Original Research

The significance of citation impact indicators of research performance in the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa

Japhet Bakuwa
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 10, No 1 | a15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v10i1.15 | © 2014 Japhet Bakuwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2016 | Published: 30 July 2014

About the author(s)

Japhet Bakuwa, Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, South Africa

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This paper argues that Sub-Saharan Africa needs to produce more journals indexed by ISI Web of Science (WoS). Researchers from the region should also publish in other ISI indexed, reputable and high impact journals such as Nature and Science. Inevitably, this will make Sub-Saharan African researchers visible and globally competitive. The Sub- Saharan African region has only about 40 journals out of over 12 000 journals that have been indexed by the ISI Web of Science (WoS). Arguably, ranking of universities across the globe and qualification for Nobel Prizes are determined by metrics-based evaluation of research performance. Sub-Saharan Africa is poorly represented on the world university rankings. The region has also produced only six Nobel Prize award winners from 1901 to 2010. In the same period, USA, UK and Germany produced 326, 116 and 102 recipients respectively. While there are some limitations on the use of citation indicators to evaluate research output, this researcher argues that citation impact indicators of research performance provide policymakers, researchers and funding agencies with an objective measure for assessing research performance and therefore are of great significance in the developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.


bibliometrics; citation impact indicators; journal impact factor; research output; Sub-Saharan Africa; Web of Science (WoS); Scopus; Google Scholar


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