top 40 Journals That Have Published Most on Microbiology in SSA
JournalNumber of PublicationsJournalNumber of Publications
Plos One559Clinical and Vaccine Immunology128
Malaria Journal451Tropical Medicine and International Health125
Journal of Clinical Microbiology431International Journal for Parasitology118
Tropical Animal Health and Production330Journal of the South African Veterinary Association113
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene323Journal of Applied Microbiology107
Journal of Virology303Plos Medicine105
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy259South African Medical Journal105
Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases243Preventive Veterinary Medicine97
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research228Experimental and Applied Acarology86
East African Medical Journal222Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences84
BMC Infectious Diseases188Water Science and Technology84
South African Journal of Botany177Medecine Tropicale77
Infection and Immunity163Journal of Biological Chemistry76
Journal of Infectious Diseases157Nigerian Journal of Parasitology76
International Journal of Food Microbiology150Water SA75
Bulletin De La Societe De Pathologie Exotique149Plos Pathogens74
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy138Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes73
Journal of Ethnopharmacology137Clinical Microbiology and Infection72
Archives of Virology134Acta Tropica71
Applied and Environmental Microbiology128African Journal of Microbiology Research68
Table 5. List Areas Which Published Work on Microbiology
AreaNumber of PublicationAreaNumber of Publications
Medicine8559Materials Science165
Immunology and Microbiology6024Nursing161
Agricultural and Biological Sciences5184Mathematics123
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology4533Physics and Astronomy95
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics1844Neuroscience74
Environmental Science1661Energy58
Veterinary1593Dentistry57
Chemistry731Health Professions52
Chemical Engineering470Business, Management and Accounting49
Engineering382Arts and Humanities39
Earth and Planetary Sciences261Economics, Econometrics and Finance39
Social Sciences209Psychology21
Multidisciplinary200Decision Sciences8
Computer Science182Undefined3

4. Discussion

From 2000 to date, the Sub - Saharan African countries produced 18 992 publications in the domain of microbiology. This constitutes 1.7% of the 1098 433 worldwide publications indexed by Scopus. Quantitatively, this is 77% of the number of publications produced by Brazil and approximately 23% of publications produced by China. This is also equivalent to 45% of the publications from India. China spends 1.98% of their GDP on research. Brazil spends 1.2% and India spends 0.81%. Sub - Saharan Africa spends approximately 0.2% to 0.3% of its GDP on research (13). Thus, although the number of publications from Sub - Saharan countries may seem low, compared to the amount of GDP that is spent, Sub - Saharan African counties are exceeding expectations.

Thirty - four percent of the SSA (Sub - Saharan Africa) countries did not produce any publications associated with microbiology indexed in Scopus. South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya contributed the most to the publications and accounted for 57% of all publications from SSA. The remaining contributing countries produced an average of 276 publications each. Some countries seem to have published exceptionally well, including Gambia with 264 publications in spite of spending only 0.02% of its GDP on research in 2009 (2).

As shown in Figure 1, there was a significant increase in the number of papers that were published by SSA from 2000 to 2011. Each year there was an average of 96 extra publications compared to the previous year. Although from 2011, there has been a decrease in the number of publications produced by SAA. This, however, is also the trend shown in other developing countries like India and Brazil, where there is either a plateau or decrease in the rate of growth of publications. This may be attributed to the fact that microbiologists from SAA are now starting to focus on the qualitative quality of their research. In 2000, the top 3 journals that published the most results had an average impact factor of 3.2, while in 2014 the impact factor increased to 6.1.

Number of SSA publications from 2000 to October 2014.
Figure 1. Number of SSA publications from 2000 to October 2014.

In total, approximately 5000 microbiologists contributed to articles published in SSA. Each author produced an average of 7 papers each. The top 40 SSA authors produced an average of 55 ± 16 (α = 0.05) articles during the study period. Approximately, 60% of all authors produced 5 or less papers. The average number of articles published by the top SAA authors are in par with the international standards set by Brazil (an average of 57 papers) and India (an average of 59). There were approximately 2400 institutions that produced publications relating to SAA. Each institute produced an average of 24 publications each. Of the top 10 institutes that published the most articles pertaining to SAA, only 4 were from SAA. In fact, all 4 institutes were from South Africa in particular. The top 40 institutes produced an average of 550 publications. From 2000 to present, 1087 journals/conferences/publishers published work pertaining to SAA. Each published an average of 12 pieces of work relating to microbiology. Table 4 shows the list of the top 40 journals that have published work relating to SAA. The journal that published the most publications over the study period had an impact factor of 3.7. The top 40 journals/conferences/publishers published an average of 167 publications. The African journal of microbiology research appears in the top 40 list of journals/conferences/publishers.

Table 5 shows the most cited domains that the authors of the SAA papers felt their work consisted off. There were 29 unique domains, in which the work published during the study period were categorized. Medicine led the rest of the domains by 43%. Immunology and microbiology and agriculture and biological science followed medicine. Overall, 82% of all publications were original journal articles, 7% were review papers, and 2.6% were conference papers. Results indicate an improvement in the publication of microbiology research reported in previous studies. The total number of institutes that published studies that dealt with microbiology increased significantly (14). There was also a significant rise in the impact factor of journals that researchers published in since 2003. The contribution of South Africa to the world’s microbiology publications as reported by Molatudi and Pouris, 2006 has remained the same.

5. Conclusion

Although at first glance it may seem that SAA contributed very little towards (less than 2%) the world’s microbiology literature, a closer examination of GDP spend on research proves that SAA countries are making inroads in publishing literature. The first step towards publishing more research will be to spend more GDP on research. The extra capital will create resources desperately needed to conduct research. At the moment, it seems that outside countries are conducting research in SAA, and are publishing from their own institutions. Hence, one method of increasing research output from SSA, will be a policy implementation that all research carried out in SAA should include an SSA institution. The other issue that needs to be addressed is the actual writing of papers and capital required for article processing fees. Institutions need to have a budget allocated to publishing papers, with incentives for authors, such as paying conference fees or purchasing books or access to journals. The SSA with other developing countries also needs to create accredited journals for themselves that focus on SSA and authors of developing countries and research carried out by local institutions.

Most literature published over the last 14 years has been journal articles in journals with an impact factor of 3.7. In 2014, most articles were published in journals with an average impact factor of 6.1. In terms of the number of publications by the top authors in the field, it seems as if they quantitatively match other international countries like Brazil and India. This paper has the benefit of showing a snap shot of the state of publications in the field of microbiology over the past 14 years for SAA countries. This type of analysis for the entire SAA has not been done as far as the authors are aware. Further studies are suggested to include various open access journals in the search strategy.

References

  • 1.

    Rottingen JA, Regmi S, Eide M, Young AJ, Viergever RF, Ardal C, et al. Mapping of available health research and development data: what's there, what's missing, and what role is there for a global observatory?. Lancet. 2013;382(9900):1286-307. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61046-6. [PubMed: 23697824].

  • 2.

    The World Bank . Research and development expenditure (% of GDP). 2014. Available from: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/GB.XPD.RSDV.GD.ZS/countries/C9?order=wbapidatavalue2012%20wbapidatavalue%20wbapidatavalue-last&sort=asc&display=default.

  • 3.

    United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization . UNESCO Science Report 2010. 2010.

  • 4.

    Birdsall N, Rhee C. Does research and development contribute to economic growth in developing countries?. 1993.

  • 5.

    Bornmann L. How are excellent (highly cited) papers defined in bibliometrics? A quantitative analysis of the literature. Res Eval. 2014;23(2):166-73. doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvu002.

  • 6.

    Baghele ON, Mohkhedkar AS, Malpani PS. Intellectual contribution of Indian periodontists to world literature: a bibliometric evaluation of Pubmed database till 1st March, 2012. Scientometrics. 2013;99(3):999-1010. doi: 10.1007/s11192-013-1196-0.

  • 7.

    Mallik A, Mandal N. Bibliometric analysis of global publication output and collaboration structure study in microRNA research. Scientometrics. 2013;98(3):2011-37. doi: 10.1007/s11192-013-1128-z.

  • 8.

    Bhardwaj RK. Dengue Fever: A Bibliometric Analysis of India’s Contributions to the Research Literature of This Dangerous Tropical Disease. Sci Tech Libr. 2014;33(3):289-301. doi: 10.1080/0194262x.2014.943117.

  • 9.

    Li W, Zhao Y. Bibliometric analysis of global environmental assessment research in a 20-year period. Environ Impact Assess Rev. 2015;50:158-66. doi: 10.1016/j.eiar.2014.09.012.

  • 10.

    Molatudi M, Pouris A. Assessing the knowledge base for biotechnology in South Africa. Scientometrics. 2006;68(1):97-108. doi: 10.1007/s11192-006-0085-1.

  • 11.

    de Moya-Anegon F, Chinchilla-Rodriguez Z, Vargas-Quesada B, Corera-Alvarez E, Munoz-Fernandez FJ, Gonzalez-Molina A, et al. Coverage analysis of Scopus: A journal metric approach. Scientometrics. 2007;73(1):53-78. doi: 10.1007/s11192-007-1681-4.

  • 12.

    Burnham JF. Scopus database: a review. Biomed Digit Libr. 2006;3:1. doi: 10.1186/1742-5581-3-1. [PubMed: 16522216].

  • 13.

    National Research Council (US) . The Continuing Epidemiological Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.

  • 14.

    Vergidis PI, Karavasiou AI, Paraschakis K, Bliziotis IA, Falagas ME. Bibliometric analysis of global trends for research productivity in microbiology. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2005;24(5):342-6. doi: 10.1007/s10096-005-1306-x. [PubMed: 15834594].

  • COMMENTS

    LEAVE A COMMENT HERE: