Placing articles in the large publisher nations: Is there a "free lunch" in terms of higher impact?
This paper deals with the role of a journal's publisher country in determining the expected citation rates of the articles published in it. We analyze whether a paper has a higher citation rate when it is published in one of the large publisher nations, the U.S., U.K., or the Netherlands, compared to a hypothetical situation when the same paper is published in journals of different origin. This would constitute a "free lunch," which could be explained by a Matthew effect visible on the country-level, similar to the well-documented Matthew effect on the author-level. We first use a simulation model that highlights increasing citation returns to quality as the central key condition on which such a Matthew effect may emerge. Then we use an international bibliometric panel data set of forty-nine countries for the years 2000-2010 and show that such a "free lunch" implied by this Matthew effect can be observed for top journals from the U.S. and depending on the specification also from the U.K. and the Netherlands, while there is no effect for lower-ranked American journals and negative effects for lower-ranked British journals as well as those coming from the Netherlands.