Background: The objective of this study was to estimate the research productivity of different world regions in the field of Parasitology.
Methods: Using the PubMed database we retrieved articles from journals included in the "Parasitology" category of the "Journal Citation Reports" database of the Institute for Scientific Information for the period 1995-2003. Research productivity was evaluated based on a methodology we developed and used in other bibliometric studies by analysing: (1) the total number of publications, (2) the mean impact factor of all papers, and (3) the product of the above two parameters, (4) the research productivity in relation to gross domestic product of each region, and (5) the research productivity in relation to gross national income per capita and population of each region.
Results: Data on the country of origin of the research was available for 18,110 out of 18,377 articles (98.6% of all articles from the included journals). Western Europe exceeds all world regions in research production for the period studied (34.8% of total articles), with USA ranking second (19.9%), and Latin America & the Caribbean ranking third (17.2%). The mean impact factor in articles published in Parasitology journals was highest for the USA (1.88). Oceania ranked first in research productivity when adjustments for both the gross national income per capita (GNIPC) and population were made. Eastern Europe almost tripled the production of articles from only 1.9% of total production in 1995 to 4.3% in 2003. Similarly, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia doubled their production. However, the absolute and relative production by some developing areas, including Africa, is still very low, despite the fact that parasitic diseases are major public health problems in these areas.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that more help should be provided by the developed nations to developing areas for improvement of the infrastructure of research.