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Nursing research in Spain: bibliometrics of references of research papers in the decade 1985–1994


Carmen Pardo, Escuela Universitaria de Enfermería, Campus Universitario, Edificio ‘Benjamín Palencia’, 02071 – Albacete, Spain. E-mail:


Nursing research in Spain: bibliometrics of references of research papers in the decade 1985–1994

Background. Spain is one of the few European countries to have recently totally incorporated the study of nursing into the university sector. Bibliometric studies may be of a great help for the consolidation of nursing research.

Aim of the study. The aim of this paper is to describe bibliographic references in Spanish nursing research papers and their evolution over a decade.

Method. The method consists of a retrospective bibliometric study of a sample (cluster sampling) of 622 research papers (original papers and review papers), which were contained in the Spanish nursing journals Enfermería Científica, Revista ROL de Enfermería, Enfermería Clínica and Enfermería Integral, and published from 1985 to 1994. The journal Nursing Research was selected for qualitative comparative purposes. A series of classic bibliometric indexes were used.

Results. The mean of references per paper is 10·64 ± 10·42; this increased over time (< 0·001). Review papers have more references (< 0·001). Price index (percentage of references published during the last 5 years) is 44% and the Insularity (percentage of references published in same country as the article) is 55%. References to journals predominate (58·6%), with a growing tendency for references to Spanish nursing journals, although they are still scarce (18·1% of the references to journals). Spanish is the language of most of the references (60·3%), the second language being English (36·1%).

Conclusions. Bibliographic references in Spanish nursing research papers are scarce and not very specific: this happens both in regard to Nursing Research and to publications in other national and international science areas. However, there is an increasing tendency of references (including references to nursing journals) in the period analysed. The age of the references places Spanish nursing in an intermediate position between the ‘hard’ sciences and the humanities; and, according to the type of documentation used, we find it halfway between experimental and natural sciences, and technologies and social sciences. There has been a slight increase in references in English in recent years.