Academic Research in Ghana and Global Intellectual Discourse

As institutions of higher education, Ghanaian universities are expected to conduct empirical research to contribute to socioeconomic development of the country, as well as contribute to global scientific discourse. Notwithstanding the above, research has been granted scant attention in Ghana relative to teaching. Notably, some universities in Ghana do not have active research agenda and culture; a development, if not addressed, could lead to a complete demise of research needed to address the social, governance, and developmental issues affecting the country.
The near-neglect of research in sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, was acknowledged by the United Nations in its Sustainable Development Goals Report issued in 2016 which called for urgent and concerted effort to enhance research capabilities in the region.
Corroborating the above, data from SCImago (2017), a portal of journals and country scientific indicators contained in Scopus database, revealed that Africa recorded the least research output for the past 21 years (i.e., 1996 to 2016), relative to other continents. Research outputs are operationalized as papers published in accredited peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed books and book chapters, peer reviewed conference proceedings, as well as masters and doctoral dissertations. As depicted in figure 1, out of the 44, 702, 535 publications recorded for the 21-year period, less than 2% were produced from Africa.
A continental analysis (see Figure 2) revealed that South Africa, with 213, 998 publications, was the largest contributor to the research output recorded in Africa, followed by Egypt (157, 835 publications), Tunisia (67,698 publications), and Nigeria (67,008 publications). Ghana occupied the 9th position with 13,851 publications.
Further analysis revealed that the number of publications from Ghanaian researchers hovers around 200s per year from 1996 to 2006, 700s per year from 2007 to 2011, and 1,500 per year from 2012 to 2016 (Figure 3). The recent increase in the number of publications from Ghana is largely attributable to several factors, as discussed below:
1.     The recent decision by some universities (e.g., University of Ghana) to make publications in peer-reviewed journals a major requirement for promotion and tenure.
2.    The availability of funded projects or the generosity of donor or funding agencies and external institutions to support research projects in Ghana.
3.    The involvement of Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians abroad in research activities in Ghana.

It can also be observed in Figure 4 that a significant proportion of the research outputs were in the social sciences, arts and humanities, compared with STEM (i.e., Science, technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), although the STEM research is a major driver of socioeconomic growth, globally.

 

 

Figure 1 created by REGIG with data from SCImago (2017).

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: Computed by REGIG with data from SCImago (2017)

 

 

 

 

Figure 3: Created by REGIG using data from SCImago (2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 4: Computed by REGIG with data from SCImago (2017)

Note: STEM = Science, technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

 

 


The REGIG is an independent, not-for profit organization dedicated to promoting the generation, dissemination, and utilization of research to facilitate the socioeconomic development of Ghana and to contribute to global scientific discourse.

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