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Epidemiology and public health research productivity in Africa


Academic year: 2021

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Letters to the Editor

Epidemiology and public health research productivity in Africa



Public Health Department, Ministry of Health, Victoria, Republic of Seychelles,2School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA and 3University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland

*Corresponding author. E-mail: jude.gedeon@health.gov.sc

Nachega and colleagues make a comprehensive

review of the current status and future prospects of epidemiology and public health training and research in the WHO African region.1 We note, however, that the number of papers adjudicated to the Seychelles in the considered period (1981–2010) was substantially underestimated. If this occurred for other countries, it could have led to a commensurate underestimation of the true productivity in the region. The authors attrib-uted 28 peer-reviewed articles that included at least one local co-author affiliated with an institution in the Seychelles. However, we are aware of at least 128 peer-reviewed manuscripts meeting the criteria,

most of which have abstracts freely available

on PubMed (a list is available from the authors). Many of these papers were published in high-impact medical journals, with the majority relating to popu-lation-based epidemiological research on noncommu-nicable diseases. Admittedly, research in Seychelles

(a country with a very small population and where a university was only recently created) benefitted from collaborative agreements with a number of

large universities globally. These arrangements

helped build, strengthen and sustain local research capacity. We agree with the encouraging conclusions reached by Nachega and colleagues on the increasing research capacity in the African continent, but also call for renewed scrutiny when assessing papers pub-lished in the continent.



Nachega JB, Uthman OA, Ho YS et al. Current status and future prospects of epidemiology and public health training and research in the WHO African region. Int J Epidemiol 2012;41:1829–46.


Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association ß The Author 2013; all rights reserved.

International Journal of Epidemiology 2013;42:913–914

Authors’ Response to: Epidemiology and public health research

productivity in Africa



Department of Medicine and Centre for Infectious Diseases, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa,2Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA,3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA, 4Department of Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases Program,

Pittsburgh University, Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,5Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Stellenbosch

University, Cape Town, South Africa,6Primary Care Sciences, Keele University, Keele, UK,7Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine,

Liverpool, UK and8Trend Research Centre, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan

*Corresponding author. E-mail: jnachega@sun.ac.za

We fully agree that the results of bibliometric analysis published in IJE1 may be conservative given that our methodology may not have captured all the existing publications from some countries (e.g. Seychelles). We adopted the ‘absolute country counting’ method, where each country contributing to an article received

one paper credit based on the first, last or correspond-ing author originatcorrespond-ing from such country. Although we have attempted to eliminate potential flaws in our bibliometric analysis, some limitations were inev-itable and are linked to the inherent problems of bibliometric analyses. For example, one possible Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association

ß The Author 2013; all rights reserved.

International Journal of Epidemiology 2013;42:913


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