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A Latin-American Mini-Scorecard

A Latin-American Mini-Scorecard

In Central and South America, more data shake up the rankings

In an effort to expand our coverage of biotechnology and to provide a deeper understanding of a specific region, we modified our analysis methodology for Central and South America. On the Scientific American Worldview Scorecard, we only analyze countries that appear in particular objective sets of data, which excludes many nations in this zone. Nonetheless, using data from the Network for Science and Technology Indicators Ibero-American and Inter-American (RICYT), we built an innovation index that includes 17 countries—only four of which are on the full Scorecard.

This modified analysis employs the same broad methodology as the Scientific American Worldview Scorecard. Every country’s performance on each metric is normalized from 0 to 10, where the highest-scoring nation gets a 10, and the lowest-scoring one a zero. Then, we take the average of all of a country’s scores (ignoring any metrics for which we have no data), and normalize it on a scale from 0 to 50. As in the Scorecard, the normalization is unweighted, meaning that we do not dictate which factors are more important than others.

Output indicates the number of granted patents in a country plus its publications in the BIOSIS index. We use BIOSIS, rather than MEDLINE, in order to search beyond human health–related biology applications. Intensity captures a country’s science and technology expenditure per GDP. The Workforce metric provides the number of researchers per 1,000 workers, while Education measures the total doctorate graduates per million people.

Interestingly, although Brazil scores first on this mini-Scorecard, it placed lower than Chile and Mexico on the broader Scientific American Worldview Scorecard. This might reflect the “advantage” that we intentionally give to countries for which we do not have data. Rather than assign these nations a zero score for categories in which they lack statistics, we simply ignore the missing information in our analysis. Indeed, some countries would rank lower on the Scientific American Worldview Scorecard if all data were available. For example, the overall Scorecard contains figures for low biotechnology patent activity in Brazil and Mexico, but no data for Argentina or Chile. Furthermore, this Latin American mini-Scorecard measures far fewer elements than the full Scorecard, so we encourage you to take into consideration the impact of data gaps when evaluating both Scorecards.