Social sciences research in neglected tropical diseases 2: A bibliographic analysis
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Reidpath, D.D., Allotey, P. and Pokhrel, S. (2011) ‘Social sciences research in neglected tropical diseases 2: A bibliographic analysis’, Health Research Policy and Systems, 9(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4505-9-1.
Background There are strong arguments for social science and interdisciplinary research in the neglected tropical diseases. These diseases represent a rich and dynamic interplay between vector, host, and pathogen which occurs within social, physical and biological contexts. The overwhelming sense, however, is that neglected tropical diseases research is a biomedical endeavour largely excluding the social sciences. The purpose of this review is to provide a baseline for discussing the quantum and nature of the science that is being conducted, and the extent to which the social sciences are a part of that. Methods A bibliographic analysis was conducted of neglected tropical diseases related research papers published over the past 10 years in biomedical and social sciences. The analysis had textual and bibliometric facets, and focussed on chikungunya, dengue, visceral leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis. Results There is substantial variation in the number of publications associated with each disease. The proportion of the research that is social science based appears remarkably consistent (<4%). A textual analysis, however, reveals a degree of misclassification by the abstracting service where a surprising proportion of the "social sciences" research was pure clinical research. Much of the social sciences research also tends to be "hand maiden" research focused on the implementation of biomedical solutions. Conclusion There is little evidence that scientists pay any attention to the complex social, cultural, biological, and environmental dynamic involved in human pathogenesis. There is little investigator driven social science and a poor presence of interdisciplinary science. The research needs more sophisticated funders and priority setters who are not beguiled by uncritical biomedical promises.