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Reward for publishing in renowned journals

The government of Tanzania in East Africa has instituted a Research Excellence Award of 50 million Tanzanian shillings, the equivalent of roughly US$20,000, for scientists in the country who publish articles in prestigious international journals. The country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Education has established an annual budget of one billion shillings for the program, enough to reward up to 20 authors. The award is available to both original and review articles in the natural sciences, mathematics, or medicine and published between 2022 and 2023 in journals that are among the 10% most cited in their disciplines.

Maulilio Kipanyula, director of science, technology, and innovation at the ministry, told Nature that the strategy was inspired by countries like South Africa, Ireland, Australia, and Pakistan, which pay researchers to amplify the country’s scientific output in renowned journals. The approach, however, is considered controversial. China once implemented a similar program, but abandoned the approach a few decades later after evidence showed that the financial stimulus was linked to an increase in cases of misconduct by researchers trying to increase their chances of publication at any cost.

Paula Stephan, an American economist at Georgia State University in Atlanta who studies how monetary incentives affect publishing, told Nature that the Tanzanian program has one advantage: it is limited to fields that have been defined as important by the country’s government.