The purpose of this study is to elucidate the production dynamics, growth characteristics and trends of African trypanosomiasis research (ATREP) literature between 1900 and 1985 through graphical methods.
The data analysed comprised 5139 articles from Tropical Diseases Bulletin and Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Information Quarterly. Counting technique was employed in sorting the articles according to yearly production and respective subject disciplines. The bibliometric ranks of the disciplines were determined based on (1) the total output and (2) the average decennial relative changes (Rc) in publications between 1936 and 1985 using 1936/45 as the base decade.
The results show that the growth is neither linear nor logistic but exponential with an average 39.5-year doubling time. A marked feature is the occurrence of high “epidemic” peaks between 1910–1914 and 1979–1985, a state in which publications were produced at relatively high level probably due to new discoveries or research orientation; and hence capable of quickly infecting a large number of scientists enhancing productivity. There was also a low level of activity from 1914 which lasted for about 22 years.
The foundation disciplines for African Trypanosomiasis Research Programme (ATREP) are entomology and parasitology. Entomology had the highest bibliometric rank followed by parasitology. However, the Refactors indicate that greater attention, as depicted by publication outburst, was given to physiology, immunology, biochemistry, and epidemiology between 1976–1985 than had been before.
In spite of its consistently higher output, entomology exhibited the greatest fluctuating growth trend than all the other components. A possible explanation for this behaviour was ventured.