For the dignity of the direct doctorate

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By ANTÔNIO DAVID*

Against abusive and capricious criteria defined within universities

It has been common practice, in notices for public competitions and selection processes for higher education in public universities in Brazil, to adopt two criteria, unreasonable and abusive, which have harmed doctors who carried out the so-called direct doctorate, one obtained without the researcher having completed before the master's degree: the requirement of a master's degree for possession in case of approval (sometimes it is required to present the title when registering), and the attribution, in the evaluation of titles, of a lower score to doctors who completed the master's degree. right doctorate in relation to doctors holding a master's degree, considering only these requirements.[1] While the first criterion implies the summary exclusion of doctors who completed a direct doctorate, the second criterion leads to a distortion in the score, which may interfere with the final results.

However, both criteria are abusive, since at least since 2001 the Brazilian academic system has provided for a law doctorate, with a longer duration, and, above all, that admission to a direct doctorate presupposes exceptional academic performance on the part of the student, to the point where it is not necessary to complete a master's degree, as can be seen in all documents and standards that deal with the subject.

This is the case of CAPES Ordinance No. 077/2006, by which admission directly to the doctorate is considered “a recognition of the student’s outstanding performance”. Above all, the use of these criteria is incoherent to the extent that, far from being an external imposition, the direct doctorate has been adopted for more than two decades within the universities themselves, being provided for in their own internal standards, which establish criteria differentiated (more demanding) as a condition for directly entering the doctorate.

There is no doubt, therefore, that the adoption of the two criteria mentioned here is equivalent to punishing merit – a merit that is recognized by the universities themselves. This is why it causes enormous surprise and astonishment that many universities have been ignoring the existence of a doctorate directly in competition notices and selection processes for some time.

For these and other reasons, both criteria were considered illegal by the Judiciary, with consolidated jurisprudence already on the subject.

In 2018, the Federal Regional Court of the 2nd Region granted a doctor the right to enroll in a public competition at the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) even though he did not have a master's degree in the area of ​​the competition and related areas, which was required by the notice. At the time, the Universidade Federal Fluminense pleaded with the Court that the application not be accepted, despite – amazingly – the candidate having a doctorate in the field of competition. Although the TRF-2 decision became final in February 2019, inexplicably the master's degree requirement continues to be recurrent in notices from different Brazilian public universities.[2]

Regarding this requirement, even if the direct doctorate did not exist, it must be taken into account that it is not uncommon in academia to carry out a master's degree and a doctorate in different and not related areas, which in no way makes a doctorate less qualified to higher education in the area in which he completed his doctorate, as everyone in academia knows, with abundant examples of this among scientists and academics of undeniable competence and seriousness.

And, in 2023, the Federal Regional Court of the 3rd Region considered the attribution of a differentiated score, in the evaluation of titles, by the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) to be abusive and illegal in a selection process that took place in 2021, considering only the master's and doctorate degree. Like the previous one, this decision created an important jurisprudential precedent in order to guarantee that candidates with the same qualifications receive the same score, without favoritism. Again, as everyone in academia knows, doctors who completed a direct doctorate are no less qualified than doctors who completed a master's degree (considering only these requirements), that is, they are not half doctors.

It is worth mentioning that the constitutional principle of University Autonomy does not grant civil servants within universities the right to adopt unreasonable and abusive criteria in public competitions and selection processes for higher education – strictly speaking, in no administrative or academic act. University autonomy exists to prevent any powers and interests outside of academic interest from interfering in the university, whether in its administration or in its core activities (teaching, research and extension).

This is a crucial principle for guaranteeing freedom of thought, teaching and research and against obscurantism, single thinking and all forms of abuse, wherever they come from, so that evoking it as a pretext to justify the Using abusive criteria just because the criteria were defined within the university is not only irresponsible, but a true inversion. As Hannah Arendt taught, the source of law cannot be (or should not be) the capricious and arbitrary will of anyone.

The court case numbers are: 0006678-09.2018.4.02.0000 (TRF-2) and 5007231-35.2022.4.03.6100 (TRF-3). The rulings can be viewed directly at the following links: TRF-2 e TRF-3. Decisions can be adopted in other cases, whenever the aforementioned criteria appear in the notices.

*Antonio David He has a PhD in Philosophy from USP and is currently pursuing a PhD in Social History from the same institution..

Notes


[1] This is done by scoring the master's and doctorate items separately and when the points are cumulative. For example, if a competition provides for the award of 2 points for a master's degree and 3 points for a doctorate, doctors who completed a doctorate preceded by a master's degree will receive 5 points, while doctors who completed a doctorate directly will receive only 3 points. There are universities that have established the criteria according to which a doctorate does not score (as it is the title required to register for the competition). This is the case of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) (check Annex V). In some cases in which this criterion is adopted, if there are no points awarded for graduation, a bizarre situation can be reached in which doctors who completed a direct doctorate receive 0 (zero) in their degree. In addition to the aforementioned example of UFSCar, This is also the case, for example, at the University of Brasília (UnB) (see Annex II, Group 1). Other universities, aiming to avoid similar distortion, adopt, for example, the criterion according to which the maximum score for titles is equivalent to the points for a doctorate.

[2] This is the case, for example, of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC). As can be seen in item 2, among the areas in which a master's degree is required, some are for the Assistant A category, in which, by law, entry depends on the candidate having a master's degree as a minimum degree. . I reiterate: minimal. However, in two areas in which the vacancy is for the Adjunct A category (Linguistics, Theory and Methodology of History), in which the minimum degree required by law for admission is the title of doctor, the Notice requires, in addition to a doctorate in area, also the master's degree. It should be noted that neither the Notice nor Resolution No. 05/2019/CEPE (cited in the Notice) establish that the degree required in these cases is the minimum, nor would it make sense, because, if so, why does the Notice in question bring the requirement for two titles, master and doctor, when the minimum degree required by law for the Adjunct A category is a doctorate? Because, from UFC's perspective, in the case of these two vacancies it is not enough for the candidate to be a doctor: he/she must also have a master's degree, which is the same as saying that all doctors in specified areas can compete for vacancies – strictly speaking, take office, in case of approval –, except those who completed a direct doctorate, and only these. Is this reasonable?


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