An overview of the Web of Science record of scientific publications (2004–2013) from Nepal: focus on disciplinary diversity and international collaboration
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This study attempts to use bibliometry as a tool for exploration of the passage of development of the science and technology through analysis of the scientific publications from a developing country by taking into account its state of higher education and the unique political, economic and geo-bio-environmental conditions. It deals with Nepal considering its scientific output during 1966–2016 reflected as publications indexed in the Web of Science Database. Preliminary examination of the publication record for Nepal reveals a number of the following characteristics: (1) low volume, negligible growth and lack of distinct trend until 1989; (2) a marked growth followed by stagnation linked to political instability during the next 15 years; and (3) recovery and accelerated growth thereafter. Research publications during 2004–2013 increased thrice compared to 1994–2003, with expansion and shifts in disciplinary profile expressed in Essential Science Indicators 22 fields. Detailed bibliometric analysis of the 2004–2013 publications (3011 articles and reviews) from Nepal suggests the citation impact of about the world average, but very high (76%) average international co-authorship. The disciplinary profile is diverse judging from seven most productive fields (clinical medicine, plant and animal science, environment/ecology, geosciences, agricultural sciences, and chemistry) with 4–40% national disciplinary share. Clinical medicine, geosciences and agricultural sciences exhibit relatively high impact. Fields with the smaller share (< 3%), such as molecular biology and genetics, economics and business, psychiatry and psychology, materials science, and biology and biochemistry, exhibit citation impact distinctly higher than the world average. Publications from Nepal show the presence of a vast international collaborative network that is dominated by authors affiliated to institutions in the USA, India, UK, Japan, South Korea and Germany. Based on the analysis of the disciplinary diversity and the national versus global relative disciplinary shares, Nepal’s publication profile is inferred to be a hybrid of the ‘bio-environmental’ and ‘western’ models. Concerning the state of the development of science and technology in Nepal during 2004–2013, the high dependence on international collaboration in the internationally visible publications in most of the bio-environmental, physico-chemical and engineering fields points to basically a ‘building-up stage’. In clinical medicine (with a large share of public health) and geosciences, however, Nepal has demonstrated research strengths evident from the high citation impact in these fields. Moreover, the available data suggest that significant advances were made in higher education sector in both fields during the last 25 years. Despite the notable negative effect of the prolonged domestic armed political conflict on the research activities and acquisition of new data in the field-based sciences, the post-conflict period shows signs of recovery in both domestic and international collaborations leading to again an accelerated growth in scientific publications.
KeywordsBibliometrics Web of Science Co-word analysis Research collaboration Nepal Citation impact International co-authorship Science mapping Higher education Developing country
The author would like to express sincere gratitude to Dr. Yuji Sakakibara, former Director General of NISTEP, Tokyo, for giving very practical tips on rapid percentile analysis of bibliographic data in terms of scientific fields. Critical and constructive comments as well as encouragements by an anonymous reviewer and Professor Wolfgang Glänzel, the chief editor, on the earlier versions of the manuscript prompted renewed analyses by the author leading to significant additions and improvements in the revised manuscript. A part of this material was presented during the 10th International Conference on Webometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics (WIS) held in Ilmenau, Germany.
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