Chapter 34: Why research matters: Latin America facing world-class universities and rankings
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This chapter will discuss the current relationship between the worldwide university rankings and their effects on the publication of academic papers in Latin American countries. This paper will analyse the role of knowledge production in the construction of rankings and prestige. The never ending-inequalities in the region are reflected in the type, volume and impact of the knowledge that is produced in the region. The impact of publications in top journals is one of the indicators taking into consideration in some of these rankings. How much harm or help do the worldwide rankings do to higher education institutions in developing countries in growing their research capacity is part of the current debate. Most academics need to follow the lead by the prestigious and recognized publishers and this creates other problems in their countries and institutions. As part of this debate, it is basic to discuss what are the predominant characteristics of the higher education institutions that conduct worldwide research and how distant higher education institutions in developing countries are. Another key question has to do with what the role of the language of instruction is and the function of publications and the importance of scientific dissemination in different contexts. This paper will use available data on academic production, scientific publications, indexes and university worldwide rankings in order to show some of the most interesting relationships between the knowledge produced in these countries, their possible impact based on traditional bibliometrics data and other possible spaces of influence in the countries. Some concepts such as institutional isomorphism, institutional stratification, inequality, and social justice will be used in the analysis.

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