The Relationship between the Language of Scientific Publication and its Impact in the Field of Public and Collective Health

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  • Solange Maria dos Santos
  • Grischa Fraumann
  • Simone Belli
  • Rogério Mugnaini
The language of scientific publications is a crucial factor when seeking to reach an international audience, because it affects linguistic accessibility and the geographical reach of research results. English is the language of science and the fact that it can be understood by most readers represents an undeniable advantage. Moreover, the fact that a large proportion of Ibero-American research has been published in national languages, is often cited as one of the reasons for its limited exposure. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between scientific output published in a native language and its degree of exposure and impact in the field of Public and Collective Health. This bibliometric study was carried out based on the scientific output data obtained from the most prolific countries that are members of the SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) Network in Public and Collective Health, in the 2011-2018 period. The data was collected from the SciELO Citation Index database (SciELO CI), which was integrated into the larger WoS platform in 2014 and was chosen on account of its importance as one of the few regional indexes that is still scarcely used in studies of this nature. The data shows that Brazilian articles in Portuguese had the greatest citation impact on publications in its own language (48.7%), while its articles in English present practically the same impact (48.5%) on Portuguese publications, followed by 34.5% on Spanish publications. The impact on the national language is also significant in the case of both Mexican and Spanish publications, to whom the percentage of citing articles in Spanish, for documents cited in the same language, is higher than for documents cited in English (respectively 1.6 and 1.8). The same applies to Portuguese and US-American articles where, respectively 56.6% and 43.9% of the citing articles are in their native language. Cuban and Peruvian articles have more than 90% of their citing articles in the national language. In contrast, the USA and Brazil are countries that have a greater citation impact on other languages, especially when published in Spanish. The extent of exposure of a given language of the scientific publication varies per the country´s scientific output. In the case of Brazilian and US-American publications, including publications in the national languages of these countries, the effects on audiences in other languages can be measured by the citation impact. Furthermore, the degree of exposure of certain publications suggests that SciELO CI represents a useful database for evaluating local scientific output, and this can be observed, particularly, for publications in the national language.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Scientometric Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)78-87
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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