Academic dependency: the influence of the prevailing international biomedical research agenda on Argentina’s CONICET

Mercedes García Carrillo, Federico Testoni, Marc-André Gagnon, Cecilia Rikap, Matías Blaustein: Academic dependency: the influence of the prevailing international biomedical research agenda on Argentina’s CONICET. In: Heliyon, vol. 8, 2022.


The prevailing health and biomedical sciences (HBMS) research agenda, not only determined by leading academic institutions but also by large pharmaceutical companies, has been shown to prioritize the exploration of novel pharmacological interventions over the study of the socio-environmental factors influencing illness onset and progression. The aim of this investigation is to quantitatively explore whether and to what extent the prevailing international HBMS research agenda and the key actors setting this agenda influence research in non-core countries.
We used the Web of Science database and the CorText platform to proxy the HBMS research agenda of a prestigious research institution from Latin America: Argentina’s National Research Council (CONICET). We conducted a bibliometric and lexical analysis of 16,309 HBMS academic articles whereby CONICET was among the authors' affiliations. The content of CONICET’s agenda was represented through co-occurrence network maps of the most frequent concatenation of terms found in titles, keywords, and abstracts. We compared our findings with previous reports on the international HBMS research agenda.
In line with the results previously reported for the prevailing international agenda, we found that terms linked to molecular biology and cancer research hegemonize CONICET’s HBMS research agenda, whereas terms connecting HBMS research with socio-environmental cues are marginal. However, we also found differences with the international agenda: CONICET's HBMS agenda shows a marginal presence of terms linked to translational medicine, while terms associated with categories such as pathogens, plant research, agrobiotechnology, and food industry are more represented than in the prevailing agenda.
CONICET’s HBMS research agenda shares topics, priorities, and methodologies with the prevailing HBMS international research agenda. However, CONICET's HBMS research agenda is internally heterogeneous, appearing to be mostly driven by a combination of elements that not only reflect academic dependency (the adoption of the prevailing research agenda by non-core research institutions) but also local economic determinants associated with Argentina’s place in the international division of labor as an exporter of primary goods.

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