By Ruth A. Pagell*
(6 Oct 2022) Generations ago, when I was in college, I took Russian as my language requirement. In 1979, I had the opportunity to travel to Russia, then known as the Soviet Union with Kiev and Minsk as Russian cities. My college Russian was just good enough to get us to dinner in the home of a Russian family and their friends. We all agreed that the average Russian family seemed to be very much like the average American family. What I took away from that experience over 40 years ago is to separate the people from their countries.
Each organization has a different strategy for finding the balance between helping the people of Ukraine, supporting Russian scholars, and managing their companies’ business interests in Russia. Some organizations have chosen to make no changes, some to make modifications, and some to completely pull out of Russia. How this affects rankers is partly controlled by decisions that are made in the research supply by researchers, international research institutions and funders, publishers, and aggregators. This report provides links to various statements, based on information from the internet and personal emails. Belarus is included in the sanctions.
Researchers and Research Institutions
Any ranking using bibliometrics is dependent on publication and citation data which starts with the researcher. Researchers have been encouraged to engage in multi-national collaborations. Two researchers, one from the UK and the other from Russia, both working at a research institute at Cambridge University, discuss the challenges they are now facing. BBC Science (22 Sep 2022) “Science Collaborations with Russia” Inside Science https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001c6ty
Europe is home to large multination research facilities, often publishing papers with hundreds if not thousands of authors. One of these is CERN, the home of the world’s largest particle physics lab. Since 1954, CERN has served as a bridge between Russia and the West, even in the darkest days of the Cold War. Its motto is “science for peace.” In March, it expelled Russian advisors but allowed Russian researchers on its Swiss campus to stay. Cho, A. (8 Mar 2022). “World’s largest particle physics lab suspends political ties with Russia”, https://www.science.org/content/article/world-s-largest-particle-physics-lab-suspends-political-ties-russia. Three months later CERN announced cutting all ties with Russia and Belarus when their contract runs out in 2024. https://home.cern/news/news/cern/cern-council-cooperation-agreements-russia-belarus
The headline of an article republished in India Today captures the conundrum, “Punish Russia but protect Russian Scientists: CERN ponders response to Ukraine war”. Associated Press (24 Mar 2022). https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/ukraine-war-russia-invasion-cern-large-hadron-collider-nuclear-research-putin-1929005-2022-03-24
Something to think about is that Russia is fourth in the world for publishing articles on nuclear and high energy physics and over 50% of the articles are international collaborations (SciVal data, 26 September 2022).
University World News reported on the International Science Council’s conference on the need for reappraising sanctions against Russia. Mitchell, N. (13 Sep 2022) “Science Sanctions against Russia: Time for a reappraisal?” University World News, https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20220913115708733
The report, Conference on the Ukraine Crisis: Responses from the European Higher Education and Research Sector with key recommendations is available from the Council, https://council.science/publications/ukraine-crisis-responses-from-european-higher-education-research/
The next decision point is with journal publishers. A group of publishers issued the following joint statement:
“We remain committed to the ideals of science and scholarship as a global community. …we continue to publish and distribute manuscripts from authors in these countries in the independent way set out in the COPE guidelines for research which states: ‘Editorial decisions should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors.’ Multi-Publisher Statement (31 Mar 2022), https://mailchi.mp/4851e2a74119/joint-publisher-statement
This is not a binding agreement. Elsevier’s Journal of Molecular Structure has chosen to separate the authors’ nationality from the location in which they are doing research by banning articles published by Russian institutions. This is not an Elsevier policy. Statement from the Editors of the Journal of Molecular Structure https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-molecular-structure/announcements/statement-from-the-editors-of-the-journal-of-molecular-structure
Wiley issued a statement of its own https://newsroom.wiley.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2022/Wiley-Pledges-Support-to-Ukraine-/default.aspx. The statement does not address the business aspects of its relationship with Russia.
Read the fine print to find out how far each organization has said it is going in withdrawing its businesses from Russia. Look for the scholarly support they are providing Ukraine.
Clarivate announced its decision to cease all commercial activity in Russia and to suspend evaluations of new journal submissions from Russia and Belarus in the Web of Science. (11 March 2022). Articles from authors affiliated with Russian institutions continue to appear on the Web of Science. https://clarivate.com/news/clarivate-to-cease-all-commercial-activity-in-russia/
Divisions of Clarivate, such as the library technology arm, Ex Libris, and Proquest are providing resources for Ukrainian libraries and researchers, https://clarivate.com/ukraine-resources/
Clarivate’s subscription Research Professional News reports on the recommendation from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany’s biggest research funder, that its recipients do not publish new papers together with authors at institutions in Russia. The article covers other countries and reports where some research funders have left the collaborations to decide how to approach co-authorship. Silver, A. (16 Sep 2022). German funder recommends ban on Russia coauthorship. Research Professional News. https://researchprofessionalnews.com/rr-news-europe-universities-2022-9-german-funder-recommends-ban-on-russia-coauthorship/
Elsevier (a division of RELX) issued an initial statement 4 March and updated it on 25 May 2022 https://www.elsevier.com/connect/elsevier-condemns-russian-invasion-of-ukraine?SQ_VARIATION_1240637=0. As a publisher, Elsevier is a signee of the Multi-Publisher statement.
Digital Science (Dimensions) statement from CEO Daniel Hook supports international collaboration (25 Mar 2022) https://www.digital-science.com/news/our-support-for-ukraine/
As stated earlier, Russia is a major contributor to scientific research. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the initial conversation was to eliminate Russia from the rankings. THE World Ranking issued its corporate statement on 2 March 2022. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/press-releases/statement-ukraine/. It retroactively greyed out Russian universities’ rankings and scores. They are still visible. There is no click-through to other data.
QS’s CEO and founder Nunzio Quacquarelli issued a statement on 4 April 2022 stating that they are “ceasing any new customer engagement in Russia and pausing active engagement with current Russian customers.” They are offering added support for Ukrainian students. After originally saying they would not rank Russian universities, the 2023 ranking includes them with the current year’s rankings and scores, but not click-through information. Jaschik, S. (13 June 2022).” QS ranks Russian universities contrary to the original plan”, https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2022/06/13/qs-ranks-russian-universities-despite-vow-not
Webometrics as part of the Spanish public system did not issue a public statement. It includes two Russian universities in Crimea, without country affiliation, and ranking Russian and Belarussian universities without individual indicators (personal email, Aguillo, I.F 19 Sep 2022).
The SCImago Research Group has no business relationship with Russian or Belarusian institutions. It states that the information included in its portals, related to the scientific domains and institutions of both countries, reflects the collaborative activity of researchers with others distributed throughout the world. Mau 2022 http://www.scimagolab.com/scimago-rejects-the-war-in-ucraine/
U-Multirank suspends participation of Russian universities (undated) https://www.umultirank.org/blog/U-Multirank-suspends-participation-of-russian-universities/
CWTS Leiden, the source for U-Multirank’s bibliographic data is conducting ranking business as usual (personal email Waltman. 21 Sep 2021)
Springer Nature stops new sales in Russia and Belarus. 31 Mar 2022 https://group.springernature.com/gp/group/media/press-releases/springer-nature-stops-new-sales-in-russia-and-belarus/20270652. As a publisher, it is a signee to the multi-publisher statement.
Lexis Nexis, a division of RELX, CEO Mike Walsh recently announced several efforts undertaken by the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation to support the people of Ukraine in their struggle against invasion by Russia and other initiatives. https://www.lexisnexis.com/community/insights/legal/practical-guidance-journal/b/pa/posts/lexis-nexis-offers-support-to-ukrainian-people-during-invasion-by-russia
USNEWS Global is not making its policy public until the release of USNews Global on 20 October 2022 (personal email, Morse, B. 18 Sep 2022)
IREG Observatory suspends Russian members. 8 April 2022 https://ireg-observatory.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Resolusion-Paris.pdf. It still supports the Russian-based Three Missions ranking, MosIUR.
CONCLUSION: Some of the actions are based on country level policies. Many countries have issued statements of concern. Three countries, China, India, and South Africa support continued research with Russia. Mallapaty, S. et al.(6 April 2022). “The countries maintaining research ties with Russia despite Ukraine. Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00945-3
At every step along the way from the creation of an article to its publication and citations appearing in databases, hard choices are being made. Results of these choices will be clearer as we move in to 2023 publications. We will leave it to the political scientists to evaluate what is the best path to take.
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A. Pagell is emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University. After working at Emory, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii. She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674