A bibliometric study of the publication patterns in the sciences of South African scholars 1981-96

Daisy Jacobs*, Peter Ingwersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The paper is a bibliometric study of the publication patterns and impact of South African scientists 1981-96, with special emphasis on the period 1992-96. The subject fields surveyed are Physics; Chemistry, Plant and Animal Sciences; and Biochemistry/Microbiology. Scientists were selected from the ten universities of (he Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal, which vary considerably, with respect to standards of education, quantity of publications, development and overall progress The general purpose is two-fold: 1) to observe the publication and citation trends during 1981-96, a period which covers significant policy changes in the country, in particular the end of apartheid 1994; within this context 2) to investigate the patterns used by scientists 1992-96 from these different institutions in publishing the results of their research in the form of conference papers or (international journals. The study collected two sets of data through a scientometric analysis of Science Citation Index and a questionnaire. With the exception of Physics, the results demonstrate a decreasing South African world share, in particular for Plant & Animal Sc. publications, and a similar decline of citations starting in 1986/87. Further, the citation impact relative to the world, after a substantial drop 1985-93 probably representing the international embargo period, in 1994-96 reaches the same level as observed in 1985-89, Also, the study shows that (here is a direct relation between academic position, research experience and productivity among South African Scientists in the four scientific disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)75-93
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


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