Kenya’s Research Excellence as Indexed in the Web of Science: An Informetrics’ Perspective
Research excellence (RE) is a relatively new concept which has been gaining traction among scholars, government agencies and funders. No universally accepted definition of RE exists. In this paper, however, it is perceived as the sustained conceptualisation, design, execution and dissemination of optimal volumes of high quality research products which contribute effectively to societal wellbeing. The concept of research excellence is just emerging in Kenya. Indeed, the literature reviewed in this paper reveals that the perception, measurement, and reporting of research excellence in Kenya is largely unknown. Therefore, this paper seeks to unravel these issues as a means of promoting research excellence in the country. The study anchoring this paper assessed the top papers produced in Kenya to gauge the country’s RE. Data were obtained from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science (WoS) Core Collection databases, the Essential Science Indicators and the Journal Citation Reports. Specifically, the paper explores the trend and volume of the highly cited and hot papers as the percentage share of Kenya’s total research publications; identifies the journals and assessed the quality of the journals in which Kenya’s highly cited and hot papers are published; examines the subject content and research field yielding the most highly cited and hot research papers in Kenya; determines the extent of research collaboration in the highly cited and hot papers; and benchmarks Kenya’s performance in the top papers against the rest of Africa. The study reveals an increase in the publication of the top papers, largely in the form of journal articles; a heavy co-authorship of the papers; a favourable performance by Kenya when compared to the rest of the African countries; and the publication of the country’s top papers in prestigious international journals. Kenya’s RE is partly dependent on the dissemination of its research in high impact factor journals. In addition, the country’s RE is heavily dependent on the performance of science fields such as internal medicine, environmental sciences and ecology, and public health and agriculture.