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Internationalization of academic journals: Is there still a gap between social and natural sciences?

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In this study we compare internationalization of academic journals in six fields of science. Internationalization was investigated through journals’ concentration on publishing papers from particular countries, relationship between the geographical distributions of editors and authors, and relationship between language of publication and the geographical distribution of papers. Having analyzed more than 1,000 journals we can state that social sciences literature in the fields considered is still nationally and linguistically fragmented more than natural sciences literature, but in some cases the gap is not so big. One of the consequences concerning research output assessment is that usefulness of international databases having national disparity in coverage is still limited in social sciences.

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  1. There are several publications, included in JCR Science Edition 2011, which have empty Impact Factor cells.

  2. The use of the Impact Factor quartiles for classifying journals by impact level is a common technique, but when the validity of classification is crucial, for example in national research evaluation systems, this approach is contested (e.g. Garcia et al. 2012).


  4. In The World Factbook languages for each country are ordered starting with the largest in terms of the percent of speakers in total population.

  5. Only journals indexed in WoS throughout 2002–2011 were included in this analysis.

  6. In this study "board member was operationally defined as an international member if his/her institutional affiliation was in a different country than the journal’s primary place of publication".

  7. The home country of the journal was measured in this study as the country of affiliation of the editor.

  8. Let us repeat, as this terminology can be confusing, that we did not check the authors' countries of origin to decide what languages are native and foreign for them. Rather we checked their institutional affiliations. If any of the authors of an English-language paper works in some English-speaking country we assign this paper to a "native language" group.

  9. This particular publication shows that for a journal to have a high share of papers written in a foreign language is not the same as to be highly international. The journal is published in English, but it has some traits of national-oriented, in this case Lithuanian-oriented, publication. Its prominent position in the Impact Factor rating (12th among 317 journals) to a large extent is provided by citations from other Lithuanian publications.


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This study was carried out within “The National Research University Higher School of Economics’ Academic Fund Program in 2012–2013, research Grant No. 11-01-0037”.

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Correspondence to Ekaterina L. Dyachenko.

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Dyachenko, E.L. Internationalization of academic journals: Is there still a gap between social and natural sciences?. Scientometrics 101, 241–255 (2014).

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