Dr. Hugo Confraria

Developing scientific capacity in the Global South

Year: 2019

Bart Verspagen, Robin Cowan and Lili Wang


In this thesis, our objective is to provide a better understanding of how researchers, institutions and countries in low and middle-income regions can advance their scientific capacity and employ it for higher research citation impact, international collaboration, alignment between research priorities and social needs, and university-industry interactions. We raised different research questions and used different quantitative approaches in order to provide insights for policy makers to create and manage policies that promote the absorption, creation, diffusion, application, and retention of scientific knowledge in the Global South. The second chapter is the first study that creates a framework to analyse the determinants of citation impact at country level. It displays a U-shaped relationship between research citation impact and GDPpc and finds that previous citation impact, level of international collaboration and total publications in a specific scientific field are important determinants of citation impact among all nations. However, specialisation in particular scientific fields seem significantly more important in lower income regions. The third and fourth chapters combine unique survey data with bibliometric data to study the characteristics of highly cited researchers in Africa and which factors influence international research collaboration in Africa. The results are consistent with previous literature but discussed within the African context. In the fifth chapter of the thesis, we change focus, and we investigate to what extent health research capacity in Africa has been aligned with medical needs in the continent. We use text mining to combine bibliometric data from the Web of Science with the estimates of the disability-adjusted life years produced by the World Health Organization. We find that in sub-Saharan Africa most diseases with high disease burden are also the ones with relatively more research effort and that the resources used to fund that research come mostly from international research funders (public non-African and philanthropic). In the last empirical chapter, we study what kind of characteristics make research institutions more prone to interact with the private sector in Latin America. The main finding is that the scientific institutions that have a more diverse set of knowledge sources and are in brokerage positions at the national level, within their scientific discipline, are the ones that are working more intensively with industry.

Selected publications by Hugo Confraria

Articles (journal, professional, popular)
Confraria, Hugo & Lili Wang, 2020, `Medical research versus disease burden in Africa, Research Policy, 49, More information
Confraria, Hugo, Jaco Blanckenberg & Charl Swart, 2018, `The characteristics of highly cited researchers in Africa, Research Evaluation, More information
Confraria, Hugo & Fernando Vargas (eds.), 2017, `Scientific systems in Latin America, The Journal of Technology Transfer, More information
Confraria, Hugo, Manuel Mira Godinho & Lili Wang, 2017, `Determinants of citation impact, Research Policy, 46, More information
Confraria, Hugo & Manuel Mira Godinho, 2014, `The impact of African science: a bibliometric analysis, Scientometrics, 102, More information

Book chapters
Ciarli, Tommaso, Hugo Confraria, Ismael Rafols, Joanna Chataway & Andrew Stirling, 2021, Research Priorities May Not Align with the SDGs: Policy Suggestions to Steer Them, in: IATT, Emerging science, frontier technologies, and the SDGs - Perspectives from the UN system and science and technology communities, United Nations Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, New York, More information

UNU-MERIT Working Papers
Confraria, Hugo, Manuel Mira Godinho & Lili Wang, 2016, Determinants of citation impact: A comparative analysis of the Global South versus the Global North, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2016-029

Conference contributions
Confraria, Hugo, E. Noyons & Tommaso Ciarli, 2021, Countries' research priorities in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, 18th International Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI) - Online, Leuven, Belgium, 12-15 July 2021, More information
Confraria, Hugo, Jaco Blanckenberg & Charl Swart, 2017, The characteristics of highly cited researchers in Africa, STI2017, Paris
Confraria, Hugo, Manuel Mira Godinho & Lili Wang, 2016, Determinants of citation impact: A comparative analysis of the Global South versus the Global North, STI Conference 2016. Valencia, September 2016
Confraria, Hugo, 2016, Determinants of citation impact in Africa, Workshop "Science and development: Growth, expansion and role of the university system in South Africa”, Stellenbosch, April 2016
Confraria, Hugo & Fernando Vargas, 2015, Scientific networks and collaborations with industry in Latin America, Globelics 2015, Havana, September 2015
Confraria, Hugo, 2013, Science and Technology in Africa: A Bibliometric and Patent Analysis, International Seminar on Social Sciences and Development in Africa. CESA, ISEG. Lisbon

Confraria, Hugo, 2019, Developing scientific capacity in the Global South, PhD Dissertation Maastricht University / United Nations University