Publishing Research Quarterly

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 227–246

Open Research Data in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Bibliometric Study Using the Data Citation Index



The purpose of the study was to explore the status of research data sharing among researchers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and internationally. Relevant data was extracted from the Data Citation Index (DCI) using an advanced search strategy, which was limited to the publication years between 2009 and 2014. Data was analysed to obtain the number of data records by country, institution, subject category, year of publication, and document type as well as the number of citations. A Spearman’s correlation analysis was conducted to gauge the relationship between the data records and research articles. Findings indicate that only 20 (out of 50) countries in sub-Saharan Africa produced at least one data record in the DCI, with South Africa leading the pack with 539 (61.39 %) records followed by Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana. SSA contributes a mere 0.03 % of the world’s research data as compared to 1.4 % of the world’s research articles. Research institutions and universities are the major contributors of research data, which largely focuses on Genetics and Heredity (61.3 %), Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (61.3 %), Agriculture (29.2 %) and Forestry (27.3 %). Citation-wise, the research data has attracted fewer average citations than the articles. A correlational analysis of the data reveals that there is a significant correlation between the publication of data and research articles.


Research Data Research Data Management Open Access Scholarly publishing Sub-Saharan Africa Electronic publishing 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information ScienceUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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