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  • 1 Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques (OST) Paris ( France Paris ( France
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The increasing use of bibliometric indicators in science policy calls for a reassessment of their robustness and limits. The perimeter of journal inclusion within ISI databases will determine variations in the classic bibliometric indicators used for international comparison, such as world shares of publications or relative impacts. We show in this article that when this perimeter is adjusted using a natural criterion for inclusion of journals, the journal impact, the variation of the most common country indicators (publication and citation shares; relative impacts) with the perimeter chosen depends on two phenomena. The first one is a bibliometric regularity rooted in the main features of competition in the open space of science, that can be modeled by bibliometric laws, the parameters of which are “coverage-independent” indicators. But this regularity is obscured for many countries by a second phenomenon, the presence of a sub-population of journals that does not reflect the same international openness, the nationally-oriented journals. As a result indicators based on standard SCI or SCISearch perimeters are jeopardized to a certain extent by this sub-population which creates large irregularities. These irregularities often lead to an over-estimation of share and an under-estimation of the impact, for countries with national editorial tradition, while the impact of a few mainstream countries arguably benefits from the presence of this sub-population.