Bridging the Divide in Energy Policy Research: Empirical Evidence from Global Collaborative Networks
Energy research seeking to influence policy in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is often funded by – and conceptualised by authors in – institutions from higher income countries (HICs). Research agendas and policy recommendations determined in HICs potentially yield the most influence on policymaking in LMICs. This risks leaving a multidimensional gap in how LMICs frame, evidence and enact policies. This paper is the first to provide quantitative evidence to geographical imbalances in energy policy research, and to shed light into the fact that research proposing energy policy coupled with development objectives to LMICs is dominated by HICs researchers. We find that the latter not only publish more articles proposing energy policy to LMICs, but also are more cited when doing so. We reach these findings by analysing the spatial dynamics of energy research on LMICs through a multi-method approach using bibliometric, network science and regression-based techniques. We established a framework using a sample of 6,636 papers from the Web of Science database, journal impact data from Scimago Journal Ranking and country economic data from the World Bank. Results show the existence of a cycle of imbalances across research practices. Most scientific articles recommending energy policy for LMICs have a primary author based in a HIC, funded by a HIC institution. The number of citations articles receive increases with the GDP of the country of primary author. Funders support authors based in countries of the same income band or higher. We recommend revising research practices and funding policies to place local actors and knowledge at the heart of energy policy research, enabling high-impact policymaking in LMICs.