The objective was to determine a link between the number of non-English language references in the bibliographies of publications in international pharmaceutical journals and the geographic origin of these publications.
A systematic prospective analysis of 7 international pharmaceutical journals in 2005–2006. All research articles whom corresponding author was a pharmacist were included. For each article, were recorded:
the geographic origin of the corresponding author (classified in: North America, Latin America, Oceania, Europe, Asia, others);
the title of the journal;
the number of non-English language references in the bibliography (classified in: Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, others).
1,568 articles were included, corresponding to 45,949 bibliographic references, of whom 542 where non-English references. North America is the geographic zone of the world with the lowest rate of non-English language references in bibliographies of published articles; significant differences appear between North America and Europe, Latin America and Asia. A sub-analysis by countries shows that United States, United Kingdom, Australia and China present a specific low rate of non-English language references. The two journals with the lowest rate of non-English language references in bibliographies of published articles are edited in the USA.
Despite some limitations, this study shows that pharmacists from regions where English language is the only or predominant language are refractory to include non-English language references in the bibliographies of their publications. The fundamental reasons of this restriction are not clear.