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Nations Participating in Research4Life Continue to See Rise in Article Output

Dr. Andrew Plume, Elsevier | Nov 01, 2009

The [first] chart shows absolute growth in research between 1996 and 2008, comparing non-Research4Life countries (countries not eligible due to their per capita income or Gross National Income), Band 1 countries (eligible with less than $1,250 GNI) and Band 2 countries (eligible with $1,251 to $3,500 GNI). The [second] chart shows the rise in article output in four countries that participated in Research4Life (Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Bulgaria), compared to Japan, which did not.

As readers of the Library Connect Newsletter may recall, in 2008, I published in this newsletter an article reporting on the rise in article output among nations participating in the HINARI Access to Research Initiative. Earlier this year, I took a look at article output among nations participating in HINARI, AGORA and OARE, three of the programs now under the Research4Life umbrella.

My new research impact analysis has identified a dramatic rise in the number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals by scientists in the developing world since 2002, when the first Research4Life program, HINARI, was launched.

Analysis shows 194% increase in article output

By comparing absolute growth in published research before (1996–2002) and after (2002–2008) the advent of the Research4Life programs, I found among HINARI, AGORA and OARE Band 2 nations a 194% or 6.4-fold increase in articles published in peer-reviewed journals. To count the appearance of each country in the author affiliations of indexed journal articles, I used a database sourced from Thomson Reuters and then grouped these countries by their Research4Life eligibility. My analysis 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 $1,250 annual per capita income or GNI) and 30% in Band 2 countries (eligible countries with $1,251 to $3,500 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.

In addition, I took an in-depth look at four Research4Life countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Bulgaria. This closer inspection revealed a remarkable progression of article output from 1996 to 2008. By contrast, Japan, a non-Research4Life country, showed steady and continuous growth without a sharp change in output over the same period.

Surge in output correlates with increase in Research4Life participation

While the growth in Research4Life nations’ article output is probably the result of many related factors, such as scientific policy, government and private research funding and other global developments, such a dramatic increase in research output also reflects a clear correlation with the launch of the Research4Life programs. The statistics I have identified point to Research4Life’s profound impact on institutions and individual researchers’ ability to publish.

Kimberly Parker, the HINARI program manager at theWorld Health Organization, has explained that 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,” she said. “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.”

Correlating to the surge in article output among HINARI, AGORA and OARE nations is the growth in institutions participating in Research4Life programs. OARE has registered 1,500 institutions since its launch in 2006. HINARI has grown by 61% since 2006, so that researchers at 3,866 nonprofit institutions in 108 countries now have access to over 6,300 medical and health journals. AGORA 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.

Research4Life improves the quality of life

Recipients of research made accessible via Research4Life say it’s helping them progress that will ultimately improve the standard of living in their nations.

"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…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."

What is Research4Life?

Research4Life is the collective name for a group of public-private partnerships that seek to help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by providing the developing world with access to critical scientific research. Since 2002, the Research4Life programs—Health Access to Research (HINARI), Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) and now aRDi (Access to Research for Development and Innovation)—have offered research for free or at very low cost to developing countries. Key partners includeMicrosoft, WHO, FAO, UNEP, Cornell University, Yale University and the International Association of Scientific, Technical andMedical Publishers. Over 150 publishers, among themElsevier, Springer,Wiley-Blackwell and Oxford University Press, provide the journal content.

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