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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


SOORYAMOORTHY, Radhamany. The internationalisation of South African medical research, 1975-2005. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2010, vol.106, n.7-8, pp.1-7. ISSN 1996-7489.

South Africa's record in the production of scientific knowledge in medicine is remarkable, but attempts have yet to be made to examine its distinctive characteristics. This is critical to the understanding of its nature, trends and the directions which it is taking today. Using the publication records extracted from the Science Citation Index (SCI) of the ISI Web of Science for a 3-decade period from 1975 to 2005, with 5-year windows, Ihave examined the salient characteristics of medical research in South Africa in terms of, (1) the number of publications, (2) type of publications (sole/co-authored), (3) collaboration (domestic/international), (4) affiliation sector of authors and collaborators, (5) regional origin of collaborators, (6) publication outlets and (7) citations, in comparison with 'all subjects' covered in the database concerned. This analysis shows that the contribution of medical publications to the total output of South African scholars is shrinking (25% in 1980 to 8% in 2000). Papers produced in collaboration are growing in number (increased by 17% during 1975-2005). While domestic collaboration declined by 24%, international collaboration grew from 4% of total papers in 1975 to 48% in 2005. South African medical researchers now publish more in foreign-originated journals (from 20% in 1975 to 75% in 2005) than in local journals and work mostly in universities, hospitals and research institutes; they collaborate with overseas partners from as many as 56 countries. Significantly, collaboration with Western European partners has increased 45-fold from 1975-2005. This study showed that a marked degree of internationalisation (measured in terms of international collaboration, publications in foreign journals and the number of citations) of South African medical research is taking place and that this trend is likely to continue in the future.

Keywords : citation; domestic collaboration; internationalisation; international collaboration; medical research.

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