The study seeks to identify the influence of local and regional publications in the production of public health research papers
in the Latin American region. A citation analysis of the papers published in the following three leading journals in the field
of public health was conducted: Revista Médica de Chile (Chile) (RMCh); Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición (Venezuela) (ALAN); and Salud Pública de México (México) (SPM). Papers were analyzed for the period 2003–2007. SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) and the printed
version of the journals were used in the analysis. Overall, 1,273 papers from 122 journal issues were analyzed. References
accounted for a total of 38,459. Over 90% of the production was published through the collaboration of two or more authors.
Author affiliation corresponded in most cases to the country of origin of the journal. References to Portuguese papers accounted
for nearly 5% in ALAN and less than 1% each in SPM and RMCh. Citations among the three journals were not significant. Only
ALAN cited RMCh and SPM over 3% each, of total citations. SPM and RMCh cited each other less than 1% of total citations. With
the exception of ALAN, most public health papers published in RMCh and SPM derived from the national collaboration of researchers
in the field. A small amount of public health knowledge communication was being transferred from Brazil to the region through
RMCh and SPM. A vertical and individual (per journal/country) model of knowledge communication in public health was identified.
Bibliometric research can provide science policy makers with indicators of the capacity of a country's national scientific system to produce printed information. The capacity of the local publishing industry to produce scientific and technical periodical publications reflects the availability of outlets for the dissemination of scientific findings. The present research attempts to evaluate the role of the publishing industry in the level of bibliographic control, and the level of peer review of periodical publications from Latin America. A random search was performed on the 1990 Cd-Rom version ofThe Serials Directory, a commercially produced international reference source on periodical publications. A sample of 311 periodicals from Latin America was downloaded to a local database. A similar search was performed on publications from the United States and the United Kingdom for comparison purposes. A random search of 235 publications was downloaded into a local database. Publishers were classified for both samples according to three types: academic, governmental, and commercial. Publications were sorted thematically and indicators of bibliographic control, and of peer review were recorded for both samples. Publications from Latin America showed a very low level of bibliographic control, particularly in the case of the assignment of ISSN numbers, where 58% of the sample studied was published without this element of bibliographic control. This contrasted sharply with the periodicals from the US and UK, where 83% (195) journals had an ISSN number assigned. The involvement of editorial boards in the academic quality of Latin American publications amounted only to 21% of the sample studied. Periodicals from the US and UK reported an editor as responsible for the journal in 40% (93) of the cases. This amount constitutes about double the number of editors reported by Latin American publications. Latin American academic publishers are the most numerous publishers in the sample studied accounting for 37% (114) of the journals studied however, 68% (77) of those editors printed periodicals without a named editor. Governmental publishers are the second largest publisher type. They produced 29% (89) of the journals in the sample. Commercial publishers are responsible for 26% (82) of the journals studied. Publications from the US and UK show a clear predominance of commercial publishers, accounting for 47% (111) of the journals. Academic publishers only produced 29% (68) of the 235 journals in the sample. This clear dominance of the commercial publisher sector shows that publishing in at least the two countries studied is clearly practised as a business enterprise. This is in sharp comparison to the publishing patterns exhibited in Latin America where the academic sector is the most prominent one.
International collaboration is an important ingredient of present-day scientific research. Latin America, for instance, is increasing its production of internationally coauthored publications and, the number of national institutions involved in this activity. An index developed to measure international collaboration by taking into account individual institutional participation resulted in a positive average increase in the production of developing countries (DCs) research. Nonetheless, the degree of institutional participation varies between field and with respect to the country in question. Giving weight to individual institutional participation, could motivate DCs scientists to enhance their role in the international science of the region. Likewise, this index could be developed as quality indicator of national institutional performance.
Paper presented at the conference 'Literary Histories and the Development of Identities' sponsored by the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council of Canada involving members of the I.C.L.A. Coordinating Committee at Queen's University,
Canada, in the Fall of 2001.