Dynamics of the modern Venezuelan research community profile

  • Requena J
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The main characteristics, human resources, organizational development,
R&D output and outcome of the Venezuelan scientific and technological
community, are studied in depth for three specific dates - years 1954,
1983 and 1999 -, aiming to reveal its strengths and weaknesses and to
establish its dynamics. During the first half of the twentieth century,
Venezuela had no major organized or institutionalized scientific
activity. From 1954 thru 1983, the State built a considerable number of
institutions mostly for research and development activities. Initially,
researchers came from classical professions but were later substituted
by graduates in scientific and technological disciplines. Biomedical and
basic sciences are the areas of knowledge favored by researchers while,
in terms of intellectual creation, social sciences and humanities seem
to be the less productive, despite being one of the fields of knowledge
embraced by most professionals. Although from 1983 on there has been no
major input to the national S&T system, the research community showed a
few years of growth in absolute terms in the number of publications,
however national productivity decreased during the last decade of the
century. It is believed that this reflects an aging, asphyxiated and
self-consuming community using its reserves at a maximum rate. The S&T
system constructed exhibits a dominance of the public sector that
privileged, financially, the hydrocarbon related technological/service
industry at the expense of academic research in universities while
maintaining agribusiness related service and developmental research at
the same level of expenditure throughout the last twenty years of the
twentieth century. While the generation - practically from zero - of a
modern R&D community in Venezuela, together with higher education,
could well be one of the most significant accomplishments of democracy
in Venezuela, this remarkable social achievement has been put in peril
by neglect and changes in public policies. Downturn of the national S&T
system is bound to worsen due to a virtual collapse, on February 4,
2002, of the R&D centre of the nationalized oil industry.

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  • Jaime Requena

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