Scope and geographical distribution of African medical journals active in 2005

S Afr Med J. 2006 Jun;96(6):533-8.


Objectives: To identify all African medical journals actively publishing in 2005, and to create a geodatabase of these to evaluate and monitor future journal activity.

Design: A search was done for relevant African medical journals on electronic databases, library catalogues and internet sites, and a list was compiled of active journals. A survey was conducted via questionnaire of editors of all listed African medical journals defined as having an editorial base on the continent.

Results: One hundred and fifty-eight African medical journals were identified, published in 33 countries. One hundred and fifty-three editors were surveyed via email, post and/or fax. There was a 39% response rate from editors based in 17 countries. Fifty-one journals were published in English, 7 in French and 1 in Portuguese. Most journals were owned by an association or a society and were funded from a combination of sources. Journals covered general medical and specialist medical interest equally. Most (41 of 59 journals) had a circulation below 1 000, and most (52/59) published 4 or fewer issues a year. Almost all the journals included original research, and articles were peer reviewed. Few were indexed on Medline (N = 18) and EMBASE (N = 10). Plotting journal location using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software provided a snapshot view of current journal activity.

Conclusions: This study is likely to represent the most comprehensive list of current African medical journals. It confirms growth in African health care research and journal activity on the continent. Limited inclusion in international databases and accessibility to African researchers remain challenges in achieving publication of high-quality African research in high-quality African journals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing
  • Africa
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Financing, Organized / organization & administration
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • MEDLINE / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine
  • Ownership / organization & administration
  • Peer Review, Research
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Publishing / organization & administration*
  • Research
  • Societies, Medical / organization & administration
  • Specialization
  • Specialties, Surgical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires