The scientific impact of nations: journal placement and citation performance

PLoS One. 2014 Oct 8;9(10):e109195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0109195. eCollection 2014.


International collaboration is becoming increasingly important for the advancement of science. To gain a more precise understanding of how factors such as international collaboration influence publication success, we divide publication success into two categories: journal placement and citation performance. Analyzing all papers published between 1996 and 2012 in eight disciplines, we find that those with more countries in their affiliations performed better in both categories. Furthermore, specific countries vary in their effects both individually and in combination. Finally, we look at the relationship between national output (in papers published) and input (in citations received) over the 17 years, expanding upon prior depictions by also plotting an expected proportion of citations based on Journal Placement. Discrepancies between this expectation and the realized proportion of citations illuminate trends in performance, such as the decline of the Global North in response to rapidly developing countries, especially China. Yet, most countries' show little to no discrepancy, meaning that, in most cases, citation proportion can be predicted by Journal Placement alone. This reveals an extreme asymmetry between the opinions of a few reviewers and the degree to which paper acceptance and citation rates influence career advancement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • China
  • Developing Countries
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Publications / statistics & numerical data
  • Science

Grants and funding

MJS, CW, and SA were supported by National Science Foundation Science of Science Policy #1042164. EMB was supported by a University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies Faculty Research Award. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.