Thursday, January 21, 2021 | ePaper

Ensure quality research, quantity just tells the number for complacence

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BANGLADESHI researchers published more than 8,000 scholarly articles in international journals with impact factor in 2020 - which is third in terms of the number among South Asian countries. An online magazine, Scientific Bangladesh, published the annual report on scientific documents of the country on January 2, analyzing the data of Scopus, a citation database of peer-reviewed literature including scientific journals, books and conference proceedings.
The impact factor, also known as Journal Impact Factor (JIF), is a metric used to evaluate the relative importance of a journal. According to the report, the scholars of the country published 8,140 articles and other documents in 160 peer-reviewed and impact factor journals. The number was 6,363 in 2019, while it was 5,234 in 2018.
However, in 2020, Indian and Pakistani researchers published 199,261 and 28,612 documents respectively, which is far more than Bangladesh. Most of the publications by Bangladeshi researchers were in English (8,135). There are few publications in Chinese (4), French (2), Spanish (2) and Malay (1).
The top three subject areas of publications are Medicine (2,173), Engineering (1,824), and Computer Science (1,581).Medicine has surpassed engineering as the top subject in this regard due to an increase in Covid-19 related publications.
Of course it's not the quantity of research which is important but the quality. A good example to look at is the former USSR which had more researchers per million people than the US but still could not keep up with Western technological advances. As the saying goes a dogs litter contains many puppies but a lioness gives birth usually to just one lion.
We have to ensure that our research is world class--- never mind the metrics. Keeping the quality of research at the top levels is much more important than just publishing in international journals. What we really need to do is to invest in cutting edge research like materials technology and other related technology if we really want to be able to produce world class production materials. Calculating what research we have published worldwide is not substitute to what we can really achieve.

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