English “now the dominant language of science” in Latin America


English has become the dominant scientific language in Latin America, with the use of Portuguese by Brazil-based authors in particular declining, according to a new study.

According to the report from the Institute for Scientific Information of Clarivate, articles in Portuguese now represent less than 15% of Brazilian production in the Web of Science database of indexed research, up from nearly 30% in 2009.

Even in the SciELO research database, which was created to facilitate scientific communication in the region, the share of Brazilian production in Portuguese fell from around 70% in 2009 to well under half in 2020.

Spanish-language research has declined less: although its share of Web of Science articles among the output of countries like Argentina and Mexico has declined in recent years, the proportion in SciELO has remained relatively stable.

However, English search has overtaken Spanish and Portuguese to become the most used language in SciELO, with almost 20,000 articles indexed in 2020, compared to around 17,000 in Spanish and less than 9,000 in Portuguese.

“English has become the dominant ‘lingua americana’ of science,” the report says, with “growing international collaboration” and the benefits of “providing access to research results to a global network of researchers.” key driver of the trend.

At the same time, the report states that such a collaboration is focused on working with researchers outside of Latin America – in particular the United States, Spain, Germany, France, the United Kingdom. United and, increasingly, China – collaboration in the region being “uniformly weak”.

It indicates that regional collaboration as a share of research output for Latin America was less than 2% in 1981, but only increased to around 3.3% in 2020. It was even lower than the Middle East, another region of the world that has struggled to foster local collaboration.

Even in Brazil, the most collaborative country in Latin America according to the report, out of 127,400 articles involving collaboration, 10,000 had a regional co-author, but only a quarter of them were written solely in Latin America.

Jonathan Adams, chief scientist at ISI, said it was “of great concern” that research collaboration in Latin America remains so weak given the common challenges facing countries in the region. Similar to the Middle East, he suggested regional funding coordination could help the situation.

“The creation of a regional research organization has significant potential benefits to enable increased growth of research, training and capacity building to address challenges common to the entire region,” he said. he declares.

“The European research framework has undoubtedly spurred achievements and is a model that could work just as well in Latin America. “

Despite the findings on the collaboration, the report finds that research results in Latin America have grown faster than in most other regions of the world over the past 40 years, with articles indexed on the Web of Science increasing by more than 20% since 1981.


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