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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-8

Review of publication productivity of medicine and pharmacy schools in four Arab Universities


Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, Taif University, Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication29-May-2013

Correspondence Address:
Ibrahim A Maghrabi
Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, Taif University, Taif
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2278-0521.112623

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  Abstract 

Context: The publication productivity of colleges of medicine and pharmacy in four Arab universities, namely King Saud University, Assiut University, University of Khartoum and University of Jordan located in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan, respectively, was compared. Aims: To determine colleges' publication contribution relative to their universities and countries in the period 2005-2010. Materials and Methods: The Web of Science bibliographic database was used to determine article publications as well as US patent office and EPO websites were also used to determine the number of international patents. Settings and Design: Publication productivity was analyzed and rankings were constructed based on the number of publications and average number per population or staff members for countries, universities and colleges. The Web of Science bibliographic database for number of published articles and US patent office and EPO websites for number of international patents were used. A one-way analysis of variance was used to describe statistical significance when probability value (P) was less than 0.05. Results: Publication productivity was analyzed and rankings were constructed based on the number of publications and average number per population or staff members for countries, universities and colleges. Colleges of medicine and pharmacy have a contribution of about 25% of the overall university publications for almost all universities. Generally, colleges of medicine had higher percent share than colleges of pharmacy in university publications, with one exception in college of pharmacy in University of Jordan. Conclusion: In general, many universities and colleges of medicine and pharmacy have been established, which could explain the increase in scientific published work in the four Arab countries in the last two decades. However, upon performing a ranking many individual variations were observed depending on the methods used for evaluation.

Keywords: Arab Universities, publication productivity, schools of medicine and pharmacy


How to cite this article:
Maghrabi IA. Review of publication productivity of medicine and pharmacy schools in four Arab Universities. Saudi J Health Sci 2013;2:1-8

How to cite this URL:
Maghrabi IA. Review of publication productivity of medicine and pharmacy schools in four Arab Universities. Saudi J Health Sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 May 23];2:1-8. Available from: https://www.saudijhealthsci.org/text.asp?2013/2/1/1/112623


  Introduction Top


The last 20 years have been a period of considerable growth in the number of universities and health science schools especially colleges of medicine and pharmacy in the Arab world. The transition from the entry-level of a two-year diploma into the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree is now completed in many Arab countries. New schools of medicine and pharmacy have been established and student enrollment in such schools and colleges has increased tremendously. All of these factors have dramatically increased the number of medicine and pharmacy faculty members employed at these colleges and schools, as well as their scientific outcomes in the form of published articles and patents. [1]

Several attempts have been made to evaluate the current state of scientific publication productivity or scholarship in medical schools in the Arab region. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6] However, a thorough evaluation of the medical and pharmacy schools in the light of overall country publication has not been described fully. In this study, four neighboring Arab countries were selected and analyzed in order to get a clear picture about the scientific publication productivity and scholarship at the level of country, university and even on an average college member.

Arab countries may differ tremendously in their economical, political and population density aspects. Four Arab countries having different internal conditions were selected, that is, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan. Although these neighboring countries are present in a close geographic region, their political, economical and population densities are much different.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the smallest country of the four with a total population of just over 6 million. Jordan, unlike many of the Arab countries in the region, has no oil of its own and is considered a developing country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources. However, Jordan is a Middle East country with a relatively high degree of security and political stability. Jordan has been classified as a country of "high human development" by the 2010 Human Development Report. [7],[8],[9] By contrast, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a population of approximately 27 million. Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world and ranks as the largest exporter, [10],[11] whereas Egypt is the largest country reviewed in terms of geographic area, number of population (around 81 million) and number of colleges of pharmacy. [1],[12] Sudan is rich in natural resources such as petroleum. [13]

The aim of this study is to do a comparative study and test specific parameters in order to get an indication about the status of colleges of medicine and pharmacy in an Arab country, and to determine the colleges' contribution in the scientific production in their own territories and in comparison with other neighboring Arab countries. This could give a clue about the progress at a certain time interval for each university and could help decision makers in such universities to be informed about their publication status.


  Materials and Methods Top


Selection of universities

The number of universities established during every 10-year interval in the four Arab countries was obtained from the university websites in each country; sub-university colleges or military academic institutions were excluded. Similarly, information on the establishment of colleges of medicine and colleges of pharmacy was gathered for every 10-year time interval. In order to conduct a survey regarding universities' publication, one well-known university was selected to indicate the universities' situation. The selection criteria included selecting a university with a respectable history. The selected universities should have been established within more or less the same time period. All selected universities should have had colleges of medicine and pharmacy. The four selected universities were King Saud University (KSU) established in 1957, Assiut University (AU) in 1957, University of Khartoum (UK) in 1956 and University of Jordan (UJ) in 1962. These universities were used as model universities and representing Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan universities, respectively.

Gathering information

The Web of Science bibliographic database (The Thomson Corporation; www.thomsonisi.com) was used to identify the number of publication citations for the years starting from 2005 to 2010, which were then evaluated in a number of different ways.

All searches were conducted in the same time period within 2 days in November 2011 to minimize the existence of any inaccuracy during information gathering. The Web of Science's "Science Citation Index Expanded" indexes all significant document types (original research, reviews, editorials, letters, etc.). The database search included use of SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A and HCI, CPCI-S, CPCI-SSH; the time span used for search was "2005-2010" and lemmatization was left "On". For evaluation of colleges of pharmacy and medicine, the "advanced search" page was used. This page allows the creation of complex queries using two-character field tags and multiple query combinations. The initial query was limited to years 2005 to 2010 and used the two-character field tag "AD" (searches only the address field within a record) and included each university name combined with the Boolean operator "SAME" and the name of the college. Names of colleges were found to be not similar; the same college had sometimes been given different names by authors. Authors might describe their college as college of medicine or faculty of medicine or school of medicine. Thus, search was carried out for all options and a summation of all records was carried out before analysis. The same process was carried out for colleges of pharmacy for each university. Determination of the number of shared publications between each two Arab countries was also carried out. The two-character field tag "Cu" included each country name combined with the Boolean operator "AND" and the other country name based on a country search option (Cu). This was carried out between each two Arab countries and every Arab country and USA. USA was taken as a reference country to indicate the international collaborations in research for each Arab country.

The European patent office, EPO Patent search was based on the espacenet site: http://gb.espacenet.com/search97cgi/s97_cgi.exe?Action = FormGen and Template = gb/en/advanced.hts.

Publications (worldwide patents) per country were determined using advanced search at EPO; applicant = (country abbreviation) or in the applicant field using the name of university between two quotations until November 2011.

For US patents, the USPTO patent full-text and image database, was used; AppFT: Applications published since March 2001; website: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.htm. Assignee country "ACN/country name abbreviation" taken from the country code table published by the USPTO or assignee name AN/name of the university was used for determination of patents published in USA per country and per each university, respectively, until November 2011.

In order to do a proper comparison between different countries, universities, colleges of medicine and pharmacy, normalization of results was carried out in which population per country, academic staff per each university and each faculty staff per each college were taken into consideration. Data were obtained from the official websites of the universities and colleges. The number of academic staff in a university or college used for this analysis did not include academic part timers, technicians and other non-academic staff.

Building up relationships was based on the number of publications and either university size or percentage of university to country publications or college to university publications.

One-way analysis of variance was used to describe statistical significance when probability value (P) was less than 0.05, using via Excel 2003 (Microsoft Corporation).


  Results Top


General trend

Statistics for academic ranking of four Arab countries were carried out in November 2011 based on the number of universities and number of colleges of medicine and pharmacy. Different ranking methods were applied as shown in [Table 1]. The ranking could be used based on the total number of institutions per country or it could be normalized based on the number of population. Plenty of universities and colleges of medicine and pharmacy were established in the past two decades, which indicates a general trend of increase in the four Arab countries, suggesting that people in these countries are becoming more interested in higher education, specifically in studying medicine or pharmacy, as shown in [Figure 1]. Interestingly, based on the ratio of number of colleges of medicine to those of pharmacy, a high ratio was found for Sudan (2.67) and Saudi Arabia (1.22). This indicates that the two counties have more colleges of medicine when compared with colleges of pharmacy, whereas Egypt and Jordan have more colleges of pharmacy than colleges of medicine, with a ratio of 0.74 and 0.36, respectively. This could be explained based on either governmental orientation or simply due to the less tight regulations for the establishment of pharmacy colleges in comparison with those for medicine in such countries. The number of universities and colleges of medicine and pharmacy were normalized per 1-million population size in order to evaluate country development more properly. Although Egypt has the highest number of universities in comparison with the others, but after doing normalization based on the number of population, it showed the least. It is obvious that Jordan has the highest number after normalization in terms of number of universities and colleges of pharmacy. This could be explained based on the limited natural resources of the country, where the government and people try to investment in education and human resources. However, in order to alleviate the emergence of unemployment problems in the future due the excess number of pharmacy graduates, it could be more beneficial to adopt variable pharmacy programs such as clinical pharmacy and industrial pharmacy programs.
Figure 1: (a) Number of universities established every 10-year time interval and (b) total number of colleges of medicine and pharmacy established every 10-year time interval for the four Arab countries Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan

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Table 1: Statistics for academic status of four Arab countries evaluated in November 2011

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University publications

Publications in the form of scientific articles are the basic data that are always used for evaluation of scientific contribution and hence ranking of authors or universities or countries. Ranking based on one method or another is not absolute, instead it measures a certain aspect each time. Different counting or analysis methods should be used and compared in order to observe the change in ranking per each type of analysis and to arrive at proper conclusions. [14]

The universities' publications were analyzed based on the number of articles and patents published in the period 2005-2010 as summarized in [Table 2]. Country, university and college rankings (ranking of publications in journals as included in the Web of Science via authors' address) by both total number of publications and the average number of publications per number of members are provided in [Table 2]. King Saud University in Saudi Arabia had the highest number of publications in comparison with other universities, followed by Assiut University and University of Jordan, whereas the lowest number was for University of Khartoum. [Figure 2] shows the trend of publication with time, where an increase in the number of publications with time for all four universities within the time period 2005-2010 was observed. Colleges of medicine and pharmacy for King Saud University showed an exponential increase in number of publications. Other colleges showed a linear increase trend, with the exception of colleges of pharmacy in Assiut and Khartoum universities. Another important parameter, H-index, which can measure both scholarship and impact of university publications, was determined as shown in [Table 2]. King Saud University and its colleges of medicine and pharmacy had the highest H-index.
Figure 2: (a) Number of publication for each university, (b) colleges of medicine, and (c) colleges of pharmacy during the time period 2005-2010 for King Saud University, Assiut University, University of Khartoum and University of Jordan

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Table 2: Publication statistics of four Arabic Universities in the period 2005-2010 (Web of Science)

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In order to observe university publication in light of their country status, country publications and normalized country publications per 1-million population size were determined at the same time period (2005-2010) as shown in [Figure 3]. Egypt showed the highest number of publications before normalization, whereas after normalization Jordan became the country with the highest number of publication per 1-million population size. This coincides with the previous finding for the number of universities before and after normalization per 1-million population size for the two countries.
Figure 3: (a) Number of overall country publications and (b) number of publications per 1-million population in the time period 2005-2010 for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan

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The percent share of each university in its country publications in the period 2005-2010 and the percent share of colleges of medicine and pharmacy in the total university publication were determined as depicted in [Figure 4]. University of Khartoum had the highest share in publication in Sudan. Then the order was as follows: King Saud University > University of Jordan > Assiut University. Although these universities were established in the same time period, the universities did not have the same share in their country progress in publications. On the other hand, colleges of medicine and pharmacy had a contribution on average around 25% of the overall university publications for almost all universities. Colleges of medicine were having a higher percent share than colleges of pharmacy in university publications; however, this was not the case for University of Jordan where the situation was reversed. Generally, this indicates that the colleges of medicine and pharmacy in all four Arab countries are most likely having the same progress within their internal university environment.
Figure 4: (a) Percent contribution of each university in their country publications and (b) percent contribution of each college of medicine and pharmacy in the total university publications in the time period 2005-2010

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One important criterion, which could widen the base of each scientist in publications, is through collaborating with other international researchers. In this study international co-authorship collaboration has been analyzed as shown in [Figure 5].
Figure 5: Percent co-authorship of each of the four Arab countries with each other and with USA. USA was taken as a reference country for international collaborations in scientific publications

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Co-authorship collaboration between the four Arab countries was determined and compared with collaborations with USA, where USA was selected as a reference country for international collaborations. It seems there is strong joint research collaboration between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which would be relatively higher than that with USA. However, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have relatively weak co-authorship collaboration in publication with Jordan and Sudan. Sudan has a systematic and reasonable percent share with other Arab countries. On the contrary, Jordan has a relatively low percent in shared publications with Arab neighbors in comparison with international publications shared with USA. This could indirectly indicate the weak co-authorship publications at university and college levels.

Another important type of publications is through patents. Patents are a useful measurement tool since they are strongly correlated with research and development (R and D). It was noticed that countries with high levels of R and D tend to have more patents. Patent applications not only measure the level of R and D, but also can indicate the level of innovative activity. Use of patent data enables the study and assessment of different features of innovative environment. [15],[16] The number of US patent applications and EPO (worldwide) patents were determined for each country and each of the selected universities as shown in [Table 2] and [Figure 6]. The ranking based on the number of patents was as follows: King Saud University > University of Jordan > Assiut University > University of Khartoum, which was similar to the order for whole-country patents per 1-million population size, that is, Saudi Arabia > Jordan > Egypt > Sudan. However, it was obvious that the number of international patents is relatively very small for both universities and countries. Furthermore, the percent contribution of each university in their country publications of the international patents (US patent applications and EPO patents) was very small, that is, <5% for all investigated universities as shown in [Figure 7]. This may imply that either the universities did not contribute well in their country's R and D or their share may be through locally registered patents. Obviously, this conclusion is also reflected to the college of medicine and pharmacy in each university.
Figure 6: (a) Number of patents published before normalization as EPO (worldwide) and (b) US patents in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan, and after normalization as number of patents per 1-million population

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Figure 7: Percent contribution of each university to international patents (EPO patents and US patent applications) in their countries

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  Discussion Top


Different ranking orders were obtained when ranking countries or universities or colleges based on their actual numbers of publications or the number of publications per number of population or staff members. Small-sized countries or universities or colleges may be observed to contribute more or less to scholarship than larger sized ones upon doing normalization. This is directly related to the efficiency of the producers of scholarship in a certain country or university or college irrespective of size. However, it is not easy to conclude whether to adopt a ranking based on the actual number of publication or after doing normalization based on size since every method has its own merits.

It is worth mentioning that this analysis has certain limitations that should be appreciated before decisions are adopted. The analysis was based on number of publications based on Web of Science without taking into consideration the type of publication, that is, whether the publications were original research articles or review articles or even communication letters. Thus, some institutions that ranked higher or lower than another with regard to total publications might have a larger or smaller number of a certain type of publication, which cannot be determined based on this analysis. In addition, only Web of Science journals were included and any journal, which is not included in the database of Web of Science, did not reflect in the rankings. Furthermore, this evaluation did not include other forms of scholarship such as book chapters or monographs. In spite of these limitations, this evaluation still has the merit, as long as it is not used as a sole indicator, to determine the university or college level of scholar productivity. These results could be affected by cognitive, social, historical, geopolitical and economic factors, which are potential determinants for such type finding. [17]

This comparative study in this specified time period can serve as a standard scale so that future evaluations can be conducted and compared to this time period to observe progress in scholarship. Also, this study could guide decision makers at all levels to take corrective actions in developing their institutions.

The same limitations are also applicable to the patent search, which did not include locally registered patents or patents published at the country level. In addition, the EPO patents obtained were not exact numbers, instead they were approximations. However, the purpose of this search is to make comparison between different countries and institutions irrespective of the exact numbers.


  Conclusion Top


The scientific wealth of publications is considered useful data and is usually used to determine country, university and college ranking.

In general, many universities and colleges of medicine and pharmacy have been established in the last two decades in different Arab countries, which could explain the increase in scientific published work. However, there were some individual variations found upon doing a comparative study between different countries, universities and colleges based on total number of publications or publication per number of population or per staff members, which led to different ranking. However, it can be concluded that increase in the number of staff members and quality of staff members hired are important factors, and are strongly related to scholarship of a certain university or college; country internal conditions as well have an important impact on scholarship at all levels within a country. University academic scientists the four Arab countries would have to pay more attention and focus on their country's R and D to develop more international patents.


  Acknowledgment Top


I would like to express my thanks to all those who made it possible to complete this manuscript, especially Dr. Mayyas Al-Remawi.

 
  References Top

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    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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Annals of Saudi Medicine. 2020; 40(2): 147
[Pubmed] | [DOI]



 

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