Russian Investigation Retracts More Than 800 Scientific Papers Due To Issues

In recent news, academic journals in Russia are reportedly retracting more or less 800 papers, after a probe by a commission appointed by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) revealed unethical publication practices.

This move by the commission comes the same time that a number of other queries suggest that the vastness of current Russian scientific literature is plagued with problems, like so-called gift authorship (where an academic becomes a co-author without having contributed anything), plagiarism and self-plagiarism.

According to Gerson Sher, a former staffer at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the author of a  recent  book on U.S.-Russia science cooperation, the RAS commission’s preliminary report documenting the problems of Russia’s current scientific literature and the responses that journals gave to them can be described as “a bombshell.”

“The report, released yesterday, will reinforce the suspicions and fears of many — that their country is not going down the right path in science and that it’s damaging its own reputation,” Sher said, adding that he has nothing but applause for RAS for the investigation.

With a majority of which are published in Russian, Russia’s 6,000 academic journals are popular among the academics of the country. In fact, a study published last year revealed that Russian authors publish more domestic journals than their peers in Indonesia, Germany and Poland. The problem, however, is that standards in the country are low. For example, back in 2018, a network aimed to clean up Russian literature called Dissernet identified around 4,000 cases of plagiarism in no more than 150,000 papers published in only 1,500 journals.

Furthermore, plagiarism detection company Antiplagiat CEO Yury Chekhovich also stated that Russian authors often republish their own work many times over. Back in September 2019, Antiplagiat found that more than 70,000 papers were at least published twice, while there are a number that have been republished for at least 17 times. This, per Chekhovic, is a clear sign of self-plagiarism and is one that should be stopped.

“I hope that our work will not only reduce scientometric distortions, and help us to get rid of garbage publications ,” commission member Anna Kuleshova said.

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