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Geodiversity of research - geographical topic focus and location of researchers studying SDG2: Zero Hunger

Philip James Purnell

Fri 3 Feb 2023 | 15:00 - 16:15 (CET)
Philip James Purnell

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This study examined the geodiversity of researchers through a case study of publications related to the United Nations SDG 2: Zero hunger. We assumed topical focus if a country was mentioned in the title or abstract of an article. We also determined author location through their institutional affiliation. We organised 60,000 hunger-related publications by country focus and by country affiliation according to the 2021 Global Hunger Index country categories. This revealed insights into the share of research into hunger conducted by academics based in affected areas and the relationship between local and international researchers.

Only 41% of hunger-related publications that focus on countries in the GHI alarming or extremely alarming categories feature authors affiliated to institutions in those countries. Even fewer of those publications feature locally based authors in first or last position. These numbers gradually reverse as the level of hunger declines, but we urge caution before leaping to conclusions related to ‘helicopter’ research based on author affiliations and authorship position. Examination of sample records suggest many underlying factors that contribute to the overall trends.

We discuss the role of place-based research, international research collaboration dynamics, international funding, and regional academic infrastructure as elements of the geodiversity of research.

George Vousden, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE, will contribute to the seminar by offering some reflections from the perspective of the policy that PLOS has developed on inclusion in global research.


Purnell photoCurrently an external PhD candidate at CWTS, Leiden University, I hold a master’s degree in Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry in London (1994) and a bachelor’s in human biology from the University of Wolverhampton (1993).

My career has covered the pharmaceutical (AstraZeneca), drug discovery & development (Prous Science), and academic publishing (Thomson Reuters) industries and I have spent the last 3 years in institutional advancement roles in Middle East universities. I am currently Head of Institutional Research at the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and prior to that, led all university rankings projects at the UAE University.

I have maintained a strong interest in quantitative methods of evaluating academic research and sought to understand the advantages and limitations of large multidisciplinary databases while identifying areas where development of new methods can provide benefit to research managers, policy makers and society as a whole.

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