Research without Borders: sharing expertise in Africa

Friday, January 13th, 2017

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is equivalent to 12 percent of our global population, and the region is evolving rapidly. Between 2003 and 2012, annual research output doubled while the African share of global research grew by 63 percent, according to the 2014 World Bank-Elsevier report, A Decade of Development in Sub-Saharan African STEM Research, which examines research output, citations and collaborations.

As promising as this trend is, however, it accounts for less than 1 percent of the world’s research output. One of the obstacles faced by African research is that it’s hard to find. African research often focuses on local or regional topics and is published in unindexed journals or remains unpublished as dissertations and theses on library shelves. But what would happen if we could dramatically boost the discoverability of African research? What kind of innovations and pioneering inquiries would emerge if African scientists also had better access to high quality, home grown, indexed journals? Or if ties with the international research community were strengthened?

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But one program has gone a step further; the African Journal Partnership Program (AJPP) has been working directly with African health and medical journals to strengthen their impact. The mentorship program pairs African with leading biomedical journals from the US and UK, including JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, The New England Journal of Medicine, Environmental Health Perspectives and The Lancet. Launched in 2004, the partnership has grown from four to nine African journals.