Language and Geographic Representation of Neurosurgical Journals: A Meta-Science Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



World neurosurgery




global health; global neurosurgery; global surgery; health disparities; health equity; neurological surgery; research equity


OBJECTIVE: Medical journals have a role in promoting representation of neurosurgeons who speak primary languages other than English. We sought to characterize the language of publication and geographic origin of neurosurgical journals, delineate associations between impact factor (IF) and language and geographic variables, and describe steps to overcome language barriers to publishing. METHODS: Web of Science, Scopus, and Ulrich's Serial Analysis system were searched for neurosurgery journals. Journals were screened for relevance. Language of publication, country and World Health Organization region, World Bank income status and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and citation metrics were extracted. RESULTS: Of 867 journals, 74 neurosurgical journals were included. Common publication languages were English (52, 70.3%), Mandarin (5, 6.8%), and Spanish (4, 5.4%). Countries of publication for the greatest number of journals were the United States (23, 31.1%), United Kingdom (8, 10.8%), and China (6, 8.1%). Most journals originated from the Americas region (29, 39.2%) and European region (28, 37.8%) and from high-income countries (n=54, 73.0%). Median IF was 1.55 (interquartile range (IQR) 0.89-2.40). Journals written in English (1.77 [IQR 1.00-2.87], p=0.032) and from high-income countries (1.81 [IQR 1.0-2.70], p=0.046) had highest median IF. When excluding outliers, there was a small, positive correlation between per capita GDP and IF (β=0.021, p = 0.03, R = 0.097) CONCLUSION: Language concordance represents a substantial barrier to research equity in neurosurgery, limiting dissemination of ideas of merit that currently have inadequate outlets for readership. Initiatives aimed at increasing the accessibility of neurosurgical publishing to underrepresented authors are essential.


Neurological Surgery