, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 69–86 | Cite as

Physics publication productivity in South African universities

  • Alan Peter Matthews


Publication productivity during 2009–2011 was studied for physicists who teach in South African universities, using data from departmental websites and Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science. The objective was to find typical ranges of two measures of individual productivity: number of papers and sum of author share, where author share per n-author paper is 1/n author units (AU). All values given below are average output per year. Median productivity was 1.33 papers (inter-quartile range 0.33–2.33) and 0.3 AU (inter-quartile range 0.1–0.5 AU). The lowest 10 % did not publish, and the top 10 % produced above four papers and above 1 AU. Productivity varied with rank, ranging from medians of 0.67 papers and 0.2 AU for lecturers to 1.67 papers and 0.4 AU for full professors. Productivity of South African professors was similar to that of a sample of USA professors in a comparable mid-ranked bracket in the Shanghai Jiao Tong world ranking of universities, and about half that of professors in the six top-ranked departments in the world, which had medians of four papers and 1 AU.


Physics Publication Productivity South Africa Universities 



The author acknowledges useful discussions with Richard Mace, Thomas Konrad, Francesco Petruccione, and Romulus Breban. Thanks also to Steven Katashaya (North West Univ), Joseph Kirui (Univ Venda), Erasmus Rammutla (Univ Limpopo), and Erich Rohwer (Univ Stellenbosch) for verifying or supplying academic staff information. Some of the work was done as a Visiting Scientist at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, supported by a Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration travel grant from the NRF (UID 78894), and sabbatical leave from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics-Durban Academic Group, School of Chemistry and PhysicsUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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