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Original article

Vol. 141 No. 0304 (2011)

Lost in translation: the impact of publication language on citation frequency in the scientific dental literature

  • D Poomkottayil
  • MM Bornstein
  • P Sendi
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2011;141:w13148


PRINCIPLES: Citation metrics are commonly used as a proxy for scientific merit and relevance. Papers published in English, however, may exhibit a higher citation frequency than research articles published in other languages, though this issue has not yet been investigated from a Swiss perspective where English is not the native language.

METHODS: To assess the impact of publication language on citation frequency we focused on oral surgery papers indexed in PubMed MEDLINE that were published by Swiss Dental Schools between 2002 and 2007. Citation frequency of research papers was extracted from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and Google Scholar database. An univariate and multivariate logistic regression model was used to assess the impact of publication language (English versus German/French) on citation frequency, adjusted for journal impact factor, number of authors and research topic.

RESULTS: Papers published in English showed a 6 (ISI database) and 7 (Google Scholar) times higher odds for being cited than research articles published in German or French.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that publication language substantially influences the citation frequency of a research paper. Researchers should publish their work in English to render them accessible to the international scientific community.


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