open access

Abstract

The equality of the European Union (EU) Member States is one of the principles that the European Union is based on. However, in terms of the economy, culture and influence, a hierarchy of EU Members States is evident. The European post-socialist or Central and East European (CEE) countries are often perceived as being at the lower end of the scale or on the ‘periphery’ of the EU. The aim of this paper is to gain insights into the specificities of the CEE countries’ legal scientific communication and the visibility of legal scholars’ work within the EU. Bibliometric analysis results show that scientific productivity has been significantly contributed to by papers published in domestic journals indexed in Scopus, with a share of 70%, and that the largest contributions are from Croatian, Romanian, Slovenian and Hungarian law journals. The Baltic States and EU candidate countries, representing nine out of 15 CEE countries, did not have their law journals indexed by Scopus in the period 1996-2013, which influenced their potential accessibility and visibility. The remaining 30% of papers were scattered over 112 international law journals, predominantly from the EU15 countries. On the other hand, the research shows that the recognition of papers measured in terms of the average number of citations speaks in favour of publication in international journals, with 2.9 citations per paper compared to 1.2 in domestic journals. It also shows that the citation of a paper is influenced by the language of the text and whether the paper has more than one author. Thus, although the vast majority of papers are published in domestic journals, the ones published in international journals are distinctly more visible in the academic community. In order to accomplish the integration of CEE countries into EU academic legal communication, the visibility of CEE countries’ legal scholars’ work is crucial. According to the analysis of this research, to achieve visibility, CEE countries’ legal scholars should publish more in a lingua franca, which nowadays means English. The other possible way is to enhance the visibility and strengthen the position of scientific journals published in CEE countries by accepting professional journal standards. Needless to say, the aspect of the content and issues explored and published is also crucial.