METHODS: A bibliographic analysis was conducted of neglected tropical diseases related research papers published over the past 10 years in biomedical and social sciences. The analysis had textual and bibliometric facets, and focussed on chikungunya, dengue, visceral leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis.
RESULTS: There is substantial variation in the number of publications associated with each disease. The proportion of the research that is social science based appears remarkably consistent (<4%). A textual analysis, however, reveals a degree of misclassification by the abstracting service where a surprising proportion of the "social sciences" research was pure clinical research. Much of the social sciences research also tends to be "hand maiden" research focused on the implementation of biomedical solutions.
CONCLUSION: There is little evidence that scientists pay any attention to the complex social, cultural, biological, and environmental dynamic involved in human pathogenesis. There is little investigator driven social science and a poor presence of interdisciplinary science. The research needs more sophisticated funders and priority setters who are not beguiled by uncritical biomedical promises.