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Pesquisa Fapesp, 20 years

n 1963, a report by the Royal Society on the emigration of scientists sparked a public debate over so-called brain drain. Half a century later, international mobility among scientists is still an object of debate fueled by reports and studies. Initially restricted to people with a background in science and technology, the term currently covers those with a high level of formal education who moved abroad due to better work conditions, pay or life quality. The cover feature of this edition is the scientific diaspora discussed in the academic literature.

Scientists in Brazil have historically experienced a low level of mobility. In the 1970s, a study conducted by the sociologist Simon Schwartzman indicated a tendency towards isolation, with few researchers leaving Brazil to study or work abroad and many who did returning home. This lack of mobility is partially explained by the favorable conditions offered by the national science and technology system, which offers incentives that make up for temporary instabilities.

Initially viewed as having a negative impact on the country of origin, research has shown that mobility has positive effects. When mobilized and engaged by their countries of origin, emigres can offer important contributions in creating transnational networks of scientific cooperation and promoting local development agendas, as evidenced by studies in India, China and South Korea. Accumulated knowledge suggests that if emigration occurs with the objective of having a different work experience—and not due to lack of options in the scientist’s homeland—and the country of origin knows how to take advantage of the opportunity, there are national and individual gains to be made.

In 1989, the governor of São Paulo signed a decree guaranteeing stability and financial autonomy to the three state universities, USP, Unicamp and Unesp. In a series of articles, Pesquisa FAPESP identifies the genesis of this arrangement in the context of Brazilian redemocratization after the end of the military dictatorship that ruled from 1964 until 1985. The articles highlight the significant advances in the subsequent thirty years: USP, Unicamp and Unesp feature among the most relevant research universities in Brazil according to international excellence rankings.


In October 1999, the Notícias FAPESP news bulletin became Pesquisa FAPESP magazine, broadening the science communication mission initiated four years earlier by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). Two decades later, communicating the outcomes of science produced in the State of São Paulo and in Brazil in an accessible form to a wide audience remains equally valid and necessary.

Pesquisa FAPESP is acknowledged as a high-level science journalism publication. Every month, it offers its readers news articles based on scientific research and technological innovations developed in Brazil and by Brazilians in all areas of knowledge, as well as features on science policy and good scientific practice. At the same time, Pesquisa FAPESP highlights the science behind daily news. The print English edition comes out three times a year with a selection of features originally published in Portuguese. The website features English versions of all articles published in the monthly version in Portuguese, available at

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