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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.6 no.8 Texcoco nov./dic. 2015



Analysis of scientific collaboration in papers published by the Mexican Journal of Agricultural Sciences. II

Juan Felipe Núñez Espinoza1  § 

Dora Ma. Sangerman-Jarquín2 

Agustín Navarro-Bravo2 

1Posgrado en Desarrollo Rural-Colegio de Postgraduados. Carretera México-Texcoco, km 36.5 Montecillo, Estado de México. Tel: (595) 9520288.

2Campo Experimental Valle de México-INIFAP. Carretera Los Reyes-Lechería, km 18.5. A. P. 10. C. P. 56230. Chapingo, Texcoco, Estado de México. Tel: 01 800 044 22 22 Ext. 85353. (;


The process of generating or build a scientific journal aims to influence the dissemination of the work of researchers of various regions and countries. The objective of this paper was to analyze the importance of the Mexican Journal of Agricultural Sciences, INIFAP, as an instrument of knowledge construction; through social networks. The Mexican Journal of Agricultural Sciences (REMEXCA) is of Open Access Open Journal System (OJS), as manager of editorial processes. The analysis is based on information published by the journal during 2010-2015, groups were categorized as: areas of knowledge, by knowledge source community of employees, main partner institutions with publications, researches agglomeration, by area of knowledge, main collaborating institutions with publications, collaborating countries, linking researchers of other countries, nodal degree in the scientific community partners, social complexity, knowledge network in REMEXCA, nodal degree, reticular complexity, intermediation analysis of reciprocity and trust and click analysis. Some of the conclusions were: a) scientific journals are an important tool to identify and analyze the construction of scientific communities, through their partnerships; b) construction of these communities are made based on inputs of sociability, objective and subjective, with which inputs such as trust, cooperation and affiliation, among others are managed; c) these communities are not unchanging and are continually changing over time; d) analysis of these communities through social network analysis (SNA) as a social intervention approach opens the possibility to explore knowledge management process. The journal has increased 70% in publishing scientific papers, national and international author that are on the National Research System (AS), 70% publish in the journal, of the 10 journals in the agricultural area, found within the catalog of scientific journals of the National Council of Science and Technology, contained within the best national and international levels and, the national and international visibility is one of the best.

Keywords: diffusion; knowledge areas; scientific journal; scientific papers; researchers


El proceso de generar o construir una revista científica tiene como objetivo incidir en la difusión de los trabajos de investigadores(as) de diversas regiones y países. El objetivo de este documento fue analizar la importancia de la Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Agrícolas del INIFAP, como instrumento de construcción del conocimiento, a través de redes sociales. La revista es de acceso abierto Open Journal System (OJS), como gestor de procesos editoriales. El análisis se basó en la información que publicó la revista del año 2010-2015, se categorizaron grupos como: áreas de conocimiento, procedencia por áreas de conocimiento de la comunidad de colaboradores(as), principales instituciones colaboradoras con publicaciones, aglomeración de investigadores (as), por área de conocimiento, principales instituciones colaboradoras con publicaciones, países que han colaborado, vinculación entre investigadores(as) de otros países, grado nodal en la comunidad de científicos colaboradores (as), complejidad social, red de conocimiento en la REMEXCA, grado nodal, complejidad reticular, intermediación análisis de reciprocidad y confianza y análisis de clique. Algunas de las conclusiones fueron: a) las revistas científicas son un importante instrumento para identificar y analizar la construcción de comunidades científicas, por medio de sus colaboraciones, b) la construcción de estas comunidades se realiza con base en insumos de sociabilidad, objetivos y subjetivos, con los cuales se gestionan insumos tales como la confianza, cooperación y filiación, entre otros; c) dichas comunidades no permanecen inalterables y continuamente se van modificando con el tiempo y d) el análisis de estas comunidades, por medio del Análisis de Redes Sociales, como un enfoque de intervención social, abre la posibilidad para explorar proceso de gestión del conocimiento. La revista aumentó la publicación de artículos científicos de autores(as) nacionales e internacionales que están en el Sistema Nacional de Investigadores(as) 70%, de las 10 revistas del área agrícola, que se encuentran dentro del catálogo de revistas científicas del Consejo Nacional de Ciencias y Tecnología se encuentra dentro de los mejores índices nacionales e internacionales, y la visibilidad nacional e internacional es una de las mejores.

Palabras clave: artículos científicos; áreas del conocimiento; difusión; investigadores(as); revista científica


Scientific journals are tools for the dissemination of knowledge and are aimed to the spread, "communicate", results of research conducted by groups of scientists, both theoretically and empirically, in different areas of knowledge. The content of these journals, usually, is aimed at the scientific and academic communities so that we must go through a review process before the publication, and subject to the guidelines of the publishers of such journals. In turn, scientists send their papers to the journals, once they have weighed the quality of a scientific journal, which, according to Aguado et al. (2009), it is based on three factors: its internal review processes and acceptance of manuscripts for publication, the impact on the scientific community and the recognition.

The social construction in scientific communities

Building a human community goes through various phases ranging meaning and dynamics of exclusion-elements-and agglomeration and, necessarily leads to different processes of identification and social cohesion within any social group in question. Some of these elements are extremely difficult to measure, but its concrete aim is such that its absence entails vacuum of sociability itself and the collapse of social systems themselves. Some of these elements are cooperation, reciprocity, solidarity, resilience, friendship, empathy and trust, among others. These elements express a common interest shared and integrated by mutual agreement, so inputs and confidence are vital to the continuity of experience in community. In this direction, according to White et al. (2000), social integration, at any scale, depend... first of interpersonal connections and after the redundancy of such connections Castaingts (1996).

According to De la Rúa (2003), inputs such as friendship are generated daily and are represented at different levels of social reproduction in order to confirm and strengthen the significance of social identity, sharing interests, ideas, common goals, social support at times of crisis, and so on. This feeds interaction processes knowledge and opportunities that are both similar subjects, as with those subjects in their dissimilarity are complementary to the subject in question.

In the above context, the construction of scientific communities experiencing similar screens, so the elements that give place are elements of both subjective and objective character.

Scientific agglomeration, based on the management of social inputs (such as trust, reciprocity, cooperation and solidarity), it is a fact that marks the different academic communities and building knowledge networks, to the extent that the structures of collaboration multiply, diversified and, in the interests of individuals and the environment in which they find themselves. Hence, in reference to the academy can talk about strategic alliances networks, broadcast networks, social networks on the internal movement of academic groups, networks of synergy (personal skills that reinforce and enhance the potential development of new ideas and processes), institutional networks of experts (leading research), information networks, customary networks, among many others.

Meanwhile, in the context of the citation, Milard (2010) indicates the presence of a tendency to homophilia between authors and authors cite its references, from the point of view of discipline, geographical origin or institutional affiliation.

In this direction, Garfield (1996) commented that, the main reasons for citing other works are: a) pay tribute to the pioneers; b) give credit to related works (tribute to colleagues); c) identification methodologies; d) readings provide support, e) correction of own work; f) correct the work of others; g) criticize previous work; h) substantiation reviews and comments; i) indicate future research; j) to provide query paths badly scattered and poorly cited papers; k) data authentication and type of events; l) identification of the original publications in which an idea or concept; m) discussed the identification of the original publications that describe a concept or eponym; n ) refute the work or ideas of others. Other possible reasons, according to López (2010) are knowledge of the language is written work and access to these jobs.

This could observe in collaborative processes expressed through articles in scientific journals published, belonging to areas of knowledge that are critical and strategic for countries like Mexico, that is, the agricultural area. Such is the case of the Mexican Journal of Agricultural Sciences of the National Research Institute of Agricultural Livestock and Forestry (INIFAP).


The database of articles published in the REMEXCA provides the following information: Publication Number (year and number), author, co-author, article title, general subject, institution and nationality.

We proceeded to build a database in mode 1, to which they leant the following attributes (co-author): a) general theme of the article, to group them by areas of knowledge; b) institutions of the authors and co-authors, to discuss inter-agency collaboration; c) nationality, to cross variables institution and nationality; d) year of publication to see the dynamics of publication per year in the general structure and area of expertise.

This lattice complexity that underlies the structure of collaborations in the REMEXCA-INIFAP will display a social structure built around the collaboration and trust inputs: who published therefore, who trusts whom to publish; that is, what kind of social structures they are built on scientific becoming. This structure is capable of being analysed through the social networking approach.

Social Network Analysis (SNA). Structuralist approach that integrates structural perspective of the social sciences, the deterministic perspective of mathematics and visual appreciation of the complex human systems (people, groups, organizations, etc.). In this case, this analysis is poured on the structure of partnerships in the development of scientific articles.

Nodal degree or degree

The nodal degree refers to the sum of all direct ties that has a certain actor (Molina et al., 2006) therefore expresses its position (and potential influence) with respect to other individuals in the social network; therefore, a certain access to the information flow produced in their social group and its level of sensitivity to it. For this work regards the degree indicates the number of co-authorship that each ego has with other nodes. De la Rosa et al., 2005 suggests the mathematical expression for analysing the perspective of the link is:

Where: Aij = matrix linking the nodes "i" and "j"; Di = centrality (degree) of the actor in question

Betweenness degree or intermediation

A widespread assumption in the social sciences is that social structure all actors are potentially linked (Wasserman, 1994; Molina et al., 2006). Thus, this category allows viewing-analyse those actors who possess the peculiarity of linking groups or actors, therefore, important to help or hinder achieving linking actors influence and determine the processes of cohesion of a community influence given. Calculating centrality measure is performed through the following mathematical equality (De la Rosa et al., 2005).

Where: gk= degree of mediation (betweenness); gij=number of geodesic distances (number of links from one actor to another to reach the target actor) from the "i" node to the "j" node; gikj=number of links between "i" and "j" and passing through "k".

Degree of proximity or closeness

Closeness or proximity is a category with which it is able to measure the distance of each node with the rest. I.e., the ability of a node to reach the other nodes of the network, therefore the chances of reaching (and communicatively influence) to others, and have a quick "access" to information circulating in the social structure. Calculating the closeness it is achieved by summing the geodesic (shorter existing social paths) of each node with the rest. This creates the notion of distance allowing, in turn, calculate its reciprocal, i.e. proximity. In this sense, Brandes (2011) mentions that the proximity is the inverse of distance and is calculated by dividing the value "1" of the sum of the geodesic (distance).

Where: dG(v, t)= is the geodesic distance (or Geodetic links - minimum Euclidean distances or routes) between the actor "v" and "t".


In every social structure, there are sub-groups defined by a much stronger cohesion among its members that they may have with members of other groups in the same social structure. For example, in terms of friendships is not unusual for groups defined by identifying elements that established one, the closer (age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, tastes, etc.) and ending in groups very well defined in ARS, known as cliques. In this context, a clique is the maximum number of actors sharing all possible links existing between them (Hanneman et al., 2005); hence the canon of a cohesive group is a clique and properties of such sub-structures are: that is perfectly dense, compact and connected. According to Brandes and Erlebach (2005) one of the mathematical expressions for identification is:

In this context, there would be a clique size k between G.

The Mexican Journal of Agricultural Sciences (REMEXCA)

The process of generating or build a scientific journal aims to influence the dissemination of research results from different regions and countries. For this, protocols and criteria for editing and publication of submitted papers are set. But also, this construction involves a process of linking research communities from different areas of knowledge, from different institutions and countries.

This gives guideline to analyse the process of linking the various authors which opens a complex social universe built based on diversified inputs confidence about the generation and publication of scientific articles in the REMEXCA. This social structure has different angles publications visualization and analysis, as discussed above: agglomerates by researchers working groups by area of knowledge, by institution and nationality; a social structure energized by the management input of trust between the various participating groups (Figure 1) and where researchers from the areas of plant breeding (blue), Rural Development (black), Economics (wine), horticulture (lime stand ) Hydrosciences (pink), Plant Nutrition (white), among others.

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 1 Social Complexity in scientific collaboration in REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

This social structure is nourished by the processes of collaboration between researchers, which gives rise to a series of observations on the dynamics and constitution. In the analysis of the data was observed that there cooperation between researchers in fields similar knowledge but also dissimilar. While most of the generated collaborations between researchers in the same area of knowledge (78.07%), there are also interventions from different areas, for example, between two areas (14.45%), including 3 areas (4.22%) or 4 areas (1.66%) (Table 1).

Table 1 Diversity of areas in collaboration with co-authors. REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

This indicates the presence of cross-fertilization processes of knowledge between researchers, working groups, between institutions and between fields of knowledge. In the data analysed this fertilization is generated primarily from the areas of plant breeding, rural development and biotechnology are the areas that yielded the strongest links (Figure 2) and entomology, soil science and climate change, among others.

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 2 Collaboration between areas of knowledge. REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

In this way it is possible to detect a structure with various levels of centralization where the first four actors have an average nodal degree of 46.5, the next group of 10 actors, is averaging 24.3 nodal degree (Table 2) and the bulk of the population analysed a nodal degree of ≤ 19.

Table 2 Nodal degree (≥ 20) on authors and co-authors of the REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

This has some correspondence with the degree of intermediation calculated as social structure in this unequal distribution of intermediation between social subjects was observed, but with a centralizing trend. For example, only in the case of three actors grades higher intermediation (≥ 1 000) were obtained, another important group constituted actors with a degree of intermediation ranging between 600 and 950 points (Table 3). A third group of 24 actors had average grades intermediation 2 128.

Table 3 Degree of intermediation author and co-authors the REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Making a cut in the quality of the nodal degrees, we only selected those actors with a better or equal to 2 nodal degree, dispensing with those actors who had the character of "political supporter" and considering only those who established communication links in a Central and with a profile of "continuum" lattice. This yielded a more compact but more accessible to analyse and identify more clearly linking processes and reciprocity inside (Figure 3) image.

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 3 Social Communication Network REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). Continuum linkage (degree 2). 

In calculating the nodal degree to this structure, the image obtained can observe the "inside" link, where we can appreciate a more equitable distribution of social prominence and leadership among actors, but also between areas of knowledge, being the present process in these areas of leadership, of plant breeding (blue), hydrosciences (pink) and horticulture (gray) and climate change (brown) (Figure 4).

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 4 Nodal degree (degree 2). REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015). 

Proximity (Closessness)

Reciprocity and trust in REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015)

This social structure, like all the others that are generated in social reproduction are managing systems where subjects, and multiple differentiated way, different types of inputs such complex sociality such as inputs trust established for build communities. In the case of this structure of scientific collaboration (Figure 5) shows a dynamic reciprocity (in red) and confidence (thickness of the link) very particular because although there is a trust, with varying degrees of intensity, including researchers, this is varied and not all in all of them there is reciprocity, despite the trust that might have of each other. Furthermore, this reciprocity is given, preferably where there is a higher density of links, therefore, the actors with dominant degrees.

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 5 Analysis of reciprocity (red) and trust (thickness of the link) with degree between collaborators REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015) (degree ≥2). 

Meanwhile, the intermediation category indicates the ability of some actors to link actors and groups that have a direct link, making them potentially leading questions of legitimacy and power distribution. In this case, particularly in the field of flow of inputs, such as trust and reciprocity, they are managed in a much more locally so having a high degree of intermediation, does not necessarily mean having a high degree of trust and reciprocity (therefore legitimacy).

This is why trust is such a flexible, horizontal input that one can speak of a trust between individuals but also of trust as social pattern. In this direction, in Figure 6 is shown that, the actor with the rank of major intermediation has a certain degree of trust and reciprocity with their peers; however, actors with lower levels of intermediation and greater reciprocity is also seen and even confidence.

Elaboración con datos de REMEXCA-INIFAP.

Figure 6 Analysis of reciprocity (red) and confidence (thickness of the link) with intermediation between collaborators REMEXCA-INIFAP (2010-2015) (degree ≥2). 


One of the questions we sought to answer this research was about the factors that articulate the research system (in the publication of scientific articles) in strategic areas such as rural development and agricultural production. In this direction, although multiple responses were allowed to observe that, as in every social construction, supplies of basic sociability as cooperation, solidarity, trust, reciprocity, and others in the scientific communities prevail. Supplies very difficult to measure but these are quite accurate that such nourishes give rise to the same societal experience. In this sense, the construction of a community (scientific) involves factors including (composition) and exclusion (delimitation) social factors that are constantly changing.

Moreover, scientific journals not only disseminate the results of the work of researchers and research groups, but also help track the way on how it is constructed and is built around an intellectual community input of cooperation, and even if they are an essential element in the construction of the community and the possibility of establishing knowledge management processes to explore new linkages between researchers of different and dissimilar areas presented.

In order to analyse the network structure of collaborations between scientists, who published their work and research results in the REMEXCA, it was observed that this is a lattice structure energized by areas of biological and natural sciences (Plant Science, where values were observed more high partnership, cooperation and trust, biotechnology, entomology, soil science, horticulture, hydrosciences and biochemistry), which are the areas where the main cross-fertilization of knowledge generate. Although, it is noted that the areas of social sciences and rural development and economics and a transdisciplinary area as climate changes in the structure of collaboration.

Regarding the latter, supplies of trust and reciprocity are extremely low; therefore, this could be affecting the capabilities of inventiveness and innovation. This could open up the possibility to innovate and enrich the process of association and integration into scientific communities looking to build synergy strengthened processes and break with the trend of highly atomized benefit, common on the structures of social scientists.

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Received: June 2015; Accepted: October 2015

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