I will describe: a) the nationwide program developed by Capes, agency of the Brazilian Ministry of Education, to evaluate and rank the ensemble of graduate courses in the country; and b) the National Research Council – CN
Pq program of National Institutes of Science and Technology – INCT, which supports research networks focused on specific areas of science and technology.
- a) The Capes program has been responsible for enhancing the quality of graduate schools in the country. It is based on peer review and involves regular evaluations that assess the performance of professors and students, with emphasis on scientific production. Those courses that are high-ranking have access to benefits that stimulate a constant search for improvement. The use of international standards of proficiency has been key to providing Brazil with a good-quality graduate school system, which is at the root of a number of S&T success stories in deep-sea oil extraction, airplane construction, automation, technology-based agriculture, and biofuels.
- b) The CNPq program was designed to foster the creation and management of research networks that engage in nationwide collaboration. The networks cover a variety of areas in science and technology and comprise university departments, research institutes, technological institutes, and companies. Regular meetings of researchers, common budgets, and regular evaluations are essential to success. There are more than 120 such networks and their funding is obtained from a cooperative effort that includes contributions from federal and state funding agencies. They are selected in an open national competition on the basis of the scientific merit of the joint research proposals presented.
In both cases, I will try to emphasize the evaluation methods used and the financial arrangements put together to support the programs, give examples of successful outcomes that have benefitted Brazilian society, and try to give a historical perspective of the role of the programs in advancing science and technology in the country. I will also discuss the negative factors that have prevented those initiatives from completely fulfilling their potential and which measures should be pursued to bypass such difficulties.
Both programs have had an important impact in the quest for the internationalization of Brazilian science and technology, a goal which is being pursued for many years, as it became clear to the scientific community of the country that a stronger interaction with partners throughout the world was essential for the advancement of science and technology, as well as for facing the challenge of innovation.