Assessing Scientific Mobility Dynamics and Impact: drawing on the potential of electronic CV databases

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Author(s)André Pirralha, Margarida Fontes, José Assis
The mobility of scientists has become, in the last few years, a hot topic in the context of highly skilled migrations. Although it is not a new phenomenon - since historically these movements have always been present - there is evidence of the fast growth of scientific mobility as we move towards an increasingly globalised world. Along this process, the asymmetries between countries in terms of mobility flows became more evident. However, the early emphasis on the loss of highly skilled resources by less advanced regions – coined in the “brain drain” concept - is being increasingly replaced by the “brain circulation” approach, which rejects the idea of unidirectional flows and addresses scientific mobility as a complex phenomenon, whose effective role on knowledge production and transmission is still far from being understood. Despite the growing relevance of scientific mobility, researchers are confronted with a lack of reliable data on mobility flows. This led to a search for new methods that would permit to capture the complexity and multidimensionality of the phenomenon. Since mobility increasingly consists of a sequence of events that take place along a scientist‟s career (rather than a one-off move), the analysis of scientists‟ trajectories emerged as a promising methodology, and the Curriculum Vitae (CV) as a rich source of information. In addition, because CVs report career evolution and outputs, they could equally provide information enabling the assessment of mobility impacts.
However, CV‟s have a number of problems, concerning data format, contents and data treatment, that have so far limited their usefulness. The recent introduction of electronic CV databases, which present information in a standardized format and in an electronic support, may contribute to overcome at least some of these problems. The objective of this paper is exactly to use a novel electronic CV database - the Portuguese DeGóis Platform - to explore the possibility of building meaningful mobility indicators and of using them to understand scientific mobility dynamics, as well as to address the impact of mobility upon knowledge production and circulation, both at an individual and at an organizational or country level.
CategoriesScientific mobility