Challenges facing Arab researchers in conducting and publishing scientific research: a qualitative interview study

Research Ethics 20 (2):331-362 (2024)
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Abstract

Arab researchers encounter formidable obstacles when conducting and publishing their scientific work. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 Arab researchers from various Arab Middle East countries to gain a comprehensive understanding of the difficulties they face in research and publication. We analyzed the transcripts using reflexive thematic analysis. Our findings revealed several key challenges. First, Arab researchers struggle to conduct high-quality research due to limited resources, inadequate funding, and a lack of a supportive research infrastructure. Furthermore, a shortage of teamwork and mentoring diminishes research productivity. Perverse promotion policies, heavy teaching loads, and low salaries force many researchers to seek external income sources, leaving them with insufficient time for research. Regarding publishing in high-impact journals, Arab researchers confront challenges existing of insufficient scientific writing skills, underrepresentation on editorial boards, and unconscious biases against researchers from economically challenged areas. Finally, achieving research integrity is closely tied to lack of access to essential resources. To address these issues, our participants proposed targeted interventions at the institutional and external levels. For example, universities can implement mentoring programs, offer workshops on scientific writing and publishing, and foster a supportive institutional culture for research. Addressing the underrepresentation of Arabic researchers on editorial boards is crucial for equity in global scientific publishing. In conclusion, acknowledging and addressing these challenges will empower Arab researchers, elevate research quality, and promote equitable global scientific collaboration. Our findings provide guidance for universities, governments, and international donors seeking to enhance research and publication practices in the Arab Middle East.

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Henry Silverman
University of Maryland at Baltimore

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