Growth in Tobacco Control publications by authors from low- and middle-income countries

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Abstract

Background

Research has contributed significantly to tobacco control in high-income nations, but has not yet played a comparable role in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). In recent years, efforts have been devoted to building research capacity in LMICs. Using publication in Tobacco Control as a proxy for all tobacco control research, we examine whether research articles authored by scholars from LMICs and about LMIC issues have increased over the Journal's history.

Methods

We examined every issue of Tobacco Control from 1992 to 2011, coding contributions as to their authorship (LMIC, high-income country, or both), and whether they covered tobacco control issues in LMICs. We included all the following journal categories: Original/Research articles, Brief reports, Reviews, Letters to the editor, Special communications, Commentaries, and Editorials.

Results

We divided the Journal's first 20 years into four 5-year periods. There was no statistically significant change in LMIC authorship or LMIC issue coverage during the first three periods. From those three periods combined (1992–2006), to the most recent 5-year period (2007–2011), articles including any LMIC authors increased from 7.2% to 22.7% (p<0.05) of all original research articles; lead authorship by LMIC scholars increased from 4.0% to 13.7% (p<0.05); and coverage of LMIC issues rose from 10.1% to 30.9% (p<0.05). Similar findings resulted when combining all the journal categories.

Conclusions

Efforts to expand research by LMIC authors and about LMIC issues have begun to bear fruit, with a recent substantial increase. Still, the centrality of LMICs in the global tobacco pandemic implies that this progress only begins to address the enormous need.

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