Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (III)

  The third delivery of research output data from Sudanese institutions deals with the most frequent ISI journal titles in which researchers publish their work, as well as the disciplines this top-class Sudanese research gets classified into. It's no major surprise that medicine, and specifically tropical medicine and parasitology, are the top ISI publishing subjects in Sudan. There are however other highlighted areas, such as chemistry or astrobiology, the latter one experiencing a surge in published papers after a meteorite fell on the Nubian desert in Oct 2008.

Evolving trends in research publishing patterns mentioned in previous posts are traceable in this chapter as well, such as the significant increase in the number of publications. Another aspect becomes evident when examining the evolution of the top-Sudanese ISI journal title list, namely the progressive internationalisation of the
research carried out in the country and its getting published more frequently in high impact factor journals. It's also relevant to notice some Open Access journals getting featured in the top-title list for the most recent period (2006-2011), showing that Open Access publishing -specially in given areas such as tropical medicine- is gradually becoming mainstream.

The list of most frequent ISI journal titles where high-quality Sudanese research was published in the period 2000-2005 features the Saudi Medical Journal in a clear first place, well above any other one. Most titles deal with medicine, tropical medicine and veterinary medicine. In a list of 300 ISI journal titles where at least one Sudanese research article was published along 2000-2005, only seven titles amount for 10 or more papers.

The journal title list for 2006-2011 is much wider in comparison: it features 502 titles, 20 of which get 10 research papers or more (that is, more than double number of titles than along the previous period). Not only is this list wider in scope, but it is far more diverse: more international in nature, it also includes some African journals -such as the African Journal of Biotechnology and the African Journal of Agricultural Research, both of them Open Access- and a couple of additional well-established Open Access journals - the Malaria journal and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Even more important than that, the difference in number of papers between the first title and the rest of them is not as large as before, showing a much more diverse and 'healthier' research output publishing pattern. Tropical medicine, veterinary and general medicine remain the top research fields in terms of international visibility, although 'Meteoritics & Planetary Science' being in the sixth position accounts for this sudden flow of publications resulting from the 2008 meteorite episode and is again a proof of subject diversity in research.

Finally, the list of ISI subject areas shown below (both for the 2000-2005 and 2006-2011 periods) means a further confirmation for the already mentioned medicine-oriented publishing trend: all four areas with over 10% of the whole research output in the 2000-2005 list are related to medicine and health issues.

In the subject classification for 2006-2011 the percentages are significantly lower: research topics become more diverse and only Tropical Medicine tops 10% of the whole research output. In both subject lists agriculture, chemistry and food science appear also as big topics in Sudanese research, and it's good news to find both environmental issues and engineering featured on them as well.

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