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Collaboration and `visibility' of health research in the Western Pacific Region

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Guillermo Paraje, Lecturer and Researcher, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Chile
with Ritu Sadana and Reijo Salmela


Using a bibliometric approach, the current paper firstly documents the collaboration pattern of countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region, and, secondly, illustrates how `visible' health research is from this region and how different patterns of collaboration (i.e. with certain groups of countries ­ high- income or low-income countries) can alter the `visibility' of such research.

More than 3.5 million bibliographic references in Thomson ISI Web of Science (health-related articles, notes and reviews) were analysed. Citations were established and recorded for each reference over a three-year period after initial publication. Thus, publications in health-related disciplines from 1992 to 1998 were considered, and publications up to 2001 were used to count related citations. This procedure allowed the identification of publications with `high visibility' (those having more citations than expected according to their field) and those with `low visibility' (i.e. less citations than expected). Research production by `visibility' level can, thus, be estimated, clustering countries according, for instance, to their income level (using World Bank classification) or to their geographical location (using WHO Regions).

Two findings are of particular interest given the theme of Forum 11: `Equitable Access: Research challenges for health in developing countries'. The first is that intra- regional collaboration is low and that large regional producers of research (i.e. Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea) collaborate more with high-income countries from other regions than among themselves or with smaller regional research producers. The region shows an `insular' collaboration pattern with several big centres of research with little connection between them. The second is that `visibility' of health research in the region is relatively low, even for high-income countries. High `visibility' research is mostly done with the involvement, through collaboration, of extra-region high-income countries. Collaboration between low- or middle-income countries is mostly in low `visibility' research.

Increasing visibility has several dimensions, including more equal research partnerships between different countries and institutions; increasing collaboration between low- and middle-income countries and access to the resulting research within the global scientific pool; developing alternative approaches to diffuse scientific findings that are judged of sufficient quality.