The ‘Qualis’ system (Brazil) in an interdisciplinary-ecological context

A. Begossi About the author

‘Qualis’ is the system used by CAPES (Coordenação de Pessoal de Nivel Superior), the agency that manages Graduate Teaching and Research Production in Brazil, in order to evaluate ‘the quality of the intellectual production of the Graduate Programs’ (CAPES, 2016COORDENACAO DE PESSOAL DE NIVEL SUPERIOR – CAPES [online], 2016 [viewed 10 April 2015]. Available from:
). In fact, ‘Qualis’ support the evaluation system in Brazil that allocates funding to research and to graduate teaching in Brazil.

The ‘Qualis system’, instead of using the current Impact factor of periodicals (Research Gate, 2015RESEARCH GATE [online], 2015. [viewed 10 April 2015]. Available from:
; SciJournal, 2015SCIJOURNAL [online], 2015. [viewed 10 April 2015]. Available from:
; Scimago Journal, 2015 (lets call them IF ) and based on obscure criteria, manipulates the system by creating the levels of impact factors of periodicals as upper (A1), followed by A2, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and C= zero [1]. There are areas in which the periodical does not exist (Table 1). Are ‘Qualis’ levels representative of IF? No. Table 1 shows some examples in areas such as Biodiversity, Environmental Sciences and Interdisciplinary (April 10th, 2015). For example, if you are an ecologist, and you publish in Ecosystems, Ecology and Society, Current Anthropology and Bulletin of Marine Science, you get a zero in production. Observe that the IF of these are, respectively (July 30, 2015), 3.53; 2.67; 2.93; 0.87. Ironically, periodicals with an IF of 0.87, such as the Anais da Academia de Ciências, are considered in the upper strata (Qualis A2). The illustrative Table speaks for itself.

Table 1
Impact Factors (July 30, 2015)1 and CAPES Qualis Impact Factors (Brazil) (from the highest A1 to B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and lowest C; April 10th 2015).

The perverse part of ‘Qualis’ is the punishing of scientists that, in spite of publishing in high international impact periodicals, get a low Qualis impact; worse than that, young Brazilian scientist are following wrong tracks: instead of deciding where to publish, based on their research themes, journal objectives and IF, they end up following the ‘Qualis’ system through the easiest path. For example, by publishing in the Anais da Academia de Ciências (0.87 IF)2 they get an A in all three areas (Biodiversity, Ciências Ambientais and Interdisciplinary). Maybe that could help explaining the relatively low international ranking of the Brazilian Universities. Unfortunately, ‘Qualis’ helps science in Brazil to run backwards.


Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    15 Apr 2016
  • Date of issue
    Apr-Jun 2016
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