Sharp rise in premier papers from Brazilian universities

University of São Paulo, Brazil.

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University of São Paulo, Brazil.

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As a rough assessment of Brazil’s contribution to high-impact science from 1980 onwards, we analysed the number of papers published in Nature and Science from three of the country’s leading universities. We found a dramatic increase in their publications in these prestigious journals over the period.

We combined publication counts for the University of São Paulo, the University of Campinas and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. To track the long-term trend in their performance, we sampled counts every decade from 1980 to 2010 and for 2017. During the 5 individual years we sampled from this span of 37 years, these institutions together published 0.08 papers, on average, in each edition of the two journals (details available from authors on request).

Although this is low compared with averages amounting to about 1.5, 0.6 and 0.5 papers per edition from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the UK universities of Cambridge and Oxford, respectively, the total number of papers from the Brazilian universities increased by 2,200% from 1980 (1 article) to 2017 (23 articles). The rise has been steepest during the current decade (from just 7 papers in 2010), despite Brazil’s economic crisis that started in 2014.

This overall increase, in our view, reflects the intense research activity and resilience of the Brazilian institutions, which all have a strong history of international collaboration. Now more than ever, governmental commitment to science is crucial for our future research performance.

Nature 556, 309 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-04634-y

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