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Prominent among the 500 biggest

Usp ranks fifteenth in volume of publications in the leiden ranking, but its impact is still limited

The university of São Paulo (USP) ranks 15th in the list of the 500 biggest universities in the world in volume of publications, one of the indicators of ranking prepared by the center for studies in science and technology of the university of leiden, in the netherlands. In this list, the state university of campinas (Unicamp) ranks 161st and the Federal Universities of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Minas Gerais (UFMG) and Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) rank 193rd, 317th and 442nd, respectively. “It’s not surprising that USP is in this position,” says USP’s dean of research, Marco Antonio Zago. “If brazil is the thirteenth country in volume of publications and USP is responsible for 23% of Brazil’s production, it’s only natural that we are in a prominent position in a ranking of this type,” he stated.

The leiden ranking offers a collection of lists that classify universities according to various criteria, using as a reference point the web of science database. In addition to the indicator per volume of publications, there is another that measures impact. In this category, which is based on the number of article citations, there are no Brazilian universities in the first group. UFRGS appears in 391st position, USP in 452nd, ufmg in 458th, UFRJ in 463rd and unicamp in 465th. “Increasing the impact is the great challenge that USP and the other brazilian universities face,” says Marco Antonio Zago. “We already publish a lot; now we need to increase the relevance of our production. This is going to be achieved not just by seeking to publish in journals of greater impact, but above all, by improving the quality of our research, which today is still fragmented. Through synergies between groups of various disciplines, for example, we can contribute in an even more relevant way,” he says.

Other indicators from the leiden ranking deal with volume and impact data in such a way as to remove the biases created by the size of the institution or by the fact that it specializes in certain fields of knowledge. In one of them, which multiplies the total number of publications by the impact in each field of knowledge, USP ranks 71st, Unicamp, 285th, UFRJ, 321st, ufmg, 394th and UFRGS, 488th. When the criterion is the number of citations divided by the average impact in each field of knowledge, UFMG ranks 463rd, USP, 467th, Unicamp, 478th, UFRGS, 480th and UFRJ, 482nd.

030_BarreiraIdiomaThe Unicamp dean of research, Ronaldo Pilli, states that the performance of his institution in rankings, in addition to its academic excellence, is related to the effort being made to lend a degree of visibility to its scientific production. “It’s possible to improve this visibility. In some fields of knowledge, there is still a certain resistance to publishing the results of research in english, using the argument that the interest is regional. However, good research into violence in schools in brazil, for example, may be of interest to a foreign researcher who is studying bullying,” he stated.

In other rankings, the position of Brazilian institutions varies, although USP and Unicamp occupy the first positions. In the latest academic ranking of world universities (ARWU), from Shanghai’s Jiao Tong university in China, USP appears among the 150 best universities in the world and unicamp is ranked between the 201st and 250th best; UFMG, UFRJ and Paulista State university (Unesp) are among the 400 best, whereas UFRGS is among the 500 best. In another well-established ranking, from the times higher education, which combines bibliometric criteria with the number of nobel prize winners in each institution and an opinion poll taken among scientists worldwide on the weight of each university, USP appears in 232nd place and Unicamp in 248th.