Clinical research in Latin America: scientific production in high impact clinical research journals from 2000 to 2010

Emmanuel Coronel, Felipe Fregni


Background: Scientific production has long been dominated by a few countries such as the United States, Europe and Japan. Historically Latin American countries have contributed marginally to the world’s scientific production, however important changes are now taking place in the geography of scientific research.  

Methods: In order to determine the current contribution of Latin America to global clinical research and whether the region has been participating in the growth of internationally collaborative research we reviewed the literature in 10 high-impact medical journals between 2000 and 2010. We manually searched original articles in 10 journals that have a strong focus on clinical research and had the highest impact factors in their fields during the study period. We identified a total of 1047 original articles published.  

Results: Our results show that Latin America was a minor contributor of research published in high impact journals with only 4 (0.38%) of the articles citing a corresponding author affiliated with a Latin American institution. Furthermore, only 23 articles (2.2%) cited non-corresponding authors from Latin America in contrast to 358 articles (34.2%) in which all the authors were affiliated with US institutions.  

Conclusions: Although these results show limited contribution from Latin America to the production of health and clinical research, it also shows that Latin America is represented in the most competitive journals given the relative lack of research infra-structure, training and challenges with language. Factors such as GDP and investment in research may play a significant role, but may not be the only contributing factors for this scenario.


Clinical research; Publication; Impact factor; Latin America

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