Bibliometric Analysis and Systematic Review of Indigenous Knowledge from a Comparative African Perspective: 1990–2020

Olgah Lerato Malapane, Walter Musakwa, Nelson Chanza, Verena Radinger-Peer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, indigenous knowledge (IK) has been shown to be a critical factor in economic growth and sustainable development and is as important as scientific knowledge. However, when it comes to the African narrative, IK research still seems to fall short, even with the great recognition and interest it is attracting. IK has always been underprivileged and marginalized, treated as an unsubstantiated type of knowledge that cannot provide any scientific solutions. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to provide an insight into the importance of IK research from a comparative African perspective from 1990 to 2020. The paper used a combination of bibliometric analysis and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) protocol to provide a comprehensive view of IK research. The VOSviewer software was used to provide a visualization of the bibliometric analysis through network maps. The findings suggest that while IK is a globally recognized concept, the African narrative is missing and not told by Africans. Most researched studies on IK in Africa are on ethnobotany, customs, traditions, agroforestry, and agriculture. Moreover, most of the IK research is from Southern Africa. There is a need for the integration of IK and scientific knowledge to develop well-informed approaches, methodologies, and frameworks that cater to indigenous communities and resilient ecological development. The research outcomes provide valuable insights for future research trends; they further highlight opportunities for building research partnerships for strengthening policy generation and implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1167
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Africa
  • bibliometric
  • indigenous knowledge
  • indigenous people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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