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Cad Saude Publica. 2007 Dec;23(12):3041-50.

[Between fetishism and survival: are scientific articles a form of academic merchandise?].

[Article in Portuguese]

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Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rua Leopoldo Bulhōes 1480, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21041, Brazil.


This article discusses the possible meanings of the intense prevailing concern in academic circles over the notion of research productivity, as reflected in an excess number of articles published in various scientific journals. The numerical accounting of articles published by researchers in scientific journals with renowned academic status serves to legitimize academics in their fields of work, in various ways. In this sense, we suggest that scientific articles take on aspects of merchandise-as-fetish, according to Marx's theory of use-value and exchange-value and Benjamin's exposure value. Meanwhile, the biological notions of selection and evolution are used as metaphorical elements in "bibliographic Darwinism". There are references as to the possibility many of the prevailing bibliometric concerns serve as instruments for econometric analysis, especially to orient and enhance cost-effectiveness analysis in research investments of various orders and types, from the point of view of their economic return.

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