Bangladeshi researchers published more than 8,000 scholarly articles in international journals with impact factor last year – which is third in terms of the number among South Asian countries.
An online magazine, Scientific Bangladesh, published the annual report on scientific documents of the country analysing the data of Scopus, a citation database of peer-reviewed literature including scientific journals, books and conference proceedings.
According to the report, the scholars of the country published 8,140 articles and other documents in 160 peer-reviewed and impact factor journals. In the previous year, the number was 6,363.
In 2018, Bangladeshi researchers published 5,234 documents.
However, in 2020, Indian and Pakistani researchers published more than 199,000 and 28,000 documents respectively, which is far more than Bangladesh.
Among the other documents that were counted in the report are: conference papers, reviews, book chapters, letters, errata, notes, editorials, data papers, books, short surveys, and others.
The impact factor, also known as Journal Impact Factor (JIF), is a metric used to evaluate the relative importance of a journal.
It is determined by calculating an average number of citations received by the selected articles in that journal within the last few years.
For example, if the impact factor of a journal is three, that means all the articles of this journal were used or cited an average of three times as a reference in a particular year.
The top eight journals which published the highest number of articles by Bangladeshi researchers are: Plos One, Scientific Reports, Heliyon, IEEE Access, BMJ Open, Results in Physics, Environmental Science, and Pollution Research.
Among all impact factor journals, four were from Bangladesh.
According to Resurchify, an information portal, the impact factor of the Bangladesh Journal of Botany is 0.15.
Additionally, the impact factor of the Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin is 0.09, of the Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science is 0.17 and of the Journal of Medicine Bangladesh is 0.10.
According to the Scopus database, the top three subject areas of publication for Bangladeshis are medicine (2,173), engineering (1,824) and computer science (1581).
Medicine has surpassed engineering as the top subject in this regard due to an increase in Covid-19 related publications.
Among the institutions of the country, both university and research organisations, Dhaka University (DU) has retained the top position with 760 – which is 100 more than last year. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) retained second position with 510 publications – over 100 less than in 2019.
Buet held first position in 2017 and 2018.
Rajshahi University is in third position with 465 publications while it was fourth in the previous year.
Jahangirnagar University has secured fourth position with 437 publications while it was fifth in 2019 with 250 publications.
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (Icddr,b) is in fifth position with 418 documents while it was third in 2019.
The rest of the institutions are: the Bangladesh Agricultural University, North South University, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Khulna University, and Daffodil International University.
Dr Monir Uddin Ahmed, founder and executive editor of Scientific Bangladesh, said, "Though publications are increasing in small numbers, this is far from enough for the scientific advancement of the country. In comparison to India and Pakistan, our publications are very few with only one patent while India got 276 patents last year."
"Moreover, the majority of the publications are from non-resident Bangladeshi [NRB] researchers. Research funding also mostly comes from foreign funding bodies. This means that our own research organisations are not publishing enough documents. The result reflects that more and more Bangladeshi are going abroad for research purposes," he added.
Top Bangladeshi researcher with one patent
According to the Scopus database, Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, acting executive director of Icddr,b secured first position with 65 articles last year.
He has been working for the last three decades on simplifying the management of childhood malnutrition, childhood tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases.
He and his team at Icddr,b worked extensively with Professor Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, United States to find out ways and means of increasing the presence of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine of children suffering from acute malnutrition.
This has led to the discovery of a novel intervention called Microbiota Directed Complementary Food (MDCF). This novel intervention was adjudged by the world-famous journal Science to be a scientific breakthrough of 2019.
"This can be a game changer in the fight against childhood malnutrition. We have got the patent of the work in 2020 from the World Intellectual Property Organization," said Dr Tahmeed.
Meanwhile, Kawsar Ahmed, a teacher of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University and Md Sahab Uddin, executive director of Pharmakon Neuroscience Research Network, jointly secured second position with 55 articles, according to the data available.