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[SÃO PAULO] Brazil's scientific journals are "basically invisible" in the country's media, a conference has heard.

Germana Barata, a researcher at the State University of Campinas, Brazil, attributed this trend to a lack of regard for Brazilian journals among science journalists and poor efforts by publications to reach the media.

Barata was speaking at 'Contemporary Tendencies on Science Communication', a conference held in Minas Gerais, Brazil, last month (22–24 August).

"Based on a survey we have been developing about the number of quotes from Brazilian scientific journals in Folha de S. Paulo [Brazil's most widely read newspaper], I would say that the national [scientific] journals are basically invisible — in five years, just four journals have been quoted," Barata told SciDev.Net.  

She added that the situation regarding Brazil's journals is delicate, as there is increasing competition for investment.

One of the major challenges facing newspaper journalists in Brazil is the uncertainty regarding the evidence published in scientific studies, which can be hard to decipher and sometimes appear to reach contradictory conclusions, Barata said.

But according to Abel Packer, Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) programme coordinator, the articles published in Latin American journals are some of the most read in the world.

"About 80 per cent of Latin American journals are open access, [and] the number of scientific articles downloaded is increasing daily. Nowadays, SciELO has an average of 1.2 million of articles downloaded," Packer told SciDev.Net.

"SciELO has been working with editors and researchers to train them in preparing press releases and using social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Mendeley and CiteULike, [which is] used specifically [for] quotes," he added. 

One good example of scientific marketing is Clinics, a scientific journal edited by the University of Sao Paulo's medical school, said Barata.

"[The university] has invested in improving the journal," Barata said. "It has given it an English title, and hired a public relations firm to disseminate the journal to diverse audiences."

A further seminar to improve communication between scientific journals and national media, 'Introduction to the Use of Social Networking in Scientific Communication', was organised by SciELO last month (21 August), and the organisation plans to hold similar events in the future.

Packer told SciDev.Net: "the aim is start developing a methodology for the formal use of these tools by the scientific community".