Canada's Neglected Tropical Disease Research Network: Who's in the Core—Who's on the Periphery?
This study designed and applied accessible yet systematic methods to generate baseline information about the patterns and structure of Canada's neglected tropical disease (NTD) research network; a network that, until recently, was formed and functioned on the periphery of strategic Canadian research funding.Multiple methods were used to conduct this study, including: (1) a systematic bibliometric procedure to capture archival NTD publications and co-authorship data; (2) a country-level “core-periphery” network analysis to measure and map the structure of Canada's NTD co-authorship network including its size, density, cliques, and centralization; and (3) a statistical analysis to test the correlation between the position of countries in Canada's NTD network (“k-core measure”) and the quantity and quality of research produced.Over the past sixty years (1950–2010), Canadian researchers have contributed to 1,079 NTD publications, specializing in Leishmania, African sleeping sickness, and leprosy. Of this work, 70% of all first authors and co-authors (n = 4,145) have been Canadian. Since the 1990s, however, a network of international co-authorship activity has been emerging, with representation of researchers from 62 different countries; largely researchers from OECD countries (e.g. United States and United Kingdom) and some non-OECD countries (e.g. Brazil and Iran). Canada has a core-periphery NTD international research structure, with a densely connected group of OECD countries and some African nations, such as Uganda and Kenya. Sitting predominantly on the periphery of this research network is a cluster of 16 non-OECD nations that fall within the lowest GDP percentile of the network.The publication specialties, composition, and position of NTD researchers within Canada's NTD country network provide evidence that while Canadian researchers currently remain the overall gatekeepers of the NTD research they generate; there is opportunity to leverage existing research collaborations and help advance regions and NTD areas that are currently under-developed