* African contribution to scientific research very small
* Brain drain, lack of investment partly to blame
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, April 12 Africa's contribution to the
global body of scientific research is very small and does little
to benefit its own populations, according to a report from
Thomson Reuters (TRI.N) released on Monday.
Like India and China, Africa suffers from a "haemorrhage of
talent", the report said, with many of its best brains leaving
to study abroad and failing to return.
"The African diaspora provides powerful intellectual input
to the research achievements of other countries, but returns
less benefit to the countries of birth," Jonathan Adams,
director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters, said in a
statement as the report was published.
More information about the report is available here
Adams and colleagues, who use a Thomson Reuters database to
track scientific publications, found that three nations dominate
Africa's research output -- with South Africa leading by a long
way, ahead of Egypt in second place and then Nigeria.
"Africa's overall volume of activity remains small, much
smaller than is desirable if the potential contribution of its
researchers is to be realised for the benefit of its
populations," said Adams.
The report found that part of the problem was down to a
"chronic lack of investment in facilities for research and
teaching" -- a deficit the authors said must be remedied.
Adams said the reason behind this was not simply money: "The
resources available in some African countries are substantial,
but they are not being invested in the research base."
In fields of research relevant to natural resources,
however, the study found a relatively high representation of
African research as a share of world publications.
South Africa's 1.55 percent share of research in plant and
animal science is the continent's biggest share in any field, it
said, with this output surpassing Russia's 1.17 percent but well
behind China's 5.42 percent share in the same field.
The report pointed to a few examples of countries which,
despite low output, produced much higher quality research than
Malawi, for example, with one-tenth the annual research
output of Nigeria, produces research of a quality that exceeds
the world average benchmark while Nigeria hovers at around half
that impact level, the report said.
"The challenges that the continent faces are enormous and
indigenous research could help provide both effective and
focused responses," it added.
The study is part of a series showing the changing landscape
and dynamics of scientific research around the world.
Previous studies found that China had more than doubled its
output of scientific papers to rank second only to the United
States in terms of volume, while Russia's influence in science
and scientific industries was rapidly shrinking. [ID:nN02461423]
(Editing by Michael Roddy)