2011 Update: Cut-and-dry Facts about the Russian Science Visibility.

from Konstantin Chebotaev, International Projects Manager,  Medical Center for Information and Analysis of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Unlike most industrially-developed countries, where 70% of the science funding comes from non-state sources, 70% of all Russian science financing comes straight out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Russian science budgetary allotments doubled in 2001-2011. It did not seem to prevent most vital science  markers from plummeting in the same decade.

It was no wonder a number of Ministries wanted to take a long hard look at what was going on. In 2010, the Federal Laws 738 and 770 established a plan to sort all medical educational and scientific establishments into three groups – the advanced, the average, and the weak. The main criteria became publication activity (WOS, Scopus, and the Russian Citation Index), innovation potential, and the creation of intellectual property.
Here are a few hard facts as we saw it (more focused on the Russian medicine):

  1. Overall National Science dropped to positions 13 in world publications and 21 in citations, 126th is the general position of the science globally. That is the digression from the 3rd world position in 1980 and the 7th in 1995.

  2. We are publishing, but hardly anyone is interested. Out of the 395 Russian medical journals, only 190 have the impact-factor over 0 (Russian Citation Index).

  3. The overall mass of Russian scientific publications globally 2001-2011 is 2,67% compared to the leader’s 30,51% (USA).

  4. Russian share of the global scientific links distribution 2001-2011 is 1,29% compared to the leader’s 45,60% (USA).

  5. Russian share of articles with high citation rates 2001-2011 is 1,04% compared to the leader’s 56,77% (USA).

  6. The absolute leader in Russian science is, surprisingly, not from the mathematics or physics domains. It is proudly the Russian Research Institute for Experimental Medicine (North-West Dpt. of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, St. Petersburg). (ESI)

  7. The face of the Russian science, based on the number of the world’s research fronts with high rates of Russian article citations, is clinical medicine, preceded only by physics and followed with a big gap by chemistry. That means that one of the first nominees for extra R&D funding is the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, as assessed by the world’s most advanced science analytics inventory in 2011. (ESI)

  8. Russian medical research fronts (with Russian high citation articles) amongst all research fronts in different domains take the 4th place, preceded by physics, astronomy, and all geo-sciences.

  9. Worth paying attention for international investors: Russian Academy of Medical Sciences organizations that lead in research in global science fronts: Russian Research Institute for Experimental Medicine (11 clusters), Russian Blokhin Oncology Scientific Center (11 clusters), Orekhovich Institute for Biochemistry Research (9 clusters, including 2 distinctive competencies), Research University of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences (7 clusters). (SciVal)

  10. The absolute individual citation rate leaders in Russian science represent molecular cytogenetics and the neuroscience (Vorsanova S.G and Yurov Y.B.)

So how do we tell who is to get support and who to cut from state financing altogether? The 3-year-old methodology for assessing scientific organization activity includes 100 criteria. The Russian Academy of Science added another 50. Yet another 30 were added by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Publications, patents, commercialization, investments, industrial sector R&D commissions, material assets, staff potential, financial stability and educational activity are just a few examples.
It would have been a progressive move. Feedback from the science leaders is alarming, though. This mass of criteria will result in yet another stream of write-offs, they say. In any case, hardly possible to be done within the given time span – 2011-2013.  Their concern is also deep ignorance of the existing and emerging analytical tools of the last decade – Essential Science Indicators with its metrics for research fronts, InCites for scientific org and individual scientist identification and assessment, Research in View for individual department assessments, SciVal Spotlight that spots virtual scientific collaboration groups and divides science into clusters. Perfect time to notice THOSE, as, after what seemed like a scrupulous analysis, Russian methodology-based assessment nominated the above mentioned St. Petersburg institute as "weak” (?). 
The well-known Academic Georgiev’s verdict is that individual departments of scientific organizations should be the object of assessment, not the whole organization. Research programs for Science Academies should be developed. 25% of all science budgeting (10 billion RUR) should be allotted for the following specific tasks:

  1. Support for the most scientifically active departments.

  2. Establishments of the new departments for new research fronts.

Knowing what is really going on in science is not an easy task in any country. If Russia wants to reverse this trough trend, we had better roll up our sleeves and get at it, including asking the world for competent advice.  Please leave comments for me to update on the assessment dynamics in further blogs.

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