By Lilian Nassi-Calò
As journals improve and improve their performance, they reach higher and more demanding audiences, and consequently attract better articles. The path to strengthening publications by audience broadening almost always goes through its internationalization, which includes attracting readers and authors from other parts of the world, sustaining and reinforcing the virtuous circle, larger audience – better articles.
The growing adoption of English language by Brazilian journals has contributed to expanding the frontiers of the science produced in the country, in an unprecedented leap of quality and relevance. The internationalization of Brazilian science communicated in nationally and internationally published journals – which in addition to the simple publication in English also includes attracting international authors, editors and members of the editorial board, led to the introduction of this component in the performance evaluation of publications by funding agencies and research support programs in the country. Moreover, internationalization is one of the priority components promoted by the SciELO Program, along with the strengthening professionalization and financial sustainability, as a way of internationally consolidate Brazil’s journals – and research.
Psychology is one of the areas in Brazil committed to science and journals internationalization, especially in the last decade, when titles and abstracts became available in English, as well as supplementary material in the lingua franca of science. In order to quantify and evaluate the degree of internationalization of Brazilian psychology journals, Chris Fradkin, a Psychology researcher at University of California, USA, conducted a bibliometric study1 based on four indicators: (1) articles in English; (2) the presence of foreign editors; (3) foreign authors; and (4) study style. The first three are part of the criteria recommended by Rogerio Meneghini, Scientific Director of the SciELO Program, and the fourth was introduced by the author. The study aimed to measure the relations between the presumed internationalization indexes and ‘real world internationalization’, a term defined by Fradkin that represents the status of journals in terms of internationalization of the main psychology journals of Brazil.
The study sample consisted of 17 Brazilian psychology journals included in 2014 in SCImago Journal Rank (SJR). In 2015, these journals published 759 articles in total, of which 672 were the subject of Fradkin’s bibliometric study, except editorials, book reviews, interviews, letters to the editor, and others. These articles were analyzed based on the following parameters: article text in English; members of the editorial board with English-speaking country affiliation; institutional affiliation of the main author (corresponding author) from an English-speaking country; empirical studies; and being edited by an international publisher. In order to obtain a degree of internationalization, the number of articles with each of these independent characteristics was compared to the total number of articles.
The 17 Brazilian psychology journals best evaluated according to the SJR belong to the third to fifth quintile, ranking them well below the international average. In the national panorama, however, 14 of them are ranked at the top of the Qualis CAPES stratum of the Psychology area, classified as A1 or A2. These journals have between 0.02 and 0.58 citations per article counted in 2012-2013. All, except for two (Psychology & Neuroscience and Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica), are published by national publishers and nine are not indexed by SciELO (including the two titles above that were excluded when they switched to commercial publishers).
The analysis of the best psychology journals in Brazil revealed that, in fact, there is a statistically significant correlation between the degree of internationalization and three of the four parameters adopted by Fradkin. Only the percentage of English articles did not show any correlation with the degree of internationalization. The other three criteria, namely, higher prevalence of non-Brazilian editorial board members from English-speaking countries; highest percentage of authors with institutional affiliation from English-speaking countries; and a higher proportion of empirical articles showed a positive correlation with the journals’ degree of internationalization.
It may seem paradoxical that the publication of articles in English is not associated to a greater degree of internationalization. This option, in fact, is the first measure adopted by journals searching greater visibility and international presence. The SciELO Program, in particular the SciELO Brazil collection, has long been recommended to editors of its journal to increase the number of articles published in English, or bilingual. This percentage, in the collection, increased from 48% in 2011 to 62% in 2015. The goal of SciELO for 2019 is to reach 75% of articles in the lingua franca of science. Moreover, studies2,3 indicate a positive correlation between researchers from Brazil and Latin America publishing in English and number of citations.
Publishing in English only, however, does not grant studies greater credibility or rigor, just as it is not enough to publish in English to achieve a greater degree of internationalization. The study’s author stresses, however, that internationalization through the inclusion of more members of the editorial board or authors with affiliation from English-speaking countries in Brazilian journals does not mean replacing Brazilian actors with foreigners. In his opinion, it is necessary to complement their expertise with the contribution of foreign researchers whose native language is English in the editorial process (peer review, editorial decisions, revision of texts and abstracts in English), as well as to focus on contents for a global target audience, in order to improve the overall quality of Brazilian journals. This quality leap suggested by Fradkin also includes privileging empirical studies, methodologically more appropriate to the international audience than descriptive studies. The author adds that it would be desirable to consider the participation of foreign referees in the peer review process. Information on the make-up of the panel of referees, however, is not always available in journals, but it would be an important contribution, in his opinion. It should be noted that the study in question presents a strangely limited view of international affiliation restricted to institutions of English-speaking countries. However, in the scientific literature in general and in SciELO methodology in particular, international collaboration includes institutional affiliation of any country, except that of the journal’s country of publication.
Despite the general notion on the concept of internationalization of journals or science, as a whole, it is not clear which level should be reached to characterize this condition. Fradkin suggests that it is the time when a certain group of journals would reach the same impact indexes of journals in the first quintile. However, according to Abel Packer, Coordinator of the SciELO Program, reaching values above the median, or the second quintile, would be an extraordinary gain, since it is almost impossible to reach the first quintile in the current indexing structure that favors the already consolidated journals. In any case, the efforts undertaken by Brazilian journals in favor of a greater international presence, such as those proposed by the SciELO Program, aim at continuously improving their quality, visibility and impact, as well as that of the science they report. As this psychology study shows, there are many potential success cases on the horizon.
1. FRADKIN, C. The Internationalization of Psychology Journals in Brazil: A Bibliometric Examination Based on Four Indices. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) [online]. 2017, vol. 27, no. 66, pp. 7-15, ISSN 0103-863X [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-43272766201702. Available from: http://ref.scielo.org/xnr3sb
2. NASSI-CALÒ, L. Estudo aponta que artigos publicados em inglês atraem mais citações [online]. SciELO em Perspectiva, 2016 [viewed 26 February 2017]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/blog/2016/11/04/estudo-aponta-que-artigos-publicados-em-ingles-atraem-mais-citacoes/
3. GAMBA, E. C., PACKER, A. L. and MENEGHINI, R. Pathways to Internationalize Brazilian Journals of Psychology. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2015, vol. 28, suppl. 1, pp. 66-71, ISSN 0102-7972 [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1590/1678-7153.20152840010. Available from: http://ref.scielo.org/hpnvd6
FRADKIN, C. The Internationalization of Psychology Journals in Brazil: A Bibliometric Examination Based on Four Indices. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) [online]. 2017, vol. 27, no. 66, pp. 7-15, ISSN 0103-863X [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-43272766201702. Available from: http://ref.scielo.org/xnr3sb
GAMBA, E. C., PACKER, A. L. and MENEGHINI, R. Pathways to Internationalize Brazilian Journals of Psychology. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2015, vol. 28, suppl. 1, pp. 66-71, ISSN 0102-7972 [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1590/1678-7153.20152840010. Available from: http://ref.scielo.org/hpnvd6
MENANDRO, P. R. M., et al. The Brazilian Psychology Postgraduate System and the Internationalization Process: Critical Aspects, Evaluation Indicators and Challenges for Consolidation. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2015, vol. 28, suppl. 1, pp.57-65, ISSN 0102-7972 [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1590/1678-7153.2015284009. Available from: http://ref.scielo.org/2dmwxm
MENEGHINI, R. and PACKER, A. L. Is there science beyond English? Initiatives to increase the quality and visibility of non-English publications might help to break down language barriers in scientific communication. EMBO Reports [online]. 2007, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 112–116 [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400906. Available from: http://embor.embopress.org/content/8/2/112
MENEGHINI, R. SciELO, Scientific Electronic Library Online, a database of open access journals. Higher Learning Res Commun. [online] 2013, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 3-7 [viewed 26 February 2017]. DOI: 10.18870/hlrc.v3i3.153. Available from: http://www.hlrcjournal.com/index.php/HLRC/article/view/153
NASSI-CALÒ, L. Study shows that articles published in English attract more citations [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2016 [viewed 26 February 2017]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2016/11/04/study-shows-that-articles-published-in-english-attract-more-citations/
PACKER, A. Internationalization of journals was the central topic of the 4th Annual SciELO Meeting [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2014 [viewed 26 February 2017]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2014/12/16/internationalization-of-journals-was-the-central-topic-of-the-4th-annual-scielo-meeting/
PACKER, A. The adoption of English among SciELO Brazil journals has been increasing [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2016 [viewed 14 March 2017]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2016/05/10/the-adoption-of-english-among-scielo-brazil-journals-has-been-increasing/
Lilian Nassi-Calò studied chemistry at Instituto de Química – USP, holds a doctorate in Biochemistry by the same institution and a post-doctorate as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Wuerzburg, Germany. After her studies, she was a professor and researcher at IQ-USP. She also worked as an industrial chemist and presently she is Coordinator of Scientific Communication at BIREME/PAHO/WHO and a collaborator of SciELO.
Translated from the original in Portuguese by Lilian Nassi-Calò.
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