Scientific journals in emerging countries increase internationalization
January 08, 2014
By Elton Alisson
Agência FAPESP – Scientific journals in emerging countries, such as China, South Korea, Russia and Brazil, have intensified the internationalization process, which can be measured based on the number of articles published in English, the citations of these articles by researchers from other countries and the publication of articles authored by foreigners, among other indicators.
Brazilian journals, however, are behind the publications of these other countries in the race toward internationalization and collaboration with foreign individuals.
A panel on measuring the quality of research and international periodicals was conducted on October 24, during a conference commemorating 15 years of the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) Network, a FAPESP and Virtual Health Library (Bireme) program.
The São Paulo event brought together specialists in scientific research and communication from 25 countries to debate open access publication in the sciences and the challenges facing scientific periodicals.
“There has been growth in the internationalization of emerging countries, which is reflected by the fact that many of these nations’ magazines have begun to allow the publication of work from international researchers,” said Rogério Meneghini, scientific director at the SciELO Network, during the event.
Meneghini conducted a comparative study of the international visibility of periodicals from China, South Korea, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa in recent years, considering the number of published articles cited internationally.
The study revealed that the articles published in magazines from China and South Korea have a greater impact in terms of international citations than articles in periodicals from Russia, South Africa, India and Brazil. Brazilian scientific magazines came in fifth place in this regard out of the six emerging countries analyzed, ahead of only South Africa.
“Brazilian scientific magazines are publishing a smaller number of articles in English than are periodicals from these other four emerging countries. This offers lower international visibility,” said Meneghini.
“This is a very important parameter that we can easily control to give Brazilian periodicals greater international visibility,” he added.
These countries publish a large quantity of articles by national authors, which represent 6% of the articles indexed by Web of Science. One of the main objectives of these periodicals is to disseminate national scientific production, which often cannot find space in international publications.
To increase this dissemination, nations such as China have turned to the periodicals of Brazil and other emerging countries. China is one of the countries that most cites articles published in Brazilian periodicals and most submits studies to Brazilian magazines. These studies are largely conducted solely by Chinese researchers, without international collaboration, stressed Meneghini.
“In the case of China, it is very clear that they have immense scientific production that has not found acceptance in leading international periodicals and that they are therefore seeking a space for publication that they still don’t have in their own country,” he said.
“For this reason, the country [China] has turned to the publications of other nations, like Brazil, as attested by the quantity of articles authored by Chinese researchers that are received by Brazilian magazine editors,” said Meneghini.
According to Meneghini, the Brazilian magazines that most published articles from other countries in 2010 and 2011 were Genetics and Molecular Research and the Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society. In the former, which is not indexed by SciELO, two-thirds of the content is penned by foreign researchers.
“In the past 10 years, developed countries have increased their level of publication in the periodicals of emerging nations like Brazil by two fold,” said Meneghini. “On the other hand, these emerging countries have increased publication in Brazilian periodicals by 10-fold.”
The Brazilian periodicals most often cited in other countries are the Latin American Journal of Solids and Structures, the Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering and the Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases, which are all indexed by the SciELO Brasil database.
“It is interesting that two of these three most internationally cited Brazilian periodicals are from the materials engineering area, in contrast to other emerging countries, where the most cited national magazines are in the areas of biology and medicine,” observed Meneghini.
Low international collaboration
According to other specialists participating in the event, there is no official figure for the total number of scientific magazines currently published in Brazil. It is estimated that there are 8,000 active Brazilian periodicals, which is considered high.
“This large quantity of magazines perhaps causes dispersion effects and a leveling down of the quality of scientific articles published in Brazilian periodicals,” said Isabelle Reiss, an account manager for South America in the Scientific Research division at Thomson Reuters. According to Reiss, if there were fewer Brazilian periodicals, the selection of articles would be more rigorous, consequently, increasing the quality and visibility of the studies published.
According to Reiss, another factor that influences the low visibility of the work published by Brazilian researchers is the low level of collaboration with researchers from other continents and elsewhere in Latin America.
In her assessment, this gap could be related to Brazilian science still being very young in comparison with science in European countries and the United States.
Reiss also cites the small number of literature reviews – articles focused on examining advances in a given area of knowledge – published in Brazilian magazines.
“Reviews are written by very informed researchers, with experience accumulated over many years in their respective areas,” she said.
“In general, this type of article generates many more citations than articles that report results do because it presents an intelligent synthesis of the current stage of development of a given area of knowledge, which will be utilized by many other researchers,” said Reiss.
When reviews are written in collaboration with researchers from abroad, the number of citations can even double, affirmed the specialist.
For this reason, Brazilian magazines should publish more of this type of article, which represents only 2.4% of the work published, as estimated by Reiss.
“Brazilian magazines could attempt to identify researchers who are very experienced in their areas to write these syntheses to increase visibility,” she suggested.
Web of Knowledge Integration
During the event, the Intellectual Property and Science division at Thomson Reuters announced a partnership with SciELO to integrate the SciELO Citation Index into Web of Knowledge. This platform allows access to several databases of bibliographical references, such as Web of Science, Current Contents Connect and Journal Citation Reports (JCR), both for searches and for bibliometric indicators.
The three institutions believe that the initiative will afford greater visibility and improve access to research from the 15 Ibero-American countries and South Africa, whose collections are indexed in the SciELO Network.
“The agreement with Web of Knowledge opens new horizons in the SciELO mission to improve the visibility of the science underway in Latin America, Spain, Portugal and South Africa,” declared Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, scientific director of FAPESP, in a joint statement released by the three institutions that announced the launch of the initiative.
The SciELO Citation Index will include approximately 650 titles and more than 4 million references cited from open access periodicals in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, México, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Venezuela.
“There is a vast quantity of valuable scientific content generated and published by periodicals from emerging regions like Latin America, the Caribbean and South Africa, and it is important that this work is visible and can be accessed globally,” affirmed Abel Packer, SciELO director, in the statement.
According to Thomson Reuters, the addition of SciELO to Web of Knowledge will follow a model similar to that of the Chinese Science Citation Database, which has been hosted on Web of Knowledge since 2008, and that of the planned 2014 launch of a database of periodicals within Korean academic literature.
“For us, it a pleasure to collaborate with SciELO to promote the reach of important research from emerging regions, as well as to enhance our own database by integrating high-quality content and open access into the Web of Knowledge,” affirmed Christopher Burghardt, Vice President of academic and scientific research at Thomson Reuters.
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