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Open Access Research article

Sri Lanka in global medical research: a scientific analysis of the Sri Lankan research output during 2000-2009

Priyanga Ranasinghe1*, Ranil Jayawardena12 and Prasad Katulanda1

Author Affiliations

1 Diabetes Research Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

2 School of Human Movement Studies, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:121  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-121

Published: 24 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Scientific research is an essential component in guiding improvements in health systems. There are no studies examining the Sri Lankan medical research output at international level. The present study evaluated the Sri Lankan research performance in medicine as reflected by the research publications output between years 2000-2009.

Methods

This study was based on Sri Lankan medical research publication data, retrieved from the SciVerse Scopus® from January 2000 to December 2009. The process of article selection was as follows: Affiliation - 'Sri Lanka' or 'Ceylon', Publication year - 'January 2000 to December 2009' and Subject area - 'Life and Health Sciences'. The articles identified were classified according to disease, medical speciality, institutions, major international collaborators, authors and journals.

Results

Sri Lanka's cumulative medical publications output between years 2000-2009 was 1,740 articles published in 160 different journals. The average annual publication growth rate was 9.1%. Majority of the articles were published in 'International' (n = 950, 54.6%) journals. Most articles were descriptive studies (n = 611, 35.1%), letters (n-345, 19.8%) and case reports (n = 311, 17.9%). The articles were authored by 148 different Sri Lankan authors from 146 different institutions. The three most prolific local institutions were Universities of; Colombo (n = 547), Kelaniya (n = 246) and Peradeniya (n = 222). Eighty four countries were found to have published collaborative papers with Sri Lankan authors during the last decade. UK was the largest collaborating partner (n = 263, 15.1%).

Malaria (n = 75), Diabetes Mellitus (n = 55), Dengue (n = 53), Accidental injuries (n = 42) and Lymphatic filariasis (n = 40) were the major diseases studied. The 1,740 publications were cited 9,708 times, with an average citation of 5.6 per paper. The most cited paper had 203 citations, while there were 597 publications with no citations. The Sri Lankan authors' contribution to the global medical research output during the last decade was only 0.086%.

Conclusion

The Sri Lankan medical research output during the last decade is only a small fraction of the global research output. There it is a necessity to setup an enabling environment for research, with a proper vision, support, funds and training. In addition, collaborations across the region need to be strengthened to face common regional health challenges.

Keywords:
Sri Lanka; Medical research; Publication; Analysis