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Here and throughout Brazil

A survey maps the professional path of those who have received FAPESP grants

FAPESP has just completed an unprecedented survey of the profile of researchers who received grants for their scientific initiation projects [undergraduate research], master’s degrees, PhDs and post-doctoral research from 1992 to 2002. Based on a stratified sample of 11,581 researchers that responded to a long questionnaire, out of a total of 47,097 scholars who were given grants during this period, it became possible not only to investigate the demand for funding during this period, but also to track what happened to the recipients afterwards. The map of their professional path in twelve fields of knowledge showed that a significant number of them now work in other Brazilian states, which illustrates the repercussion of FAPESP efforts; some also work in other countries, a sign of the quality of their education.

Most of the recipients (from 70.3% to 83.8%, depending on their field) remained in São Paulo. “This shows that the Foundation’s objective, which is to foster research within the state, is being met,” explains Geraldo Di Giovanni, a professor from the Economics Institute of Unicamp and the survey’s coordinator. He is currently the chief of staff at the Higher Education State Bureau. Nevertheless, a substantial number of the sample’s scholars are now in other Brazilian states. The greatest numbers were in the areas of health, agronomy and veterinary medicine, whose former grantees are distributed across 24 states.

“These results cover both researchers from São Paulo who found professional opportunities in other states and those who came from other states to do their postgraduate studies in São Paulo and later returned to the state they had come from,” says Di Giovanni. The survey was carried out as part of the Results Evaluation System for Development Policies, which FAPESP implemented in 2004 with a view to helping to develop diagnoses of the status of science and technology in São Paulo and for the formulation of public policies in this area. This project had already produced a study, released in 2007, that took an inventory of the entire complex of research equipment in the state of São Paulo.

The area of astronomy and space sciences is the one with the largest ratio of researchers working abroad. 7.8% of former recipients are currently working in teaching and research institutions in Chile, Australia, France or Italy. This is also a field in which there is one of the largest number of former recipients in São Paulo. Given the difficulties in doing research in this field in other parts of the country, former recipients in this field were only found in five states (Bahia, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina) and in the Federal District (Brasilia). As for biology researchers, they showed the second highest percentage of employment abroad: 3.8% of the total is either studying or working in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Belgium, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada, South Korea and Scotland.

In the economics and business administration areas, 14.4% of the researchers who responded to the questionnaire work in eight Brazilian states, besides São Paulo. The curious fact is that most of them are men. As for the area of architecture and urbanism, most of the recipients working in other states in the South and Southeast are women, some of whom are also found in the Federal District (Brasilia) and in the Northeast. The physics researchers are spread over another 14 states and the chemistry ones are in 22 states. The percentage of recipients who managed to publish scientific articles during their post-graduate programs ranged from 66.9% (mathematics) to 87.5% (chemistry).

Striking characteristics
The proportion of men and women who sought FAPESP aid is similar to that of their presence in each field of knowledge, with a larger ratio of men in astronomy and space sciences, economics and business administration, geosciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. On the other hand, women are the majority in architecture and urbanism, agronomy and veterinary medicine, biology, health, the humanities, and social sciences. It was also found that those who applied for FAPESP grants were primarily a set of researchers with very particular characteristics: mainly white, who had completed high school in regular schools, during the day time, and in private schools. Regarding the former recipients’ undergraduate courses, they were mainly graduates of government institutions, which they attended on a full-time basis. Most of the respondents got their undergraduate degree from a state institution, other than in the fields of astronomy and space sciences, in which the largest percentage (45.8%) came from federal institutions – which shows the importance of the Aeronautics Technological Institute (ITA- Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica), in the city of São José dos Campos.

The educational level of the researchers’ fathers, generally speaking, is higher than that of their mothers, although in both cases most had completed high school at least. Only in three areas – geosciences, physics and chemistry – was incomplete elementary schooling the most frequent schooling category of both the father and the mother, as opposed to architecture and urbanism, mathematics, agronomy, veterinary medicine and biology, in which the largest percentage of parents had completed higher education. The area of architecture and urbanism stood out for being the one in which most parents had a postgraduate degree (10% of the total).

The proportion of applications for scientific initiation, master’s degrees, PhDs and post-doctoral grants varied substantially from area to area. In careers in which there are a lot of professional opportunities outside academia, such as business administration, architecture, economics, health, the humanities, and social sciences, the percentages of applications for grants are greater for scientific initiation or master’s degrees, trending down thereafter. On the other hand, in fields such as physics, astronomy and space sciences, and chemistry, professions more closely linked to teaching and research institutions, this demand runs in the opposite direction: there are fewer applications for scientific initiation, and more for master’s degrees and PhDs, and in some cases, for post-doctoral studies.

Geraldo Di Giovanni, the research coordinator, highlights that the survey examined a crucial period for the consolidation of the São Paulo science and technology model, after the state’s 1989 constitution was passed. “The ensuing configuration of this model was based on a sound set of public teaching and research institutions, comprised of three autonomous state universities, two federal universities, specialized institutes and one autonomous development institution with high standards. The investments were decisive in consolidating institutional changes that yielded a notable growth in the state’s academic productivity.”

The questionnaires were answered via the Internet, from October 2004 to early 2007. One of the study’s suggestions is to create a dynamic database to enable ongoing data collection and the production of reports from time to time. “Linked to SAGe [Management Support System], the data can provide FAPESP with perennial evaluation information. And all the information will be available on the Foundation’s site, within researchers’ reach,” states professor Jocimar Archangelo, one of the survey’s respondents.

Decentralized research
The trend toward the decentralization of Brazil’s research groups is growing, according to a new census released by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Updated every two years, the 2006 Directory of Research Groups in Brazil totaled 21 thousand groups, connected to 403 institutions. In 2004, 19 thousand groups and 77 thousand researchers were counted. The South and the Southeast, jointly, posted a 5% growth in their number of research groups; the Midwest and Northeast grew about 17%, while the North grew 21%. The Southeast has 10,592 groups (50.4% of the total), followed by the South with 4,955 (23.6%), the Northeast, with 3,269 (15.5%), the Midwest with 1,275 (6.1%) and the North, with 933 (4.4%). São Paulo state has the largest number of groups (5,678 or 237% of the country’s total). It is followed by Rio de Janeiro with 2,772 (13.2%), Rio Grande do Sul with 2,180 (10.4%) and Minas Gerais with 1,919 (9.1 %). Medicine is the field with the largest number of lines of research: 4,928 out of the 76,719 identified. This is followed by agronomy (4,363), education (4,897), chemistry (3,606) and physics (2,794). Women account for 48% of the total number of researchers, according to the 2006 census, the balance of 52% being men. This ratio has been steadily changing in favor of women at the rate of two percentage points per census. Although 57% of the groups are led by men, women are increasingly holding the position of leader. The institutions with the largest number of researchers are USP, with 8,478, Unesp, with 3,944, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, with 3,694, Unicamp, with 3,253, and the Federal Universities of Minas Gerais, with 3,018, of Santa Catarina, with 2,351, and of Bahia, with 2,091.