Evaluation of the scientific impact of the Ebola epidemic: a systematic review

Mutters NT, Malek V, Agnandji ST, Günther F, Tacconelli E.

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2018 Jun;24(6):573-576. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.08.027., 06/2018.

Objectives: The  Ebola outbreak prompted an extensive number of scientific publications,  but little attention has been paid to the involvement of local  scientists, distribution of research funding and related publications.  We sought to systematically review publicly available information on the  scientific impact of the Ebola epidemic.

Methods: A  systematic review of literature on the Ebola outbreak was performed.  Extracted information included origins of the authors, type and  distribution of funding, and impact factors (IF) of related publications  between 6 December 2013, and 22 December 2015.

Results: We  identified 460 relevant articles out of 3281 references, which were  mostly authored by American (46.6%) and European (28.4%) institutions;  only 13.4% of authors were affiliated with African institutions. Most IF  can be attributed to the Americas and Europe, with 43% (25 030.8 IF)  and 34.5% (20 074.2 IF), respectively, compared with 17.9% (10 436.5 IF)  in Africa. Funds were provided mainly by the Americas (31.8% of all  funded studies) and Europe (17%). American and European funds were also  distributed back, mainly to American (77.8%) and European (85.2%)  institutions, respectively.

Conclusions: The  Ebola outbreak had a significant scientific impact and resulted in  numerous publications in high IF journals. The main impact could be  measured in the Americas and Europe, and was directly related to  funding. African researchers were only marginally involved in the  scientific processing (86.6% of all researchers were not African),  probably because major research centres are located in America and  Europe. Our results suggest the importance of promoting closer  cooperation between regions.

Keywords: Ebola; Ebola haemorrhagic fever; Ebola virus disease; Funding; Scientific impact; West Africa.