Be a Global Collaborative Scholar: Lessons from Professor Oye Gureje

Be a Global Collaborative Scholar: Lessons from Professor Oye Gureje

Despite varied challenges facing academic researchers in Nigeria, several reports have indicated the researchers are not relenting in their efforts of joining global conversations on a number of issues affecting society. Available information indicates that Nigeria increased in article publications from 2,500 articles in 2008 to over 4,000 in 2017.

From the University of Ibadan, Professor Oye Gureje is one of the scholars who contributed significantly to this feat with his publications. His efforts paid off in 2019 when he was recognised as Nigeria’s most influential researcher in the world. For more than 10 months that our analyst tracked Professor Gureje, his names always come up with academic and popular articles. He has been referenced and still be cited by academic scholars and news media. According to information, Professor Guruje is the Director of World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health, Neurosciences, Drug and Alcohol Abuse situated in the University of Ibadan.

Communicating his research outputs to the individuals and policymakers across Africa, Professor Guruje says “In 2009, I convened a landmark meeting of Ministers of Health or their representatives from several African countries in Nigeria to deliberate on the process of scaling up mental health service in their countries.”

As stated earlier, in terms of publications, Professor Gureje has not slept off once in a year. Our check, using Google Scholar, shows that he has published 451 journal articles (excluding chapters in books, conference papers, technical reports and datasets)  between 1987 and 2020. Majority of these articles were as a result of collaborative efforts with local and international scholars. More than 9% of the articles were authored singlehanded.

His first most cited and ranked journal article, a collaborative effort, was published in 1997. The article titled ‘the validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care’ has been cited 3,262 times and ranked first out his 451 publications.  Between 1997 and 2010, his ten top ranked journal articles were published, according to Publish or Perish Tool. Three of the articles were published each in 2007 and 2008.

These articles were co-authored with a number of scholars in medicine, especially psychiatric field, and garnered 14, 462 citations from the starting year (1997) till this year. These ten publications have been cited 1, 022 times when the sum of per year citations is considered. On average, each of the ten articles has had 1,446 citations, while average citations within the per citation context is 102 times.

There is no doubt, Professor Gureje is making significant contributions to the academic community and some sections of the society where his knowledge and experience are needed the most. Meanwhile, this piece aims at evaluating his collaborative approach and present significant insights. Our expectation is that other scholars, especially those in sciences, medical and non-sciences would explore the insights towards being more productive in terms of publications.

The Place of Collaborative Advantage

Following some of his tactics as explicated in this piece will help established and upcoming academic scholars in overcoming some of the challenges associated with research collaboration in Nigeria and beyond. This is imperative as geographic distance and socioeconomic factors continue influencing how collaboration occurs and works among researchers across different countries. Like Professor Gureje, established and upcoming scholars need to understand that prioritizing scholars of related subject matter is key in having effective and productive collaboration.

This will become clearer as the article explicates Professor Gureje’s strategies and tactics. These strategies and tactics emerged from several months of studying him. From our analysis, we discovered that Professor Gureje is leveraging his social and academic capital for research collaboration. For instance, he has successfully explored some of his connections while heading or being a member of local and international organisations or committees.

Within the University environment, he has been able to have collaboration with his students and College/Faculty Members (colleagues). In line with this, our analyst notes that Professor Gureje is better described as a University Don, who has mastered SACAI Model (an approach that places university scholars in the midst of society for sustainable development).

This model is better understood from one of his publications we found and analysed. The article is titled “High-quality health systems in the Sustainable Development Goals era: time for a revolution” and co-authored with another 27 scholars. This article was published in Lancet Global Heath in 2018 and being cited by 449 scholars as at the time of writing this piece.  The article focuses on the quality of care available to people in Low- and middle-income countries across a range of health needs included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His collaborators are Faculty Members in various universities and personnel of institutes. A number of these co-authors have also authored and co-authored with other scholars with significant impact in terms of h-index, g-index, hl-norm and h-annual scores.

Margaret E. Kruk is Associate Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Anna Gage,  Catherine Arsenault, Hannah H Leslie, Sanam Roder-DeWan are  staff of the Harvard University. Olusoji Adeyi, Pierre Barker, Ezequiel García Elorrio, Svetlana Doubova, Frederico Guanais, Lisa R Hirschhorn, Lixin Jiang, Edward Kelley, Ephrem Tekle Lemango, Jerker Liljestrand, Address Malata, Tanya Marchant, Malebona Precious Matsoso, John G Meara, Manoj Mohanan, Youssoupha Ndiaye, Ole F Norheim, K Srinath Reddy, Alexander K Rowe, Joshua A Salomon, Gagan Thapa, Nana A Y Twum-Danso, Muhammad Pate and Bernadette Daelmans are also with local and international organisations.  Mike English is a UK trained pediatrician who has worked in Kenya for over 20 years supported by a series of Wellcome Trust fellowships. 

When one looks at these scholars’ years of publishing, it is obvious that the presence of Professor Gureje in their midst is a strategic one, a well thought out one. On average, including Professor Gureje, they have been publishing in the last 30 years with 136 publications and 7,408 citations. Our analysis further reveals that the average h-index, g-index, hl-norm and hl-annual of the scholars were 29, 65, 15 and 0.66 respectively.  Analysis indicates that they are more connected within the h-index and hl-norm (99.0%), g-index and hl-norm (97.7%), h-index and g-index (96.9%); h-annual (73.5%) than other impact contexts [hl-norm and h-annual=69.7%; h-index and h-annual=65.6%].

Examination of the impact factors along with the years of publications shows that one year of publishing increases their h-index score by 19.1%, g-index score by 12.8%, hl-norm index score by 15.2%. Analysis further reveals that the scores for h-annual index is increasing at a speed greater than their years of publications. Our analyst specifically found more than 39% increase in their h-annual index when they published over 5 articles. Analysis also reveals that one publication increases their citations by 73.6%.

Exhibit 1: Years of Publications

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 2: Number of Publications (Excluding Chapters in Books, Conference Proceedings, Data and Technical Reports)

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 3: Citations Per Author

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 4: H-index and Year of Publications

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

These results have many implications. It is clear that the scholars a significant number of them are within good (20 score), outstanding (40 score) and exceptional (60 score) thresholds of h-index expected of scholars who have published for 20 years. Based on this and the score recorded for other indexes, our analyst observes that their productivity and impact have been significant within academic globally with the possibility of one of them being ‘Oliver Lowery’ who have an article that has accumulated citations in hundreds of thousands.

To the Nigerian academics, the top place occupied [see Exhibit 5 and 6] by Professor Gureje among these scholars is an indication collaboration beyond the Nigerian environment has the propensity of increasing visibility and global presence without necessarily spending economic capital. This insight becomes more useful when one looks at the extent to which Professor Gureje is centered and connected with these scholars [see Exhibit 7].

Exhibit 5: Dominant Authors based on Composite Impact Index

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 6: Severity of Composite Impact Index

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 7: Gureje’s Centrality to and Connectivity with Others

Source: Google Scholar, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Contributing Factors for Higher H-Index and G-Index

To truly be ‘Professor Gureje’, established and upcoming scholars need to strengthen their social and academic capital beyond Nigeria. The strengthening should not be limited to academic environment alone. Industries should also be considered. This is essential considering the interest of some professionals in writing academic articles in preparation for a career change or continue theoretical understanding of their industries.

Apart from these, scholars also need to be media-friendly. There should be constant engagement with the media when an article is published. Significant results and lessons for the beneficiaries need to be shared. The only means of letting the public know is to speak with the media or writing a news worth policy brief.  This increases visibility and the chance of being cited.

Since subject area can have an impact on the H-index, it is necessary to always consider trending issues or topics. According to a number of sources, publishing with a focus on trending issues increases h-index score than focusing on issues that occurred in the last few years.  As explicated by the examined scholars, it is glaring that co-publishing can increase h-index. This should be embraced at lease twice a year. Focus should be more about publishing articles in open access journals than closed ones that require payment before people can access the articles. Like being media-friendly, this has also been suggested as means of making research outputs available to the public and increases chance of being cited.

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