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Agency in the broadest sense

This May 23, FAPESP celebrates its 60th anniversary. Established in the São Paulo State Constitution of 1947, the São Paulo Research Foundation was founded in October 1960 and began operating a year and a half later. The pioneering institution is the largest state science and research agency in Brazil, serving as a national and international benchmark.

It operates simultaneously on several related fronts, one of which is to communicate scientific knowledge to society. Established in part to promote and support the publication of research results, FAPESP created a virtual library that contains the abstracts of every project funded by FAPESP throughout its history (more than 320,000). Agência FAPESP was created to share news about FAPESP’s work, the results of research it has funded, and upcoming events. The clear importance of communication also led to the creation of Pesquisa FAPESP in the 1990s.

The magazine’s objective is to increase access to scientific research results in Brazil, as well as the people, institutions, and processes involved in science. The understanding that accountability is necessary but insufficient for a science and technology funding agency explains FAPESP’s commitment to publishing a title dedicated to accuracy without losing sight of the readers’ perspective. Every month, the team seeks to repay this trust by producing quality content of interest to the public.

As a result of their impact and recognition, several of the foundation’s initiatives have served as inspiration for other agencies. Some examples of this are presented in one of the articles related to FAPESP’s sixtieth anniversary. The international reach of Brazilian science, an objective that the agency has actively pursued in recent years, is presented in a report on foreign researchers who have come to Brazil for postdoctoral fellowships. Finally, there is a guide to the events and publications related to this commemoration, which will continue until the end of this year.

The desire to cover not only research results and discoveries, but also topics related to Brazilian scientific and technological institutions and policy was officially incorporated into Pesquisa FAPESP in 1999. That year, the magazine was restructured into four main sections, one of which was science and technology policy. Fabrício Marques, who has been in charge of this section for the last 14 years, wrote this issue’s cover story on the current landscape of Brazil’s postgraduate system.

After growing solidly for more than 20 years, the number of PhDs being awarded in Brazil has dropped. The pandemic is partly responsible, but there are other factors involved. There has also been a decrease in demand for graduate courses. There are currently around 4,600 master’s and doctorate programs offered nationwide, which are responsible for most of the country’s research, carried out by thousands of researchers. Some of the points discussed include questions on whether the number of master’s degrees and doctorates awarded annually needs to continue rising, the issue of quality, the integration of programs, and new course formats.