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West Africa dominates papers sent to Scientific African journal

The first 500 submissions to Scientific African, a new continental science journal, were dominated by West African papers and papers on agriculture.

The Rwanda-based Next Einstein Forum, which publishes the journal, released data on the first 505 submissions on 19 February, showing that more than a quarter of the papers have corresponding authors in Nigeria.

Ghana comes next, followed by Ethiopia and Kenya. China and India appear in fifth and sixth places, ahead of Cameroon, South Africa, Tanzania and Egypt. Together, those ten countries provide more than three-quarters of submitted papers’ corresponding authors.

The first issue of Scientific African was published late last year. The open-access journal welcomes submissions in all scientific disciplines. While many articles have multi-country authorship, the corresponding author is usually one of the leading authors on the paper.

The data reveal disciplinary trends, too. Of the first 505 submissions, more than 110 dealt with agriculture and food security. Around 70 were on health and life sciences, and 60 in environmental and geosciences. This is not surprising, NEF said, given that these disciplines are popular in Africa.

In contrast, fewer than 20 submissions were received on mathematics, even though this is the disciplinary focus of NEF’s parent organisation, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

‘Quite happy’ with spread of submissions

Benji Gyampoh, the journal’s editor-in-chief, told Research Africa that he was “quite happy” with the geographical and disciplinary distribution of submissions to date.

“The geographical distribution covers about two-thirds of the African continent. This is remarkable and to me is an indication of growing acceptance by scientists in Africa for Scientific African,” he says.

However, he wants to see more submissions in physical sciences, and also interdisciplinary work that includes social sciences: “Of particular interest to me is to see work coming out of close engagement of the natural and physical sciences and the social sciences. How to make science work in the society is important.”

Researchers can maximise their chances of their papers being accepted by ensuring that their work is methodologically rigorous and that results are interpreted correctly, Gyampoh says.

But real-world relevance also plays a part, he adds: “A key tip for getting published […] is to demonstrate how the work can be applied to help address identified challenges of the continent and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Disclaimer: Linda Nordling wrote and edited articles for the first issue of Scientific African Magazine, an e-publication supported by the NEF to raise the public profile of African science and the Scientific African journal.