Environmental Studies

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ecology, impact factor, Mexico, research evaluation, researcher productivity, Sistema Nacional de Investigadores


Governmental spending on science is usually justified by claims that the resulting research will yield benefits for the sponsoring nation. I present policy-analytic and ethnographic research—based on 30 hour-long interviews—of the Mexican ecological research community to explore the structural influence of publication incentives on research content and its relevance to national needs. During a financial crisis in the 1980s, Mexico created a national publication incentive system, the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, to identify and reward scientists producing the most and the most-cited research as defined by dominant international scientific norms at the time. The system has increased productivity but in the process has undermined that country’s ability to benefit from its ecological research by surrendering priority setting to the editorial preferences of journals that are linguistically and financially unavailable to potential domestic users. The Mexican experience has implications for institutions worldwide that utilize quantitative productivity measures in researcher evaluation.

Publication Title

Science and Public Policy

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Science and Public Policy, scx054, https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scx054

© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License