The 57 member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have approved the creation of an Islamic Citation Centre (ISC) to be based in Iran.
The plan was announced at the Fourth Islamic Conference of the Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research, held in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week (6–8 October).
The ISC will manage a Science Citation Index similar to that of Thomson Scientific, which will analyse research performance in Islamic countries with the aim of improving research output and impact.
The index will rank Islamic countries' scientific publications, introduce quantitative and qualitative measures for journals, and produce analytical reports on the status of universities, research institutions and technology centres by looking at their research productivity, impact and excellence.
Besides laying the ground for promoting scientometrics — the measurement and analysis of scientific activity — in Islamic countries, the ISC aims to promote cooperation among Islamic scientists and science and technology centres by proposing suitable instruments and mechanisms needed to make scientific information available.
The ISC will be funded by the Iranian government, established by Iran's ministry of science, research and technology (MSRT), and managed by an executive committee headed by MSRT, which will include the deputy ministers for scientific research from all OIC members and the director of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) regional office in Tehran, Iran.
Tarek Saif, a researcher at Egypt's National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries told SciDev.Net, "ISC will contribute in building science capacity in the Islamic world through increasing the quantity and quality of science journals."
Mamadou Goita, special advisor to the director-general of the Mali-based Rural Economy Institute says, "ISC is one step in the right direction for assessing science and technology on the ground to get the real picture. International science citation systems might be misleading as most scientific publications generated from OIC countries are rarely represented in these systems."
He adds, "ISC will also help science policymakers in assessing the national and regional return for research and development investment by measuring key research performance indicators such as number of publications and patents per researcher, as well as number of publications and patents relative to GDP and amount of money spent on R&D."
The centre is expected to be up and running in 2009, with its final development and operations to be decided on in a meeting in Tehran in December.