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French lag in scientific research on organic farming: a scientometric approach

MOURET, J-C. ; HAMMOND, R. ; BAYOT, M. ; FABRE, D. and THOMAS, C. (2009) French lag in scientific research on organic farming: a scientometric approach. [Faiblesse de l’effort français pour la recherche dans le domaine de l’Agriculture Biologique : approche scientométrique.] Carrefours de l'Innovation Agronomique, 4, pp. 363-375.

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Online at: http://www.inra.fr/ciag/revue_innovations_agronomiques/volume_4_janvier_2009


France suffers from a large research deficit in most areas related to sustainable development and public health. The case of research on organic farming, within the framework of the broader sector of agronomic research, constitutes a largely under-investigated field. Even if the demand for organic products is rapidly growing in Europe, research in this field still suffers from a lack of funding and researchers.
A bibliometric analysis based on key words from scientific publications (in English only) taken from Thomson Scientific’s ISI Web of Science reference database made it possible to determine sufficiently relevant indicators for a comparison of national research efforts from 2000-2006, and to therefore assess actual research priorities in the area of organic farming. Beyond traditional specialisation analyses, the ratio between the world share of publications of a given country in organic farming and its world share of publications in specific disciplines and sub-disciplines (according to the nomenclature of the French Observatory for Sciences and Techniques) allowed us to obtain these prioritisation indexes that act as policy and priority (or prioritisation activity) indicators for research institutions involved in the concerned area. An index above 1 indicates an over-specialisation, whereas an index below 1 indicates an under-specialisation.
For the period 2000-2006, the European Union obtained a specialisation index of 1.52 in the area of organic farming, compared to 0.68 for the US, 0.98 for Brazil and 0.18 for China. However, this seemingly satisfactory average for Europe as a whole hides important disparities between European countries. Moreover, France is at the very end of the classification for all indexes with only 0.47 specialisation, compared to Germany with 1.19, Italy with 1.39, Austria with 2.78, Sweden with 3.99, Finland with 4.46 and Denmark with 12.19. The prioritisation index for organic farming in comparison to the discipline, “Applied biology and ecology”, is 1.65 for the EU27, 0.69 for the US, 1.7 for Germany, 3.98 for Austria, 3.84 for Finland, 9.45 for Denmark and 0.49 for France. In comparison to the subdiscipline, “Agriculture, plant biology” the index is 1.5 for the EU27, 0.98 for the US, 1.61 for Germany, 3.28 for Austria, 1.52 for Finland, 9.79 for Denmark, and 0.41 for France. Finally, for the sub-discipline, “Agro-food”, it is 1.86 for the EU27, 0.73 for the US, 1.98 for Germany, 6.92 for Austria, 7.39 for Finland, 9.39 for Denmark and 0.58 for France.
These results confirm that research on organic farming is largely under-prioritised in France. The French national research effort is therefore far from meeting the ecological and economic challenges facing agriculture in the 21st century.

Summary translation

La France est la première puissance agricole européenne et le troisième marché pour l'alimentation biologique. Pourtant elle ne se situe qu'au 25ème rang mondial en terme de pourcentage de la surface agricole consacrée à l'agriculture biologique, et importe plus de la moitié de sa consommation. Un fort développement de la recherche en ce domaine est réclamé par les associations afin de répondre aux défis écologiques, économiques, énergétiques et sociaux posés à l'agriculture du XXIème siècle. Quelle est exactement la place consacrée à l’agriculture biologique dans la recherche agronomique des différents pays européens ? La reconnaissance de la pertinence de l’agriculture biologique comme domaine de recherche par l'INRA depuis 1999 a-t-elle conduit à une meilleure priorisation de la recherche en agriculture biologique ? Une analyse bibliométrique par mots-clés des publications scientifiques recensées dans la base de données ISI Web of Science de Thomson Scientific permet de construire des indicateurs suffisamment pertinents pour une comparaison des efforts de recherche nationaux sur la période 2000-2006, et ainsi de juger du niveau de priorisation réel de la recherche en agriculture biologique. Les résultats obtenus confirment le retard de la France, et sont à mettre en relation avec le manque de soutien institutionnel, de moyens humains et financiers consacrés à l’agriculture biologique au sein des organismes en charge de la recherche agronomique française, et ce, malgré les ambitions affichées.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:organic farming; scientometrics; bibliometrics; specialisation; prioritisation.
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Research communication and quality
Research affiliation: France > Other organizations
Related Links:http://www1.montpellier.inra.fr/dinabio/
Deposited By: PENVERN, Servane
ID Code:15500
Deposited On:02 Mar 2009
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:39
Document Language:French/Francais
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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