Development of research capacities in the social sciences in Brazil

Posted in conference 


Regina Gusmão


The number of students in Masters and doctoral programmes at Brazilian universities hasincreased more than tenfold and the number of Masters and doctoral degrees granted peryear nearly tripled in the past 10 years. Whereas the number of doctorates conferred in Brazilin the late 1980s had only been 3 per cent of those conferred in the USA, in 2005 Brazil wasamong the top ten countries in the world with regard to the number of Ph.Ds conferred.


The current structure of the Brazilian science, technology and innovation (ST&I) system is relatively new. Most of the higher education and research institutes now in existence, as well as most of the funding agencies, have emerged since the 1950s. Only in the mid-1980s did a complex, multi-institutional, consolidated structure begin to take shape; one capable of performing the tasks of coordinating, implementing and promoting government activities in the sphere of ST&I.


A full understanding is yet to be gained of the employability of those who hold an M.A. or Ph.D. A recent pioneering study charts the key employment characteristics of those who received Ph.Ds in Brazil between 1996 and 2003 (Viotti, 2008). It shows on a preliminary basis that in 2004, 66 per cent of those who received Ph.Ds were employed at educational institutions, while another 18 per cent were in public administration, national defence or social security. Only 1.2 per cent were employed by the manufacturing industries. The study shows that holders of doctorates in the so-called ‘applied social sciences’ had higher rates of formal employment, as well as higher average wages than the others. According to Viotti (2008), this may indicate that the labour market most values individuals with doctorates in law, administration and economics. These are among the ?elds in which postgraduate programmes in Brazil, especially in private universities, have expanded most rapidly in recent years.