Neo-colonial science by the most industrialised upon the least developed countries in peer-reviewed publishing


We are currently experiencing an era that is facing increasing global environmental and societal problems (e.g., climate change, habitat destruction and economic recession). Scientific research projects are often required to emphasize and counter the effects of inequity and globalisation, and prioritise cooperation supported by cooperative research. This paper investigates whether publication of research that is carried out in least developed countries is done in cooperation with research institutes from these countries. The study uses the Current Contents database of peer-reviewed publications from more than 7,000 journals in all sciences (Biology and environmental sciences; Physical, chemical and earth sciences; Engineering, computing and technology; Life sciences; Clinical medicine; Arts and humanities; Social and behavioral sciences) published between 1 January 1999 and 3 November 2000. From a total of 1,601,196 papers published, 2,798 articles of research activities carried out in the 48 least developed countries were selected using title information as an indicator. Collaborative relationships between research institutions involved was then analysed within and between countries and sciences. Our results show that publications of research, carried out in the least developed countries, do not have co-authorship of local research institutes in 70% of the cases, and that a majority of the papers is published by research institutes from the most industrialised countries in the world. We employed the use of questionnaires sent to authors from papers in the above-mentioned database to detect possible causes of this high percentage of lack of authorship in the essential academic currency that 'publications' are. 'Neo-colonial science' is identified as one of them. In addition, there exists a large discrepancy between what the surveyed scientists say they find important in international collaboration and joint publishing, and the way they act to it. However, the interpretation given to the fact that institutional co-authorship is underrepresented for local research institutions in the least developed countries is less important than the fact itself, and future research should concentrate on a scientific way to equilibrate this adverse trend.

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Dahdouh-Guebas, F., Ahimbisibwe, J., Van Moll, R. et al. Neo-colonial science by the most industrialised upon the least developed countries in peer-reviewed publishing. Scientometrics 56, 329–343 (2003).

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  • Industrialise Country
  • Target Country
  • Science Category
  • Scientific Research Project
  • Development Assistance Committee