Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (IV)

  Only recently has ThomsonReuters started providing information for funding agencies and institutions from papers published in ISI journal titles. This fact results in several difficulties when trying to analyze information about the funding of Sudanese research. In first place, only data for the period 2006-2011 is available, and names of funding agencies have not been standardized yet, so there are plenty of duplicates in the featured table (see complete list here).

The main problem lies not however in funder name standardization, but in the fact that many research papers do not contain any funder information (such is the case for 944 records out of the total research output of 1323 papers published in ISI titles along the period 2006-2011, that is an amazing 71,5% of them). The results from the analysis of funder institutions must therefore be handled with caution, as they provide just a partial description of the research funding situation in Sudan. An effort was made anyway to standardize funder entries in the table by grouping similar names with slight variations, so the results should be as reliable as they can get given the limited available source data.

Even if incomplete, the picture of agencies funding Sudanese research looks rather diversified: international institutions such as the World Health Organization or the World Bank, funding agencies from Europe (European Union, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Swedish Agency for Research Development), from Asia (Chinese National Science Foundation, China Postdoctoral Science Foundation), the UK (Wellcome Trust) and the US (National Institutes of Health, NASA, US Department of Agriculture) are featured on the list. The University of Khartoum then emerges as the largest national research funder, followed by the Sudanese Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research.

A sufficiently diversified and sufficiently large research funding agencies base is well-known to be a precondition for a sound research activity and output, and in this regard -all political considerations accounted for- Sudanese researchers could certainly do better. Research output figures shown in previous posts do however show that even with a limited source of funding, Sudanese research has significantly improved its high-quality output along the last decade. Realisation of this fact may hopefully be a stimulus for improving the funding
situation, as it's widely acknowledged a solid research activity will benefit all sectors in a country.

Finally, a good number of current funding agencies operating in Sudan have established some kind of Open Access policy, by which the research results of such funding (that is mainly research papers) should be made available Open Access within 6 or 12 months from its publication on a research journal. Funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust or the European Union have such Open Access mandates in place as of today, and research output produced at Sudanese universities or research centres is already available full-text at Open Access repositories such as PubMed Central, UKPMC or arXiv as a result.

The University of Khartoum shortly having an Institutional Repository of its own means researchers affiliated with U of K Faculty of Science will be able to comply with these Open Access policies by simply depositing a copy of their research papers at DSpace@ScienceUofK, either directly (via self-archiving) or with help from the repository managers (mediated deposit).

If you are a Faculty of Science U of K researcher and would like to have your research papers deposited at DSpace@ScienceUofK, please send an email to and the repository managers will get in touch for support.

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