Analysis and Projections of Physics in Chile
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In the present work, an assessment of the Physics research capacity in Chile is presented. For this, the period between 2000 and June 2005 has been studied. In this period almost 200 physicists have contributed to scientific production in terms of ISI publications. Amongst these 200, ~160 correspond to theoretical physicists and only ~40 to experimental physicists; ~178 are men and only ~22 are women. A more detailed analysis shows that ~160 physicists have at least one appearance in ISI publications per year considering the last 3 years. Ten years ago, a similar criteria (at least one appearance per year in ISI articles, considering mobile three-year periods), the number of active physicists in the Chilean community was estimated at 70. Therefore, the Chilean active physicists’ community has doubled in 10 years. There exist 20 centres in which scientific research is developed: 18 university centres, a government institute and a private institute. As regards scientific productivity, both as related to disciplines or research areas, and well as in relation to research centres, it is found that, generally, scientific production, in a particular area in Physics or in a research centre, is directly related to the number of corresponding researchers; that is to say, the percentage of the national productivity in an area or research centre corresponds to its share in the total number of physicists in the country. A geographical analysis shows that 50% of the productivity corresponds to Santiago and 50% to the rest of the country. The impact of the different funds for research is assessed, also: FONDECYT, Presidential Chairs and large projects and centres of excellence. According to Physics researchers opinion, Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (FONDECYT, National Fund fro Science and Technology) has become the best instrument to support researchi activities in Chile. However, the amount of projects awarded has practically not been increased, which is insufficient for a community that has doubled. Likewise, even 50% of the productivity corresponds to regional centres, only 35% of projects coming from FONDECYT are awarded to the regions (away from the metropolitan region). Regarding experimental Physics, this represents 20% of the community in both, researchers and productivity of the community. However, in the regular FONDECYT contest in 2005, only 2 projects (10%) were awarded in experimental Physics, which is undoubtedly insufficient. The study also includes a brief analysis according to social appraisal of Physics, dissemination activities to other areas of national living, and relation of Physics with the productive sector. Finally, some recommendations are made: - To create a special fund for experimental Physics in the regular FONDECYT contest. Complementarily, experimental Physics should be one of the priority areas for the technological and scientific development of the country. - To duplicate the amount assigned to Physics in the regular FONDECYT contest. - To create a system that allows increasing the salaries of the researchers in Physics so they could be assimilated to other professional salaries in our country or at an international level. Not only demands must be globalized but also the benefits.