The contemporary development discourse: Analysing the influence of development studies' journals
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ABSTRACT: The cross-disciplinary field of "development studies" involves a variety of scientific disciplines, mainly within the Social Sciences. Its cross-disciplinary character implies a complex process of forming a "development discourse" in which different disciplines are simultaneously proposing different -and sometimes contradictory- discourse components, and where there is -still- a "Western hegemony", despite the fact that research is mainly focused on the so-called "developing" countries. Based on the theories of Michel Foucault, this paper studies the role and influence of academic journals in shaping the "contemporary development discourse" by means of identifying the main areas of research, the citation networks, and the most influential articles, countries and institutions. Our bibliometric analysis focuses in four "development" journals that are ranked in the Social Sciences Citation Index in the "subject category" of "planning and development": World Development, Development and Change, Third World Quarterly and European Journal of Development Research. The analysis for the period 2000-2015 produces four main results: i) The four journals coincide on various areas of common interest (related to aid, poverty, sustainability and development challenges), which share the same rules of formation of the development discourse. ii) Journals have a limited influence in shaping the development discourse because of their inability to generate "citation bursts", and the existence of a high proportion of "disconnected" articles that mostly receive self-citations. iii) There is a clear preponderance of the Anglo-Saxon academia in the scientific production. iv) In comparative terms, World Development stands out as the most influential journal in shaping the development discourse. These results may be useful for authors and editors of development journals in order to paint a broader picture of the contemporary development discourse and to identify important editorial challenges and possible ways to strengthen the journals' coherence and influence in the formation of the development discourse.
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