An Analysis of the Growth of African Trypanosomiasis Research between 1900 and 1985

  • G. A. Thompson
Research Article


The purpose of this study is to elucidate the production dynamics, growth characteristics and trends of African trypanosomiasis research (ATREP) literature between 1900 and 1985 through graphical methods.

The data analysed comprised 5139 articles from Tropical Diseases Bulletin and Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Information Quarterly. Counting technique was employed in sorting the articles according to yearly production and respective subject disciplines. The bibliometric ranks of the disciplines were determined based on (1) the total output and (2) the average decennial relative changes (Rc) in publications between 1936 and 1985 using 1936/45 as the base decade.

The results show that the growth is neither linear nor logistic but exponential with an average 39.5-year doubling time. A marked feature is the occurrence of high “epidemic” peaks between 1910–1914 and 1979–1985, a state in which publications were produced at relatively high level probably due to new discoveries or research orientation; and hence capable of quickly infecting a large number of scientists enhancing productivity. There was also a low level of activity from 1914 which lasted for about 22 years.

The foundation disciplines for African Trypanosomiasis Research Programme (ATREP) are entomology and parasitology. Entomology had the highest bibliometric rank followed by parasitology. However, the Refactors indicate that greater attention, as depicted by publication outburst, was given to physiology, immunology, biochemistry, and epidemiology between 1976–1985 than had been before.

In spite of its consistently higher output, entomology exhibited the greatest fluctuating growth trend than all the other components. A possible explanation for this behaviour was ventured.

Key Words

African trypanosomiasis bibliometrics publication production/dynamics quantitative growth 


Le but de cette étude est d’elucider les charactéristiques particulières à la croissance de la litérature Africaine sur la trypanosomiase, un champ type de recherche biomédical et couvrant plusieurs disciplines.

Les données analysées comprènnent 5139 titres d’abstraits dans le Bulletin de Maladies Tropicales et la Revue Trimestrielle d’Information sur la Tsétsé et la Trypanosomiase. La méthode de comptage rut utilisée tout au cours de l’étude alors que le mode de croissance et les taux d’augmentation furent analysées par des techniques graphiques.

La Trypanosomiase Africaine constitue encore un champ de recherche très actif. Bien qu’il fut charactérise plus tût par une croissance fluctuante et ondulante avec le nombre moyen d’articles augmentant et declinant, l’état actuel est celui d’un degré de croissance infectieuse.

En moyenne, les taux de croissance quinquenales et décenales sont de 103% et 73% respectivement alors que le taux cummulatif de croissance est de 48%. Done, le mode de croissance n’est ni linéaire ni logique mais exponentiel avec un taux doublant tous les 53 ans. Les résultats montrent aussi que les disciplines de base pour le Programme de Recherche Africaine sur la Trypanosomiase sont l’entomologie et la parasitologie. Elles occupent en bibliométrie, des rangs d’ordre les plus elevés, étant les plus productlves. Leur croissance est aussi exponentielle avec des taux doublant tous les 70 et 60 ans respectivement. Une observation majeure de cette étude est que la croissance exponentielle générate des données sur la trypanosomiase en Afrique est obtenue en surimposant les models exponentiels de chacun des composants l’un sur l’autre. Ceci se différencie du model de combinaison linéaire que l’rencontre dans d’autre litératures.


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Copyright information

© ICIPE 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis ResearchKadunaNigeria

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