Over the last ten years, the University of São Paulo has been responsible for 22-26% of all Brazilian scientific production, according to data retrieved from international records, such as the Web of Science. In the same way, different international ranking systems invariably place USP as the most productive university in Brazil and occupying the first or second place in Latin America.
In order to enhance the impact of its scientific production both in Brazil and abroad, it is necessary to counter the trend towards fragmentation of its research groups, which has been increasing with the growing number of researchers and a weak connection with the productive and public sectors. Many interventions are needed to change this scenario. One of them is the reorganization of scientific production within the university which can no longer be dictated by the logic of divisions in scientific disciplines, but rather by an emphasis on relevant, current issues, allowing for the association of researchers with complementary competencies and clearly defined proposals, and taking into account the many outcomes originating from scientific activity – publications in scientific journals, human resource development, transfer of technology to the productive sector and government, patents, etc.
The Dean’s Office implemented a Research Support Program as a stimulus for our researchers to organize according to a logic of themes that are relevant to society, either in terms of practical products or in terms of possibilities of a decisive influence on prime scientific issues. The stress is on relevance, not the area of knowledge to be supported. This program is conducted by the Provost’s Office for Research, the Provost’s Office for Post-Graduation Studies, the International Cooperation Commission – CCInt, and the General Administrative Coordination - CODAGE.
This is a complementary research funding; for the most part, resources for research at USP come from external sources (such as FAPESP, CNPq and FINEP), as well as the university’s own budget. Resources channeled through this program are employed in fostering the organization of synergic research groups, developing qualified human resources, and countering the centrifugal force paradoxically created by the growth of competitive and highly specialized research groups. This funding is also a stimulus to groups in an organizing stage and with a potential for innovation and prospects of success.
The program’s success is reflected in the 122 proposals involving two thousand USP researchers submitted to the examination of an external multidisciplinary commission; the commission, as well as recognizing the worth of a number of them, selected the 43 proposals summarized here as deserving financial support from the Dean’s Office. This program, from the internal discussion stage to public notice and assessment by an external commission, reinforces USP’s determination to assess, promote, interfere with and influence the scientific production of its staff without curtailing their freedom of initiative, and promoting quality at the same time.
Marco Antonio Zago
Provost for Research