It is hard to believe that directors of institutes and rectors of universities do not understand that the usefulness of foreign publications “for our country” is not determined by journals’ belonging to “enemies” or “friends”. This is not a language of science at all. Indeed, it is quite a different language – that of national interests. Therefore, I tell myself: it is our choice. These people have taken it upon themselves to destroy – and very quickly – the modest but valuable things created in previous decades.“We will need new journals”
I suppose that the new sovereign system will require new journals.
In today’s Russia there are extremely few journals that publish academic articles in the fields of comparative political science and international relations, especially when taking into account how big the country is.
There are national journals, such as Polis
and Political Science
; there are also bulletins of different universities, which mainly publish their “own manuscripts”, i.e. papers written by scholars at these universities.
I would assume that the paths of political science and international relations will diverge: political science is unlikely to need new journals, but international relations will become fashionable, since “correct” explanations of the world and the place of Russia should be fully aligned with “national interests”. Taking all this into account, new journals will be needed.
Meanwhile, creating a good (or merely decent) academic journal is an extremely difficult and time-consuming task. Even if the government gives the “green light” for new journals, there are things that cannot be accelerated.
Among such things is finding a pool of reviewers – experts who, in a normal system, read submitted manuscripts and write substantive reviews. Traditionally, they do it for free, guided by the desire to maintain the quality of the journal.
In Russia’s sovereign system, such motivation is not effective. More likely, reviewers will check manuscripts for compliance with the “national interest” and assess how “useful” they are.Impact on postgraduates
Such a system would have an immediate impact on postgraduate education, not so much because postgraduates cannot publish their articles abroad, but because they have expended significant time and effort preparing for interacting with global peers. I have always told my PhD students: first write in Russian (because it is your native language and it is easier to use it when you are just learning to write); then practice the skill of writing, following the rules of academic style and the structure of presenting research findings (hypotheses-theory-methods-empirics-discussion of results); only after can you submit a manuscript to an English-language journal.
Who needs this now? In fact, the situation will not become easier, but scarier. I see PhD students as one of the primary groups that will be disadvantaged if the new system is implemented.
Who are the winners? The majority will win – they always do. Among them are Russian teachers and researchers who, for various reasons, have not trodden this difficult path; those who published “absence of research” papers or nothing at all. This is their time.
And I would like to repeat: this situation has been consciously chosen by academic functionaries and administrators who readily abandoned international criteria for assessing scientific activity and in so doing sent a disastrous signal to postgraduates and young scholars.
Russia’s limited “capital” will quickly disappear. It is evaporating every day as talented people leave the country. Within the country, there is no one to support it.Irina Busygina
is a professor in the Department of Applied Political Science at National Research University-Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg. The full text can be found here
. Republished with the author’s permission.