Ann Transplant 2008; 13(3): 48-49
I read the valuable paper titled “Transplantation research output by Muslim Nations: Current status, trends and future outlook” by Nourbala et al  in the previous issue of Annals of Tansplantation with great interest. Bibliometry is a fundamental part for research policy making, while we lack it in the field of transplantation . On the other hand, the point that appeals to me was the peak of publication from Iran in 2007, with 120 papers in comparison with 33 in 2006, which means a 260% increase in only one year. However, the authors predicted a drastic drop of publications by the Iranian scientists in the field by 2008. They related this conclusion to the irregularity in trend of publications in the previous years.
Unfortunately, I have to agree with them and would like to emphasize a reason of this instability: the weakness in the link between clinicians and professional research assistant teams and networks, which was experienced lately by a newly developed transplantation research center in our country.
In 2006, just a year before the abovementioned peak, an innovative decision was made by the research deputy of Baqyiatallah University of Medical Sciences (BMSU) at the same time of developing a new research center, namely the Nephrology Urology Research Center (NURC). They invited a research assistant team to join their research center (the model and outputs of this link have been described elsewhere [3,4]). As a result, a group of professional research assistants joined the outstanding professors, a phenomenon not well developed in our country, whereas using the research assistants who are hard working and motivated is a well known process in many academic institutes worldwide. Although this connection led to the publication of at least 40 of the 2007 papers on transplantation by a single research center, unfortunately, it could not remain stable.
The unstable nature of these cooperative plans shifts these professional research assistant teams to other fields each year, which may create a peak in another fields; nonetheless, the resultant achievements will be temporary. Limiting regulations and lack of support continues to preclude a persistent network that would be beneficial for both parts. Many professional individuals, groups and even institutes working in the private sector such as Dr. Taheri Medical Research Group (see the affiliations in the discussed article), Farzan institute, Medicine and Health Promotion Institute [www.mhpinstitute.ir], and Scientific Writing Network (SWN) [www.swn.ir] are suffering from a very unstable situation in their financial relation with health organizations. The most dominant part of the problem is the traditional thought by research directors and policy makers that the research funds should be paid for research conduction costs but not its publication expenditures. Direct financial support of publication and writing assistance is currently limited in Iran. Consequently, the final product of research grants may be just a “final report” stocked in library shelves. This means we are selecting to be perished not published.
I believe that the benefit of the link between research organizations and professional research assistants, which is well known in some countries, has not been well understood in our country. Why are we unable to do so? I can only hope for a better view of research directors and policy makers in our country in the future.
1. Nourbala MH, Taheri S, Habibi R et al: “Transplantation” research output by Muslim Nations: Current status, trends and future outlook. Ann Transplant, 2008; 13(2): 21–27
2. Aslani J, Khedmat H, Assari S et al: Transplantation research in Iran: a bibliometric study. Transplant Proc, 2007; 39(4): 788–89
3. Einollahi B, Bahaeloo-Horeh S, Assari S, Ghanei M: Kidney Transplantation Society Tries to Answer Its Questions through a link between Scientists and Young Researchers. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl, Accepted
4. Ghanei M, Saadat SH, Bahaeloo-Horeh S et al: Facilitating medical research for a group of young Iranian physicians: does it decrease the risk of brain drain? IJME, 2008; Accepted
Keywords: bibliometry transplantation Iran Muslim, renal transplantation, academic research practices