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Jornal Vascular Brasileiro

versão impressa ISSN 1677-5449versão On-line ISSN 1677-7301

J. vasc. bras. v.7 n.4 Porto Alegre dez. 2008

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1677-54492008000400001 

EDITORIAL

 

Why do Brazilian vascular surgeons publish so little?

 

 

Ricardo C. Rocha MoreiraI

IDirector of Publications, SBACV.

 

 

Publish or perish – this assertion reflects the reality of academic life in many countries, especially in the USA. In those countries, academic professional survival depends on a continuous flow of papers and communications that are accepted for publication in scientific journals. The professor or researcher that does not submit the results of his or her studies for publication is condemned to oblivion from the academic setting. This is a fact of life and could not be otherwise, according to the logic of scientific progress.

The science that has been transforming medical practice over the last decades was entirely built out of original contributions published in scientific journals. In other words, data generated from research, which are initially presented in scientific meetings, become valid only after formal publication. If Fleming had not published his observations on the bactericidal properties of a fungus, or if Watson and Crick had not published their crystallographic studies on nucleic acids, the world would not take notice of the importance of their contributions. These are of course exceptional examples that earned their authors the Nobel prize and scientific immortality. But even the mortals that comprise the great majority of scientists and researchers only contribute to the advancement of knowledge if the results of their studies are published. Contributions, either minor or major, are only acknowledged by the scientific community after publication.

In the current issue of J Vasc Bras, Yoshida et al. published an original article that shows the large discrepancy between the number of papers and panels presented in SBACV congresses and the number of publications resulting from such studies.1 Out of a total of 1,108 papers and panels presented in two SBACV congresses, only 70 (6.23%) were subsequently published. Such percentage of publication of previously presented studies is extremely low when compared with the average publication rate in developed countries, which ranges between 34-66%, according to the literature following the paper.1 The study by Yoshida et al. confirms the impression all members of the Editorial Board of J Vasc Bras have of our scientific production: Brazilian vascular surgeons produce many studies, but publish very little. This problem has been the subject of other J Vasc Bras editorials.2,3

A curious observation is that, while the production of original articles is low, the publication of books is surprisingly high. From 2006 to 2008, 11 books on vascular surgery and/or angiology were published in Brazil, from general textbooks (such as that by Maffei and Brito) to specialized books (on varicose veins, vascular trauma, lower limb ischemia, endovascular surgery, phlebology, etc.). Those 11 books contain 685 chapters, nearly three times the number of articles published in journals over the same period (data obtained by the author for the Brazilian Reference Index of Angiology and Vascular Surgery). It should be mentioned that the editorial quality of those books is excellent, comparable with that of foreign books.

The scientific production of the Brazilian vascular community seems to be quite reasonable taking into account presentations in medical congresses and clinical meetings. Why then such a large discrepancy between the number of presentations in congresses and the number of publications? The author proposes two possible explanations for the causes of such discrepancy:

The value of scientific publication in Brazil

In contrast with developed countries, where the publish or perish policy has always prevailed, in Brazil the publication of scientific articles has lesser importance in an academic resumé. Analysis of resumés publicly posted at CNPq Lattes Platform shows that publication of studies in journals is less important than other activities, such as presentations in meetings, management positions and other academic titles. The fact is that in Brazil there is little institutional pressure for continuous publication throughout the academic life. Such pressure is even lower in public institutions, where employees are tenured after 2 or 3 years in the job. Lately, research funding agencies have been attributing higher value to publications in peer-reviewed journals with higher impact factors. The new policy should substantially increase the number and quality of Brazilian scientific publications in years to come.

The size of the vascular academic community

Brazil has a large number of medical schools (172, according to the last survey by the Brazilian Medical Association) and more than 70 residency programs in Vascular Surgery and Angiology. The number of teachers and scientists involved in vascular teaching and research is difficult to know for sure, but it should exceed 500 professionals. The problem is that only in a few universities in the State of São Paulo there are full time academic professionals. For the vast majority of vascular surgeons, teaching and research are hobbies, to which they dedicate a few hours a week, often without any pay. As clinical activity demands so much time and energy, little is left for sustained scientific production. Therefore, the small number of publications reflects the size of the truly professional vascular academic community in the country.

The fact that Brazilian vascular surgeons publish so little has raised a debate in SBACV Board. At the meeting three proposals were presented to encourage publication of more articles in J Vasc Bras:

1. Discounts on (or free) enrollments for the SBACV Congresses for authors of articles published in J Vasc Bras over the 2 years preceding the Congress;

2. Free enrollment for the main authors of the 10 articles with the highest number of downloads in SciELO;

3. Papers applying for special presentations (which are canditades to congress awards) should be submitted with complete text, as if they were submitted for publication. The articles selected for special presentation will be automatically accepted as original articles in J Vasc Bras.

The Editorial Board of J Vasc Bras hopes that these and other measures will encourage Brazilian angiologists/vascular surgeons to submit for publication papers previously presented. This way, the quality of the vascular scientific production in our country will become visible to the world.

 

 References

1. Yoshida WB, Holmo NF, Corregliano GT, Baldon KM, Silva NS. Publicações indexadas geradas a partir de resumos de congressos de angiologia e cirurgia vascular no Brasil. J Vasc Bras. 2008;7:293-7.         [ Links ]

2. Yoshida WB. A nossa produção científica invisível. J Vasc Bras. 2005;4:113.         [ Links ]

3. Yoshida WB. Temas livres versus publicação. J Vasc Bras. 2005;4:319-20.         [ Links ]

 

 

No conflicts of interest declared concerning the publication of this editorial.

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