Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira (English Edition) Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira (English Edition)
Rev Assoc Med Bras. 2013;59:571-5 - Vol. 59 Num.06

References of Brazilian Medical Journals in national publications

Renan Kleber Costa Teixeira a, Nara Macedo Botelho b, Andy Petroianu c

a Universidade do Pará, Belém, PA, Brazil
b Faculty of Medicine, Universidade do Pará, Belém, PA, Brazil
c Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Keywords

Journal article. Impact factor. Bibliography

Abstract

Objective: To assess whether there is a preference for international journal citation to the detriment of national ones in ten Brazilian medical journals, in two different periods.

Methods: All references in the articles published in Arquivos Brasileiros de Oftalmologia, Revista Brasileira de Cirurgia Cardiovascular, Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, São Paulo Medical Journal, Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia e Metabologia, Clinics, Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia, Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria e Acta Ortopédica Brasileira in the years 2011  and 2007  were analyzed, assessing the number of articles published in national and international journals.

Results: A total of 36,125 references from 1,462 articles published in the 10 aforementioned journals were analyzed. Of the total number, 4,242 (11.74%) were from Brazilian journals. There was no significant difference between the two analyzed periods. A  total of 453 (30.98%) articles had Brazilian references and 81 (5.54%) articles had more national than international references.

Conclusion: Of total references analyzed, 11.74% were related to articles published in Brazilian journals. This number, when compared to the percentage of Brazilian articles published in the medical area, demonstrates a good number of citations of national articles.

Article

Introduction

The Brazilian publication has grown exponentially in recent years.1  In the 1960s, the average scientific publications in journals registered in Information Sciences Institute was 52 papers per year. In the 1970s, there was little change and the mean increase to 64  papers. However, in 2001, Brazilian researchers published nearly 10,555 papers in indexed journals, corresponding to an increase of 165-fold in national publication. In the same period, global growth was 2.18-fold.2

A large part of this scientific production is produced within national public universities through post-graduate studies programs.3 However, this growth in quantity and quality of publications was not followed by Brazilian journals.4 They are still far short of international journals, mainly in relation to American journals.5,6

Part of this disproportion is related to national policies for evaluating graduate programs, concerning journals in which papers were published. Whereas all the journals with high impact factor are foreign, researchers are eventually induced to publish in them, in order to receive a higher grade by local assessors and research promotion agencies, such as FAPES, CAPES and CNPq.7-9

This disregard for national journals generates a bias sometimes unnoticed by most of the Brazilian researchers - the reduced number of citations of national papers. In an attempt to facilitate publication, there is the misconception that the citation of foreign papers will enhance the manuscript, making it equivalent to the works cited therein.10,11

The quality assessment of a journal is held through its Impact Factor (IF), based on the number of citations the journal receives. Ventura et al.12 and Figueiredo13 studied individually bibliometric data from a Brazilian scientific journal, and found that, respectively, only 9.9% and 4.4% of the citations used were from national journals, and the remaining was foreign citation.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the proportion of citations of papers published in 10 Brazilian journals.

Methods

All references in the articles published in Arquivos Brasileiros de Oftalmologia, Revista Brasileira de Cirurgia Cardiovascular, Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, São Paulo Medical Journal, Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia e Metabologia, Clinics, Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia, Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria and Acta Ortopédica Brasileira in the years 2011 and 2007 were analyzed.

The database Journal Citation Reports, with 27  national medical journals, was used to randomly select 10 scientific journals using a statistical software. The years of study from the references were based on the study of Teixeira et al.,14 which proposes a minimum window of 5 years between times of analysis.

All papers defined as "original articles" were included. Articles classified as editorials, literature review, case report, articles without reference and letters to the editor were not included in the research. Articles meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria were analyzed based on the references used by the national papers.

The research protocol assessed the total number of references used, not considering references from books, web pages or quote from quote (apud). The number of references from national and international journals and the relation between papers from national and foreign journals were verified.

We also studied the amount of citations that journals received and, from these, how many were from national journals and the journal itself. These data were acquired in SciELO for each journal.

Student t test was used to check if there was a change between the two periods in each journal, ANOVA test was used to check whether there were differences between the journals, and the linear correlation test served to verify if the number of references used influenced the amount of national references cited. A  value of p <  0.05  was used to define statistical significance in the tests.

Results

We analyzed 36,125 references in 1,462 articles from 10 journals studied in the two periods, corresponding to an average of 24.71 ± 10.14 citations per article. From the total analyzed, 20,915 (57.89%) citations were used in 804 (54.99%) articles published in 2011, with an average of 26.01 ± 9.59 citations/ article. In 2007, 658 (45.01%) papers citing 15,210 (42.11%) references were identified, corresponding to an average of 23.11 ± 10.57 citations/article. There were differences in the two research periods (p < 0.0001), and 2011 showed a higher number of citations per paper.

Concerning the citation of national journal articles, 4,242 (11.74%) references from the total references analyzed were identified, corresponding to an average of 2.90 ± 3.82 citations/ article. From this number, 2,519 (59.38%) citations were found in articles published in 2011, and 1,723 (40.62%) in articles published in 2007, (average 2.61 ± 3.47 citations/article). There was no statistical difference between the research periods (p = 0.0092).

Table 1 shows the number of references to national journals, total number of citations and articles analyzed in the years 2011 and 2007 per journal studied. In the table, it is evident that only São Paulo Medical Journal showed a significant difference in number of citations to national journals between the two periods. Moreover, it is clear that Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical had a higher mean citation to Brazilian journals than the other journals (p < 0.01).

Table 1 - Number of references to national journals, total references used and number of journal articles studied.

From all articles studied, 453 (30.98%) had no national reference. In 2011, the number of articles was 251 (31.21%), and in 2007 it was 202 (30.69%), with no difference between the two years (p = 0.9217). Eighty-one articles (5.54%) cited more articles from national than foreign journal, 49 (6.09%) articles in 2011 and 32 (4.86%) in 2007, with a significant difference between the two periods (p = 0.0411) regarding the amount of articles citing more national than foreign references.

When checked, there was no correlation between the total amount of references to journals used and the number of citations to national journals (p = 0.0040, Pearson r = 0.0924).

Table  2  shows the number of citations made to the researched journals and how many were received from national and international journals and the journal itself. It is noticed that 4.32% of all citations were received from foreign journals.

Table 2 - Number of references found in Brazilian journals from national and international journals, and the journal itself.

Discussion

The scientific knowledge produced in Brazil is in intense expansion, and these articles are achieving an unprecedented level concerning both quantity and quality. However, national publications have failed to follow this growth.2,4 The quality of a journal is measured by the IF, based on the ratio between total citations the journal received in two years and the number of articles published during this period, therefore, IF is a measure that does not directly assess the articles published, but the set of articles published in a given period.6

General citation to national journals, although it seems low (11.74%) when compared to the percentage of Brazilian production in Medicine2 (0.9%), shows a national effort of the authors to cite in-country research. It is possible to confirm this inference by the significant increase in mean citation to papers from national journals.

Several factors influence the citation, including title, where the research was executed, field of knowledge, among others.15,16 However, Pinto and Andrade17 emphasize that papers in journals from developing countries tend to have few citations for several reasons, such as difficult access to articles published in national journals, precarious journals purchased by the institutions, or the preference of Brazilian authors by international journals, even without IFand of dubious quality.

Although with a relatively high incidence of citation to national journals, it is necessary to extend this number, since about half of the national papers are never cited.2 Goffi10 states that only when there is no national information available on a given subject it is acceptable to use foreign data.

This study is not intended to encourage scientific xenophobia.14 However, awareness from national authors on this subject is needed, since nearly 1/3 of the articles make no national reference. Studying the journals alone (Table 1), it is noticed that there was a profile maintenance of citation (except one journal), showing what actions should be taken to encourage the citation of Brazilian journals.

Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical had the highest citation rate of national articles (30%). This example should be followed, since nearly all of the citations in journals studied were from national journals (95.68%); with a greater citation of Brazilian articles there will be a tendency to increasing IF and the quality of journals, and consequent indexing of these in large databases such as PubMed. Thus, the articles published in these databases may be accessed and read on a worldwide and more unrestrained scale.11,14

It should be emphasized that the data may not represent the entire universe of national medical journals, and certain journals can have profiles that differ from those found in this research, since there are several factors that influence an article citation. However, it is necessary to expand discussions on this topic, mainly to ensure the growth of national journals.

Conclusion

Among the total references analyzed, 11.74% were related to articles published in Brazilian journals. This number, when compared to the percentage of Brazilian articles published in the medical area, demonstrates a good number of citations of national articles. It is necessary to expand the citation of national papers without, however, a scientific xenophobia, since this will help national journals to reach major indexing databases and expand the amount of people who would read these articles, and consequently increase its IF.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Article history:
Received 4 October 2012
Accepted 30 June 2013

Study conducted at the University of Pará, Belém, PA, Brazil.

* Corresponding author.
E-mail: renankleberc@hotmail.com">renankleberc@hotmail.com (R.K.C. Teixeira).

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