Data collection

The CWTS Brazilian Research Ranking 2014 lists the most productive research organizations (institutes) in Brazil in international scientific journals in the period of 2003–2012. The ranking is based on data from the Web of Science bibliographic database produced by Thomson Reuters.

On this page, a summary of the data collection methodology of the Brazilian Research Ranking (BRR) is provided. It should be emphasized that, in general, the institutions included did not verify and approve their publication data and that publications have been assigned to institutes on the basis of the affiliations mentioned by the authors of the publications. However, the assignment of publications from these affiliations is by no means a straightforward task. An institute may be referred to by many different (non-English) name variants and abbreviations. In addition, the definition and delimitation of universities and other institutes as separate entities is not always obvious.

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Brazilian research organizations

The organizations that appear in the BRR have been selected based on their contribution to articles and review articles published in international scientific journals in the period of 2003–2012. The contribution of an organisation to an article is calculated based on the number of affiliations mentioned in the article. If an article mentions three different affiliations of which two belong to a particular organisation, then the contribution of that organisation to the article is counted as two thirds.

In principal all Brazilian organisations that produce research articles have been taken into account. As we imposed a threshold of 100 articles (fractionally counted) during 2003 – 2012, only the 110 organisations are listed with the highest degree of research intensity. The type of organisations is quite heterogeneous. Public universities constitute the largest category but the ranking also includes research organisations, hospitals, and even a semi public company (Petrobas). The distinction between public, private and special universities is based on the classification of MEC (Brazilian Ministry of Education). Because of the differences in types of organisations, the tasks and missions of the organisations are widely divergent. Naturally, the ranking scores for each organisation should be evaluated in the context of its particular mission and responsibilities. These missions and responsibilities in turn are strongly linked to the Brazilian and regional (academic) systems in which the organisations operate.

In order to identify the different Brazilian organisations, we relied on national experts from Brazil. Publications are assigned to organisations based on their most recent configuration. Changes in the organizational structures of institutes up to 2013 have been taken into account.

Affiliated institutions

A key challenge in the compilation of a ranking such as the BRR is the handling of publications originating from institutions and hospitals associated with the ranked organizations. Among academic systems a wide variety exists in the types of relations maintained by organisations with these affiliated institutions. Usually, these relationships are shaped by local regulations and practices and affect the comparability of organisations. As there is no easy solution for this issue, it is important that producers of institutional rankings employ a transparent methodology in their treatment of affiliated institutions.

CWTS distinguishes three different types of affiliated institutions:

  1. component
  2. joint research facility or institution
  3. associated institution

In the case of components, the affiliated institution is actually part of the ranked organisation or so tightly integrated with it or with one of its faculties or departments that the two can be considered as a single entity.

Joint research facilities or institutions are the same as components except for the fact that they are administered by more than one organization.

The third type of affiliated institution is the associated institution which is more loosely connected to the ranked organisation. This associated institution is an autonomous entity that collaborates with one or more organisations based on a joint purpose but at the same time has separate missions and tasks. In many countries, hospitals that operate as teaching or university hospitals fall into this category.

The treatment of university hospitals in particular is of substantial consequence as medical research has a strong presence in the Web of Science.

In the BRR, publications from affiliated institutions of the first two types are considered as output from the specific organisation. A different procedure has been followed for publications from associated institutions. A distinction is made between publications from associated institutions that also mention the ranked organisation and publications from associated institutions that do not contain an affiliation with the ranked organisation. In the latter case, publications are not counted as publications originating from the ranked organisation. In the event that a publication contains affiliations from a particular ranked organisation as well as affiliations from its associated institution(s), both affiliations are credited to the contribution of that particular ranked organisation to the publication in the fractional counting method.

Data quality

It is important to highlight that the assignment of publications to research organisations is not free of errors. There are generally two types of errors: 'false positives', which are publications that have been assigned to an organization when they do not in fact belong to that organisation, and 'false negatives', which are publications that have not been assigned to an organisation when they should in fact have been. Considerably more false negatives than false positives should be expected, especially since the 5% least frequently occurring addresses in the database may not have been manually checked.