The journal Impact factor (IF) is generally accepted to be a good measurement of the relevance/quality of articles that a journal publishes. In spite of an, apparently, homogenous peer-review process for a given journal, we hypothesize that the country affiliation of authors from developing Latin American (LA) countries affects the IF of a journal detrimentally.
Seven prestigious international journals, one multidisciplinary journal and six serving specific branches of science, were examined in terms of their IF in the Web of Science. Two subsets of each journal were then selected to evaluate the influence of author’s affiliation on the IF. They comprised contributions (i) with authorship from four Latin American (LA) countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico) and (ii) with authorship from five developed countries (England, France, Germany, Japan and USA). Both subsets were further subdivided into two groups: articles with authorship from one country only and collaborative articles with authorship from other countries. Articles from the five developed countries had IF close to the overall IF of the journals and the influence of collaboration on this value was minor. In the case of LA articles the effect of collaboration (virtually all with developed countries) was significant. The IFs for non-collaborative articles averaged 66% of the overall IF of the journals whereas the articles in collaboration raised the IFs to values close to the overall IF.
The study shows a significantly lower IF in the group of the subsets of non-collaborative LA articles and thus that country affiliation of authors from non-developed LA countries does affect the IF of a journal detrimentally. There are no data to indicate whether the lower IFs of LA articles were due to their inherent inferior quality/relevance or psycho-social trend towards under-citation of articles from these countries. However, further study is required since there are foreseeable consequences of this trend as it may stimulate strategies by editors to turn down articles that tend to be under-cited.
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