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An informetric analysis of HIV/AIDS research in Eastern and Southern Africa, 1980-2005

A thesis submitted to the Department of Library and Information Science
for the award of a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in
Library and Information Science
Facultv of Arts at the University of Zululand, 2007. / HIV/AIDS is said to be a new type of global emergency - an unprecedented threat to human development requiring sustained action and commitment over a long term. Nowhere is its impact felt more than in Sub-Saharan Africa, even more so in Eastern and Southern Africa. HIV/AIDS, in all its dimensions, demands novel alliances between the social and biological sciences, particularly when it comes to designing effective interventions to prevent or treat the complications of HTV transmission. This study therefore sought to provide decision makers and other stakeholders with a tool to use when formulating policies on HIV/AIDS intervention programs. To that end, the study set out to examine the research output and impact of HIV/AIDS by identifying and determining its nature, types, and trends in Eastern and Southern Africa as indexed and reflected in the MEDLINE, Science Citation Index (SCI) and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) databases. Specifically, the study's focus was:
♦ To examine the nature, trend and type of HIV/AIDS research collaboration in
E&S Africa between 1980 and 2005 with a view to recommend ways of
improving or strengthening such collaborative activities.
♦ To examine the growth, productivity and scientific impact of HIV/AIDS sources
of information [source publications] as they relate to E&S Africa between 1980
and 2005 in order to assess the visibility and coverage of HTV/AIDS sources and
to provide relevant information so as to assist information providers, users in
general, and more specifically, collection development librarians, particularly in
the two regions, in their decision making processes regarding the identification,
selection and development of relevant HIV/AIDS resources
•> To evaluate the performance of individual authors, institutions and countries in terms of their productivity and scientific impact with a view to: (a) identify the most prolific and influential researchers, countries and institutions that conduct HIV/AIDS research in and about E&S Africa and (b) to compare the productivity and scientific impact of domestic/regional authors, institutions, and countries with their foreign counterparts.

♦ To assess the publishing activity in the fields/topics of HTV/AIDS research in order to: (a) distinctly bring out a clear picture on the efforts made in the various sub-fields of HIV/AIDS research and (b) to find out the relatedness of the risk factors, opportunistic infections, pre-disposing factors, sexually transmitted diseases and other tropical diseases that are common in Africa to HIV/AIDS.
Using informetrics (as a research method) and more specifically publications count and citations count and analyses, relevant data was extracted from three key bibliographic databases (i.e. MEDLINE, SCI and SSCI) through an advanced search strategy which was employed to search and download HIV/AIDS documents specific to Eastern and Southern Africa using the Title, Abstract, Authors address and Subject Fields. This was accomplished by combining the names of the countries and 26 HTV/AEDS-specific terms which included the terms by which HIV/AIDS was known at the beginning of the epidemic. The downloaded data was analyzed using various computer-aided bibliographic software that included Sitkis version 1.5 ©2005, Microsoft Office Access ©2003, Microsoft Office Excel ©2003, Bibexcel ©2005, Citespace version 2.0.1 ©2005, TI, UCESTET for Windows ©2002, and Pajek version 1.08 ©1996.
The findings show that HTV7AIDS research in E&S Africa is largely conducted through collaboration, as illustrated by the number of co-authored papers, which accounted for over 70% of the total number of papers in each country. Research collaboration between E&S African countries is rninimal when compared to the collaborative activities between these and foreign countries (i.e. countries outside Africa). This type of collaboration was predominant, and collaboration between E&S African countries and the rest of Africa was found to be almost non-existent, with the countries in West Africa recording a comparatively higher pattern than North African countries. Institutional collaboration is mainly between universities. Nevertheless, industry-university collaboration was visible, especially between government laboratories, ministries or teaching hospitals and the university, which to a large extent was responsible in the day-to-day running of the hospital teaching facilities/programs. It was also observed that there has been a remarkable growth in the number of HIV/AIDS researchers' networks between 1980 and

2005. The composition of these networks shows a high pattern of collaboration between local and foreign researchers. Finally, it was noted that research collaboration increases the average impact by 12.75 citations, while research conducted by individual researchers increases the average impact by only 3.48 citations.
Concerning the sources of HTV7AIDS research, it was noted that the coverage of sources published in E&S African countries in key bibliographic databases is minimal, with the MEDLINE database indexing only 14 (1.01%) serials, while SCI and SSCI respectively covered 23 (1.65%) and 4 (0.29%) of the total 1393 serials published in the regions. Furthermore, sources that publish HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa are evenly distributed in the MEDLINE and ISI databases, although about 50% of the total research output is unique in each database. Other observations were as follows: (a) journals are the most commonly used sources and channels in publishing and disseminating HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa. The second most preferred source and channel was that of newspapers; (b) the number of sources publishing HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa has exponentially increased over the period under study, i.e. 1980-2005, thereby posing serious challenges to collection development librarians and researchers/authors; (c) sources that publish HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa are largely published in foreign countries. Out of the total 804 and 823 HIV/AIDS sources in MEDLINE and ISI, respectively, 92.54% and 97.57% were published in foreign countries, while locally published sources accounted for 3.73% and 2.19% of the total source publications in MEDLINE and ISI, respectively; (d) most HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa is published in relatively low impact factor journals. Out of the total 823 sources in ISI, only 11 sources had an impact factor of more than 10.0; (e) HIV/AIDS research on E&S Africa is largely published in medical science-specific source publications, and more particularly, in general medical sources; and (f) there are about 13 core sources of HIV/AIDS research, namely, AIDS, LANCET, J INFECT DIS, NEW ENGL J MED, J VIROL, J ACQ IMMUN DEF SYND, JAMA, AIDS RES HUM RETROV, SCIENCE, BRIT MED J, S AFR MED J, SOC SCI MED, and J CLIN MICROBIOL.

An analysis of the data according to the producers of HIV/AIDS research yielded the following findings: (a) a relatively high number of countries (i.e. 120) have been or are engaged in conducting HIV/AIDS research about E&S Africa; (b) HTV7AIDS research is evenly conducted in and/or by regional and foreign countries. Counting the frequencies of occurrence of each country in the address field yielded a total sum of 7041 occurrences for foreign countries and 6161 for African countries; (c) most HIV/AIDS research about E&S Africa is published in foreign countries, which accounted for approximately 83% and 88% of the total research papers in MEDLINE and ISI, respectively; (d) HIV/AIDS research is largely conducted by or at universities; and (e) the impact of HIV/AIDS research in and about E&S Africa has continued to increase as illustrated by the continued growth of the number of citations between 1980 and 2005. Nevertheless, a relatively huge amount of HIV/AIDS research (26.2%) remains uncited.
Concerning the subject content of HIV/AIDS research, the following were the main observations: (a) the number of keywords/terms that are used to index HIV/AIDS research outputs has exponentially grown, thus providing a number of options for accessing HTV/AIDS research findings; (b) HTV/AIDS-specific terms (i.e. HIV infections and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) are the major keywords by which HIV/AIDS research findings can be accessed in the indexing services/databases; (c) HIV/AIDS research in E&S Africa is mostly on the sub-fields of epidemiology, prevention & control, transmission, complications, and Drug therapy; (d) drug therapy and Anti-Retrovirals (ARVs) are quickly emerging as the main areas of HIV/AIDS research in E&S Africa; and (e) HIV/AIDS is strongly associated with opportunistic infections, pre-disposing factors, risk factors, sexually transmitted diseases and other tropical diseases that are common in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Finally, the study, while commending researchers in the region for their collaborative efforts, recommends that research collaboration, both at the national and international level, should be encouraged through such means as organizing international conferences within E&S Africa where researchers can exchange ideas and in so doing they can identify researchers from other countries with whom they can collaborate. Regarding the

dissemination of HIV/AIDS research through publications, it was recommended that researchers be encouraged by way of incentives to present the findings in regionalized conferences as well as publish them in both print and electronic conference proceedings while publishing the papers in foreign sources. For purposes of visibility and impact, local journal publishers should endeavor to publish their journals both electronically and in print. In this way, both researchers and sources that publish HIV/AIDS research would receive a wider visibility and produce higher impact.
In conclusion, it is hoped that the findings of this study will support HTV/AIDS researchers, funding organizations, AIDS prevention and control institutions, public health professionals, information service professionals, and government health ministries, among others, looking for information which can improve the quality of their decision making and/or increase their competitive intelligence. / University of Eastern Africa; and The research committee of the University of Zululand

Identiferoai:union.ndltd.org:netd.ac.za/oai:union.ndltd.org:uzulu/oai:uzspace.unizulu.ac.za:10530/112
Date January 2007
CreatorsOnyacha, Omwoyo Bosire
ContributorsOcholla, D.N.
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
LanguageEnglish
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis
Formatapplication/pdf

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