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BMC Med Res Methodol. 2009 Apr 17;9:26. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-9-26.

Arab nations lagging behind other Middle Eastern countries in biomedical research: a comparative study.

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Department of Nephrology, Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.



Analysis of biomedical research and publications in a country or group of countries is used to monitor research progress and trends. This study aims to assess the performance of biomedical research in the Arab world during 2001-2005 and to compare it with other Middle Eastern non-Arab countries.


PubMed and Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-expanded) were searched systematically for the original biomedical research publications and their citation frequencies of 16 Arab nations and three non-Arab Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Israel and Turkey), all of which are classified as middle or high income countries.


The 16 Arab countries together have 5775 and 14,374 original research articles listed by PubMed and SCI-expanded, respectively, significantly less (p < 0.001) than the other three Middle Eastern countries (25,643 and 49,110). The Arab countries also scored less when the data were normalized to population, gross domestic product (GDP), and GDP/capita. The publications from the Arab countries also have a significantly lower (p < 0.001) citation frequency.


The Arab world is producing fewer biomedical publications of lower quality than other Middle Eastern countries. Studies are needed to clarify the causes and to propose strategies to improve the biomedical research status in Arab countries.

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