A new research impact analysis has demonstrated a dramatic rise in research output by scientists in the developing world since 2002, the partners of Research4Life announced today at the World Conference of Science Journalists 2009.
By comparing absolute growth in published research before (1996 - 2002) and after (2002 - 2008) the advent of the Research4Life programmes, the analysis has revealed a 194% or 6.4-fold increase in articles published in peer reviewed journals.
Research4Life is the collective name given to HINARI, AGORA and OARE, the three public-private partnerships that offer health, agriculture and environmental research for free or at very low cost to developing countries. Key partners include WHO, FAO, UNEP, Cornell and Yale Universities, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers and Microsoft as the technology partner. Over 150 publishers, among them Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell and Oxford University Press provide the journal content.
The analysis, conducted by Elsevier's Associate Director of Scientometrics & Market Analysis, Dr Andrew Plume, showed that absolute growth in research between 1996 - 2002 was 25% in non Research4Life countries (countries not eligible due to their GNI per capita), 22% in Band 1 countries (eligible countries with less than $1250 annual per capita income or GNI) and 30% in Band 2 countries (eligible countries with $1251 to $3500 GNI). Five years on, between 2002 - 2008, the same figures are dramatically higher at 67%, 145% and 194% respectively indicating 2.6-, 6.5- and 6.4-fold increases over the 1996-2002 growth. Dr Plume used a database sourced from Thomson Reuters to count the appearance of each country in the author affiliations of indexed journal articles, and then grouped these countries by their Research4Life eligibility.
In addition, an in-depth look at three selected Band 1 countries, (Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania) and one Band 2 country (Bulgaria) reveals a remarkable progression of article output from 1996 - 2008. By contrast, the non Research4Life country Japan (for example) showed steady and continuous growth over this period without a sharp change in output over the period analysed.
"The opportunities to conduct original scholarly research without access to the world's published literature are limited. Discoveries build on generations of research done previously," remarked Kimberly Parker, HINARI Program Manager at the WHO. "Research4Life has extended the reach of that scholarly heritage into the developing world, increasing researchers' opportunities to participate in the global research community by conducting groundbreaking research, collaborating with global colleagues, and in time contributing to evidence-based scientific policy in their own countries. We are very excited to see the growing output coming from the developing world."
Dr Andrew Plume noted, "The massive and sustained growth in scholarly output from the Research4Life countries, over and above the growth for the rest of the world, is probably the result of many related factors such as scientific policy, government and private research funding, and other global developments. However, such a dramatic increase in research output also reflects a clear correlation with the launch of the Research4Life programmes. These statistics point to Research4Life's profound impact on institutions and individual researchers' ability to publish."
"Since we have had access to Research4Life, the researchers, and especially the clinicians at the College of Medicine, University of Port Harcourt, have been able to engage more with the global science community," stated Henrietta Otokunefor, Automation Librarian at the University of Port Harcourt Library in Nigeria. "The library computers and those at the ICTC for faculty are often occupied and I've seen a growth in published research from our students as well. It is great to see that Nigeria has made progress in this area as increased scientific developments can lead to improved health and economics, and in the end, a better quality of life."
The results of the impact analysis are further illustrated by Research4Life's recent institutional growth findings announced in May 2009. OARE, the Online Access to Research in the Environment program has registered 1500 institutions since its launch in 2006, an increase of nearly 700 percent. The Health Access to Research programme: HINARI has grown by 61% since 2006 so that researchers at 3,866 not-for-profit institutions in 108 countries now have access to over 6,300 medical and health journals. AGORA or Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture has increased registrants by 77% since 2006, providing researchers at 1,760 developing world institutions with access to 1,276 food, agriculture, and related social sciences journals.