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Poor nations are falling ever further behind developed countries in the publication of their research results, according to an analysis of the number of scientific papers published by individuals of different nations.

Drawing on an analysis of 4.2 million papers published in biomedical journals from 1989 to 2001, a group of German-based researchers write in a letter to this week's Science that developed countries publish 10 times more papers per inhabitant than developing nations.

Furthermore this disparity is increasing over time, they say, implying that "the gap between scientifically active countries and the rest is apparently widening rather than closing".

Carolina Perez-Iratxeta, who currently works at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg and colleagues analysed the MEDLINE database of biomedical journal articles to gauge scientific activity in different parts of the world.

They argue that "projects that train scientists from developing countries and help create research groups in those countries must be promoted," adding that "the global scientific community cannot afford to waste the intellectual capacity of developing countries".

© SciDev.Net 2002

Link to letter in Science
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