Production vs. GNI for African Countries

As varied as the countries in the Eurozone, Africa has many tales to tell, and a bubble plot does a good job telling some of them.

South Africa dominates African science, plodding slowly and predictably upwards in terms of scientific articles published and the growth of its economy.

Like China, S. Korea, and Brazil, however, there are a few recent entrants in Africa that are experiencing extremely high growth in scientific output, yet they tell very different stories.

Three members of North Africa — Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco — are growing steadily like South Africa in terms of their economies and scientific output. For Tunisia, broader academic freedoms for scientists are expected as a result of the recent overthrow of its autocratic president. In contrast, Nigeria‘s trajectory tells a different story.

Being rich in resources doesn’t always translate into building a better life for one’s citizens, and it can often make it worse. Oil-rich Nigeria, for example, has been the victim of years of political instability, corruption, and inadequate infrastructure.   In their study, Global Research Report: Africa,” Jonathan Adams, Christopher King and Daniel Hook write:

It is clear, however, that despite Nigeria’s high volume output it is not returning as much research as would be expected given the size of its economy. . . . This is an area where Africa is not yet benefiting from the best use of its own natural resources.

If your browser supports Adobe Flash, watch the animation, play with the controls and see for yourself. There is no one scientific tale of Africa.

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Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph.D. in science communication from Cornell University (2010), extensive experience as a science librarian (1995-2006) and was trained as a life scientist.


5 Thoughts on "Research in Africa: A Tale of Many Countries Told in Bubbles"

Given Nigeria’s vertical trajectory I would say they are dong quite well. Their article per per-capita-GNP ratio is much higher than the three growing N. African countries. Maybe it is time to stop pitying Nigeria, and start respecting it instead.

The tiny bubbles with massive GNP growth and no scientific growth are also interesting. Maybe they need some universities.

Love the bubbles, Phil. Are you opening a studio?

Thanks David. My recent fascination with bubble graphs comes from a need to describe a large publication-citation study to a group that does not understand regression analysis.

Count me in that group, unless you have a group that does not like regression analysis. Anyway I am up to my nose in scientific animations at the moment. My team is trying first to estimate how many on-line anis the DOE Labs have, with a present estimate of 10,000 to 20,000. Next step is how to find and index them, given they have no searchable text, then how to assign our learning levels to these anis. I intend to promote your bubbles to this community, so as to give them something when I bother them.

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