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Fiocruz Editor discusses challenges of Brazilian journals


Marina Lemle (HCS-Manguinhos)


Professionalization, financial sustainability and internationalization are the main challenges of Brazilian journals, mainly in the area of the history of science and health, according to scientific editor of the journal História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, Marcos Cueto. He drew a panorama of scientific publication in the area in Brazil for an audience of editors of scientific journals from different nationalities gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the symposium "21st Century Challenges for Journals of the History of Science and Medicine, held last Monday (July 24). Organized by Cueto and by the editor of Medical History Sanjoy Bhattacharya, the symposium is a part of the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, held until 29 July, 2017, and has as its central theme science, technology and medicine between the global and the local.

Cueto was the first speaker of the day, with the conference "Achievements and Challenges of Journals in the History of Science in Brazil; internationalization". The editor of HCS-Manguinhos presented the journal, which will complete 25 years in 2019, has level A1 (the maximum) in Capes' (federal funding agency) evaluation and is one of seven academic journals published by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, all of open access.

He explained that most of the Brazilian history journals are financed by public universities and are part of the open access portal Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), created in 1998. Among the SciELO's criteria for the inclusion of journals in its database, there are the publication of original researches, peer review, format, punctuality, modernization of management, the use of a digital platform and increased rate of rejection.

The editor pointed out that journals differ in the way they deal with the challenges of professionalization, sustainability and internationalization. According to him, since 1990, the number of journals and articles has significantly grown. However, quotations in international journals are few when compared with mainstream journals, but a lot in developing countries, especially among history journals.

The purposes of the journals are, therefore, to increase their visibility and international impact, explained Cueto. For that, a target of 15 and 30% of foreigners in editorial boards, such as reviewers and authors, and articles in English, is projected. The bet is that most of the articles in English will come from English speaking countries, and that Brazilians will submit articles in English, which will lead to more downloads and quotations. Cueto has mentioned as a reference article Publish or perish: the effect on the rate of quotation to use other languages other than English in scientific publications, by M.S. Nitetti & J.A. Ferreras (Ambio, 2016).

According to Cueto, bilingual articles are still few in SciELO, but have increased from 13% in 2011 to 17% in 2015. "Young investigators from the United States and Europe do not submit articles for developing countries, unless peripheral countries, such as Portugal and Spain, and investigators who work on topics like Brazil," he said.

According to Cueto, the goals run counter to local academic traditions resistant to modernization, such as: lack of budgets and professional staff; the existence of many new journals with few financial resources; the resentment of authors with critical reviews; the lack of contact of professors with foreign investigators; the non-encouragement of linguistic ability in graduate programs; and the preference of historians who dominate English to publishing abroad.

To publish abroad, pointed out Cueto, the Latin American author faces international academic traditions: his /her manuscripts are subjected to a stricter review process; when the article is published, it generally has few citations; we should understand citation practices and criteria of relevance, argument, prestige of the journal and the author and the professional and personal relations.

The editor remembered that there is no long-term funding in Brazil. The support from CNPq and Capes are annual and are threatened with the crisis of 2015. "Most journals depend on public funding through the universities to which they are related to," he said. He argued that the funding agencies should create ways to provide long-term support to publications.

Cueto ended his presentation proposing a more flexible editorial policy, with more articles with simultaneous publication in Portuguese and English, and changes in graduate education, with more emphasis on the work of scientific writing in English at the graduate level. "How do make investigators think in English?", he asked. He also encouraged alliances with neighbors, "the outskirts" of Western Europe and Latin Americanists everywhere and emphasized the importance of increasing solidarity and promoting a global discussion on global scientific publication.

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