News FocusScience in Brazil

Brazilian Science: Riding a Gusher

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Science  03 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6009, pp. 1306-1312
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6009.1306

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Over the past 8 years, Latin America's largest nation has begun to boom. Its economy is growing fast, and it has become a player in world affairs, reveling in an unprecedented bout of self-confidence. It will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics 2 years later. The good times are lifting science, too. Between 1997 and 2007 the number of Brazilian papers in indexed, peer-reviewed journals more than doubled to 19,000 a year. Brazil now ranks 13th in publications, according to Thomson Reuters, having surpassed the Netherlands, Israel, and Switzerland. Brazil's universities awarded twice as many Ph.D.s this year as they did in 2001, and thousands of new academic jobs have opened up on 134 new federal campuses. It's a reversal of fortune for a nation that during the 1990s was beset by dire economic problems. But Brazil is not formidable yet; its scientific output trails its ambitions. The country produces few high-impact papers and only a trickle of patents. Its primary and secondary public education system is in shambles, leaving the nation of 195 million chronically short of technical workers.