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Positive balance

The number of Brazilian publications on genomics grows apace

The advance of genomic research has had a positive impact on the evolution of the indicators of Brazilian scientific production.  Between 1998 and 2003, the number of papers on the issue, published in indexed international scientific periodicals, grew 72.4%.  In percentage terms, this evolution was comparable only to the performance in the United States and the United Kingdom, with their long tradition of investigation into the genome.  In Italy, France and Japan, for example, the pace of growth in the publications was far lower: it grew between 37.6% and 44.6%.

This evolution was observed by Rogério Meneghini, the research coordinator of the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) –, and a scholar in scientometry – following a comparative analysis of the performance of 11 countries in the Science Citation Index of the database of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), made public by National Science Indicators.  The Brazilians’ performance came as a surprise: in 1998, Brazil occupied the last place in publications on genomics in the ranking of these countries. At the time, the pride of place was France’s. He also notes that then greater part of the Brazilian publications is related to the researchers carried on by the Organization for Sequencing and Analyzing Nucleotides (Onsa), sponsored by FAPESP.

In absolute figures, the United States maintains a clear advantage over the other countries, with more than 20,000 articles published last year.  The United Kingdom,   Japan and Germany contend for the third place, with something like 4,500 articles published; followed by France, with 3,887; Italy, with 1,565: and Brazil, with 508.  But the country is giving strong signs of having consolidated competency in genomic investigation, according to Meneghini’s analysis.

The expectation is for the growth in the number of publications also to be reflected in the number of citations, another indicator normally used to measure the vigor of a country’s research activity. The conclusion of the sequencing of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium, for example, published in Nature magazine in July 2000, has already totaled 200 citations, according to Meneghini reckoning. “This is a significant figure, given the short space of time”, he concedes.  And the sequencing and the comparison of the genomes of another two bacteria, Xanthomonas citri and Xanthomonas campestri, also published in Nature, in May 2002, had a great repercussion amongst researchers and now enjoy 60 citations.