Can informetrics shape biomedical research? A case study of the HIV/AIDS research in sub-Saharan Africa1
Biomedical research is burgeoning as new dangerous diseases and healing methods emerge. Informetrics defined as methods or a research field that uses mathematical and statistical techniques and/or models to examine patterns that show up not only in publications but also in many aspects of life, as long as the patterns deal with information, are widely applied in the evaluation of research performance, among others. Informetrics measures can be divided into descriptive and evaluative measures, commonly referred to as production (publications) count and citation analysis respectively. Whereas the former has continued to gain popularity in sub-Saharan Africa, especially with regard to the assessment of research output of researchers, the latter is rarely applied. The paper focuses on the research evaluation, methods of research evaluation, and the pros and cons of using informetrics techniques to evaluate research performance. Further, the paper addresses the application of informetrics to examine whether or not informetrics can be used to shape biomedical research, with special reference to HIV/AIDS research in sub-Saharan Africa. In that regard, the paper reports on an informetrics perspective of the relatedness of opportunistic diseases and other factors (i.e. risk factors, pre-disposing factors, other sexually transmitted diseases, and the other tropical diseases) to:
• Demonstrate the use of informetrics techniques in assessing the relatedness of a disease to the pathogens that are associated with it.
• Reveal that informetrics can be used to support and/or inform medical opinions regarding the relationship/influence of certain
factors/diseases with/on a given disease, e.g. HIV/AIDS.
This paper concludes that the application of informetrics, using various techniques or methodologies associated with it, to shape research in different fields/disciplines, is feasible.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Informetrics, Bibliometrics, Research evaluation