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The characteristics of highly cited researchers in Africa

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 15:03 authored by Hugo Confraria, Jaco Blanckenberg, Charl Swart
Very little is known about the characteristics of highly cited scientists in Africa. This is unfortunate as highly cited researchers are seen as key drivers of knowledge production for their countries and as important conduits of frontier knowledge into the local academic research community and society in general. In this article, we combined bibliometric and survey data to identify which researchers are producing highly cited research in Africa, and we employed econometric analysis to understand which characteristics are associated with the likelihood of being highly cited. Overall, our results suggest that, on average, researchers who produce more scientific publications in a year, collaborate more often with non-African partners, and do their highest qualification in an Anglo-Saxon university (the USA, the UK, Canada, or Australia), have a higher probability of producing highly cited research. We conclude by arguing about the duality of our results. On the one hand, collaborating with frontier universities seems to be a crucial mechanism that allows researchers to develop scientific capabilities. On the other hand, policy makers should be aware that research assessment in African countries should go beyond measuring scientific impact in the academic community. Otherwise, incentives will be in place to stimulate winners that are already well connected with the global scientific elite.


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  • Published


Research Evaluation




Oxford University Press





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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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