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SMAD. Revista eletrônica saúde mental álcool e drogas

versión On-line ISSN 1806-6976

SMAD, Rev. Eletrônica Saúde Mental Álcool Drog. (Ed. port.) vol.7 no.2 Ribeirão Preto ago. 2011




Scientific knowledge dissemination: challenges and perspectives



Margarita Antonia Villar LuisI

IChief Editor of the SMAD, Revista Eletrônica Saúde Mental Álcool e Drogas, Full Professor of the University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto College of Nursing, WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research Development, Brazil, e-mail:



Nowadays, disseminating their work represents the main challenge for researchers and all of those professionals who intend to share their experiences among peers. After all, the goal of anyone who develops a creative project, whether innovative or not, synthesizes a set of knowledge analytically or describes and discusses an experience report, is also to present his/her work to the academic community, to professionals interested in the theme and to population groups as a whole, with a view to expanding knowledge, encouraging other people to research on a specific topic, and also to submit findings to the critical judgment of other experts on the theme.

It is increasingly observed that publishing is not sufficient. Instead, publishing and being quoted in journals with high impact factors has become a need. Nevertheless, who only publishes material in Portuguese does not manage to get read, and even less cited. Of course language can be an important barrier, but it is not the only one. If this were the case, good translation advice would solve the issue. The issue goes deeper, as authors lack knowledge and training to understand what a scientific paper is and what type of format to use for publications in international journals. Another aspect refers to the contents of the paper, which sometimes reveals a lack of mastery of scientific language, or even a lack of creativity to develop original contributions, remaining limited to the reproduction of previously disseminated knowledge(1).

The non-mastery of English, which is considered the language of science, has hampered foreign international journals’ acceptance of papers by researchers from emerging countries, alleging the need for linguistic review, if not rejected on the first attempt. Thus, to produce science written in that language, researchers without institutional support have limited work capacity, as they will face difficulties to establish partnerships with colleagues from research centers of excellence, located in English-language countries.

Given some knowledge areas’ characteristics, however, interests still center on local issues, favoring the country’s language, Portuguese and Spanish, particularly in Latin America.

When the relevance of the research centers on local issue, this is generally the case due to fact that its aim comprises results, whose expected income is to reach specific populations or communities, helping for example to develop or put in practice public policies.

Despite globalized knowledge, the emphasis on scientific knowledge dissemination on a larger scale, enhancing research on internationally relevant themes, the focus on issues of regional or local interest does not discredit the value of a study. Reading a text that is pleasantly written, reflexive, enhances the internalization of the contents, stimulates changes in attitudes and professional practices, and then results in pure knowledge changes also represent a necessary type of impact(2).

For some specific publics, local experiences can inspire research development in their activity spheres, or arouse aspects previously ignored in past research. Local scientific research results can generate motivations to start or expand scientific communication among researchers and to replicate and deepen locally obtained knowledge.

It is absolutely true that the choice to publish in regional or international scientific studies entails consequences for the research published, as the direction towards the second options grants wider visibility, mainly if the journal has a high impact factor(3).

Authors should make their choice wisely, as they frequently submit their paper to higher-impact journals and, between submissions and returns, between some months and even a year can go by, entailing the risk of losing the present relevance and originality of the contents, depending on the nature of the paper. It is highlighted that, depending on the area, the supply of papers to high-impact journals is large, making them extremely selective.

Scientific journal editors’ central intent is to publish papers they consider of good scientific quality, which add knowledge to their readers and, also, improve the impact of their journal in the scientific community, so as to limit the regional nature and raise the journal to a better academic level, so as to compete with other international journals published in the country and abroad.

The lack of national journals capable of showing the quality of a country’s science represents a bottleneck for its scientific autonomy. Good researchers are impelled to publish in international journals and, thus, face fierce competition with other researchers from the respective countries, as well as the foreign editors’ protection of their scientists(4).

Although any scientific journal serves the reader through the commitment to publish the most interesting scientific advances, since the end of the 20th century, there has been an enhanced trend for editors in so-called developed countries to see academic publications as a means to generate profits, so that the best and most interesting papers have served the publishers’ commercial interests, who want readers to purchase the papers published in their journals(3).

In this not at all neutral context, national scientific journals and researchers face plenty of obstacles. The former fight in search of all kinds of resources to survive (financial, trained technical staff, available and experienced reviewers and original scientific papers), in the same way as the latter find themselves involved in a similar plot, as their academic survival depends on (also financial and technical) resources to develop research and publish the results, with growing requirements in this respect.

To survive, national journals need to make themselves attractive to other readers, even when counting on the guarantee of a group that is more interested in local issues. These journals should aim to broaden their horizons, envisaging other continents, despite the challenge this presupposes.

Essential issues to reach the level of internalization refer to the assessment procedures, which need to be raised to international standards; the professionalization of operations, guaranteeing the presence of international scientists with editorial experience to join the core group of editors-in-chief. The latter’s English skills, experience in a specific research area and influence in the academic community induce to improvements in the journals’ visibility and quality(3).

Another important aspect refers to editorial structures, which cannot remain limited to local researchers, and mainly to a single institution. Responsibility should be shared with other peers, as editorial board members are responsible for setting the guidelines and standards for the scientific studies that are to be published, as well as the criteria that would guide the reviewers’ judgments. The presence of scientists from other countries, where scientific production in the journal’s thematic spectrum is of internationally renowned quality, represents a decisive step towards the target of approaching the journal to the so desired international level(3).

Publishing in English helps to disseminate knowledge, although translation quality remains underwhelming. Nevertheless, good papers are always easier to understand and, in that sense, SMAD has published its two most recent issues in English as well. This effort intends to promote the journal in the international sphere. Therefore, translation costs were not transferred to the authors, which may be necessary in the future.

Further changes are to come, necessary to reach more ambitious goals in terms of scientific quality, creativity and innovation. We want our readers to participate. Contributions can take the form of suggestions of renowned scientists in mental health, alcohol and other drugs to serve as reviewers.



1. Marques F. A barreira do idioma. Pesqui FAPESP. ago 2009;(162):39-41.

2. Porta M, Copete JL, Fernandes E, Alguacil J, Mutillo J. Mixing journal, article, and author citations, and other pitfalls in the bibliographic impact factor. Cad Saúde Pública. 2003;19(6):1847-62.

3. Meneghini R. Emerging journals. EMBO Reports (Print). 2012;13(2):106-8.

4. Rocha e Silva M. O segredo da visibilidade. Pesqui FAPESP. jan 2012;(191):28- 33.


1. Marques F. A barreira do idioma. Pesqui FAPESP. ago 2009;(162):39-41.         [ Links ]

2. Porta M, Copete JL, Fernandes E, Alguacil J, Mutillo J. Mixing journal, article, and author citations, and other pitfalls in the bibliographic impact factor. Cad Saúde Pública. 2003;19(6):1847-62.         [ Links ]

3. Meneghini R. Emerging journals. EMBO Reports (Print). 2012;13(2):106-8.         [ Links ]

4. Rocha e Silva M. O segredo da visibilidade. Pesqui FAPESP. jan 2012;(191):28- 33.         [ Links ]