The pool of academic journals is growing. Each year, Russia sees the creation of 250 new academic publications, several dozen of which end up dying off. In addition, the quality of fresh publications, and sometimes veteran publications as well, often leaves much to be desired. It is time to create a competitive environment for academic journals, experts say.
This is what the Russian Science Citation Index project aims to do. The project, which began in September, was presented to the academic community at a seminar hosted by the HSE. Competition will allow journals to improve and gain a foothold in the world, according to the project’s organizers, among which are the Scientific Electronic Library (NEB), the HSE, and Thomson Reuters, the developer of Web of Science.
Academic periodicals will be rigidly selected for the new database, according to Oleg Utkin, who is the head of Thomson Reuters' IP & Science division in Russia and the CIS. Out of around 5,000 Russian academic journals (4,500 of which are included in the Russian Science Index), only a thousand of the best will be chosen.
In the first quarter of next year, the project’s top 400 journals will be included in the RSCI list, and in December 2015, experts will confirm the final list of the leading thousand publications, NEB General Director Gennady Yeremenko says. In addition, the database will include not only translated editions of Russian academic journals, but the original versions as well. This essentially allows for possibilities to broaden in the positioning of Russian academic publications.
Additionally, the journals will receive serious upgrades in order to pass ‘entrance testing’ for the RSCI. The ‘admissions council,’ a working group that will evaluate the journals, has been created from academic heavyweights such as the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Higher School of Economics. The deputy chief of the working group is HSE First Vice Rector Leonid Gokhberg, who sees the purpose of the project as being not only to increase Russian journals’ visibility, but also to ‘consolidate the editorial community’ and encourage best practices in the promotion of journals, including international journals. The project will also partly be a continuation of international experience in creating national platforms associated with Web of Science, Gokhberg notes. China, South Korea and a number of Spanish-speaking countries already have such experience.
HSE First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev used publications of the Higher School of Economics as examples of the Russian practice for promoting academic journals. Professor Radaev emphasized the variation that exists in international development trajectories for academic journals. There are, for example, journals that are initially already international, such as the Moscow Mathematical Journal. Another option is releasing the English version of a journal in parallel with its Russian counterpart, but with different contents. Foresight is an example of such a journal. Another option is to neighbor original articles in Russian and English (World of Russia).
Upgrading academic publications and creating competition in this sphere will also be facilitated by HSE’s continuing education programme in academic journal editing. According to Media Sphere General Director Saveliy Baschinsky, this programme touches upon aspects in preparing and promoting academic journals. The programme is based on preparing national leadership for academic editors.