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“Publish or perish” is good for African research

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 14 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i121
  1. Musa Abubakar Kana, doctor in epidemiology and public health, Department of Community Medicine, Kaduna State University, Nigeria; Epidemiology Research Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Portugal
  1. musakana77{at}

Cost effective incentives to encourage publication in top journals would help African science achieve its potential

“Salami” publication, least publishable units, fraud, plagiarism, honorary or gift authorship, fabricated peer reviews, article retractions, and predatory journals. These are some of the perverse effects of “publish or perish”—that is, the often criticised systems that reward researchers for maximising publication in top journals.1 2 3 4 5 Data on the risk and benefit associated with “publish or perish” are sparse; however, such incentives to publish could boost research productivity in Africa at little extra cost.5 6 7 8 9

Developing countries, particularly those in Africa, produce fewer publications than they could.10 11 12 In fact, only 12% of all scientific and technical publications registered by the Science Citation Index are by authors with affiliation indicating a developing country address—despite 80% of the world’s population and 28% of its scientists living in these nations.10

Nevertheless, the Scopus database of the peer …

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