Transfer Rules: Graduate Students Make It More Difficult to Earn a Degree

Postgraduate students of some Russian universities had problems with defending their dissertations and obtaining the degree of Candidate of Sciences. Admission to protection often requires scientific publications in journals that are indexed on foreign Internet sites Web of Science and Scopus. The geopolitical situation made this condition impossible, the students told Izvestia. The Higher Attestation Commission (HAC) and educational institutions meet the needs of future candidates of science and allow articles in domestic publications to be dispensed with, but their list is small, and the queues for publication are long, experts say.

“It was recommended to wait until autumn”

Postgraduate students of some Russian universities have encountered a problem that prevents them from obtaining a Ph.D. To qualify for a dissertation defense, they must, among other things, submit scientific publications in specialized journals. The number of articles depends on the direction and university. But the leading universities of the country, as a rule, require at least one material to appear on the pages of journals indexed on foreign Internet sites Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus. Due to the geopolitical situation, it is impossible to do this today, graduate students of Russian universities told Izvestia.
A postgraduate student works on a mass spectrometer at the Center for the Collective Use of Scientific Equipment “Production and Application of Polyfunctional Nanomaterials” of the Tambov State Technical University

— The number of publications depends on what kind of Ph.D. you want to become. For most areas, for example, for technical sciences, medicine, at least four publications are needed, of which two are indexed on WoS or Scopus. In my specialty, it’s easier – only one publication is needed, ”said Christina, a graduate student at a Russian university (name changed at the request of the heroine). – I managed to make it in the Russian indexed edition. You need to understand that there are very few of them, and the queue is built there for several years ahead. The only chance is to get into co-authorship with some professor or doctor. The choice of foreign magazines is much larger.

For safety net and a more impressive author’s abstract, she wanted to make one more article, already on a foreign resource.

– Sent it to the European magazine of the third quartile (rank) at the end of December. For a long time they answered that an article under consideration is a normal practice, usually two months is a minimum. But at the end of February, they simply stopped communicating. I didn’t pedal this story, since the defense itself requires increased attention, all resources are thrown at it, ”the Izvestia interlocutor added.

Kristina also clarified that at her university, “catastrophically few guys” came out to defend immediately after graduating from graduate school.

“Many supervisors have been unofficially advised to wait until autumn, when they can soften or even cancel the requirements for publications on foreign indexed resources, at least for candidates,” the graduate student explained.

Ministry of Education and Science

Another interlocutor of Izvestia is Anastasia, a third-year graduate student. She needs to have three publications, one of which should be published in a foreign edition with WoS or Scopus indexing.

– I prepared two articles in Russian journals, and then, together with the supervisor, we took part in the conference in absentia, reports from which are indexed in WoS. But it still hasn’t received indexation,” she said. — I began to quickly look for the possibility of paid publication, but when they started talking about closing the access of Russian scientists to databases, my supervisor suggested waiting for a reaction and a decision from the Ministry of Education and Science and the leadership of the university.

At the university, Anastasia was told to focus on her third publication in one of the journals or a collection of scientific papers included in the list of the HAC (Higher Attestation Commission). Now she is waiting for the publication of her article.

“Beginners will definitely have to suffer”

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The Higher Attestation Commission has already removed the requirements that provided for the need to publish in journals indexed in Web of Science and Scopus, and this is a great relief for the work of both dissertations, and graduate students, and doctoral students, the head of the Center for Monitoring the Quality of Education of the Institute of Education and Science noted in an interview with Izvestia. Dissertation Council for Education of the National Research University Higher School of Economics Viktor Bolotov. Most universities have also removed the requirements for publication in foreign journals – this is also a step towards graduate students, he noted.

Despite the fact that the portfolio of domestic journals is not very large, the expert added, universities are trying to help their graduate students publish on time.

But the director of the Center for the Economics of Lifelong Education at the RANEPA, a member of the Expert Council of the Higher Attestation Commission for Economic Sciences, Tatyana Klyachko, does not exclude the transfer of postgraduate defenses.

— If a scientist has actively published before, for example, in journals with a high rating in Scopus, then under the new conditions, his article will most likely be taken to a well-known scientific journal quite quickly, although he will have to wait. But beginners will definitely have to suffer. I do not rule out that because of this there will be transfers of postgraduate defenses,” she said.
Postgraduate student of the Department of Biochemistry at the Tauride Academy at Vernadsky Crimean Federal University

According to Tatyana Klyachko, this story, on the one hand, suggests that universities should better “keep an eye” on their graduate students and force them to submit articles to scientific journals earlier. But on the other hand, haste and prodding can damage the entire scientific work, because then postgraduate publications will need to be written already in the first year of study, when there are still no serious developments. This can lead to a situation where they will try to publish everything, the expert concluded.
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– In recent years, the requirements of scientific journals have grown a lot. Because of this, the queues in the publications are very long. Graduate students who need to publish faster often have to pay journals. But keep in mind that, as a rule, garbage publications charge for publication. Accordingly, graduate students who do not have money or want to publish in good journals have to wait a very long time before their work is published,” explained Tatyana Klyachko.

We need to take seriously how to solve the issue of queues: the problem is long overdue, and now it has become extremely acute, the expert emphasized.

Izvestia sent inquiries to the leading universities of Russia and the Ministry of Education and Science with a request to comment on the situation, but at the time of publication no answers had been received.

Anatoly Karpov, a member of the State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education, said that the issue of scientific publications is on the parliamentary agenda – it is being actively discussed. But when an appropriate decision is made at the federal level, he found it difficult to answer.

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