A new analysis by Clarivate Analytics, based on the Web of science research database, published in a report titled “Scientific Research in East Africa: Key Trends and Observation”has indicated that Mekelle University is the most research effective organization in Ethiopia. This is despite the fact that Mekelle University still lags behind Addis Ababa, Jimma and Gonder Universities in terms of the number of publications.
However, Mekelle University’s research papers are by far the most cited ones, with a big gap in the citation metrics between Mekelle University and the next most cited University. This indicates that, while Mekelle University still has to do more to increasing the publication output, the publications that are being produced by its researchers are inspiring more other research, or are of high standard and may be controversial, as is reflected in the higher instant of citation.
This is most probably a result of the long time international research collaboration that Mekelle University is known for. As publications are produced by researchers from diverse and multi-national institutions, through collaborative international projects such as MU-IUC, NoRAD etc, they will have better readability and influence thereby, increasing their chances of being cited. Moreover, international collaboration enabled Mekelle University’s researchers to tap in to international laboratory and other resources, resulting in a better quality research than those that would be done only by local researchers. I also believe that through its recent endeavors to improve the quality of publications, Mekelle University was able to make its researchers favor internationally recognized and thus better read journals, thereby contributing to the improved citation metrics.
Higher readability and citation does not, however, show all sides of research productivity. Unless high quality research is produced in larger amounts, and that published technologies are implemented and used in positively influencing real lives, productivity may still be limited. This implies that Mekelle University needs to increase its research output, while maintaining the laudable level of quality of the research that is being undertaken. Moreoever, Mekelle University, as a matter of fact, all other universities, need to develop their own way of measurements and indices that evaluate how their researches are impacting actual lives. To do this Mekelle University needs to work harder and better in the following areas
- Increase the number of international research collaborations
- Improve the status and conditions of research laboratories and other facilities
- Undertake tailored capacity building trainings targeting the improvement of publication and numbers
- Creating incentives and obligations for increased high quality research and publications through higher standard requirements for promotion and other merits
- Developing and recording new ways of measuring actual impact of research in the lives of actual communities