Comparison of journal self-citation rates between some Chinese and non-Chinese international journals

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49001. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049001. Epub 2012 Nov 16.


Background: The past 3 decades have witnessed a boost in science development in China; in parallel, more and more Chinese scientific journals are indexed by the Journal Citation Reports issued by Thomson Reuters (SCI). Evaluation of the performance of these Chinese SCI journals is necessary and helpful to improve their quality. This study aimed to evaluate these journals by calculating various journal self-citation rates, which are important parameters influencing a journal impact factor.

Methodology/principal findings: We defined three journal self-citation rates, and studied these rates for 99 Chinese scientific journals, almost exhausting all Chinese SCI journals currently available. Likewise, we selected 99 non-Chinese international (abbreviated as 'world') journals, with each being in the same JCR subject category and having similar impact factors as their Chinese counterparts. Generally, Chinese journals tended to be higher in all the three self-citation rates than world journal counterparts. Particularly, a few Chinese scientific journals had much higher self-citation rates.

Conclusions/significance: Our results show that generally Chinese scientific journals have higher self-citation rates than those of world journals. Consequently, Chinese scientific journals tend to have lower visibility and are more isolated in the relevant fields. Considering the fact that sciences are rapidly developing in China and so are Chinese scientific journals, we expect that the differences of journal self-citation rates between Chinese and world scientific journals will gradually disappear in the future. Some suggestions to solve the problems are presented.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Internationality*
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Language*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*

Grant support

The present study was supported in part by the Research Foundation of the ISTIC-Thomson Reuters Joint Lab for Scientometrics Research (No. IT2010014), and National Social Science Foundation of China (No. 11BTQ022), both to ZGY. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. No additional external funding was received for this study.