Researchers based at Russian institutions are more likely to publish in predatory journals if their university leader already does so, according to new analysis.
This story from Russia highlights that tackling a problem like researchers publishing in questionable publishers needs to start with the most senior researchers and leaders to effect change. It also demonstrates that the problem isn’t that hapless researchers are being tricked by predatory publishers, that there are experienced researchers gaming the system of incentives by publishing via the low bar of publishing in questionable publishers. We need to approach this as a research culture issue and focus upon the damage been done by dodgy research.
Trouble at the top
It’s not the first time Russian university leaders have found themselves under scrutiny for poor research practices. In 2020, a report released by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) found that 17 rectors were guilty of publishing plagiarised papers in international predatory journals.
Another similar 2019 probe by the prominent website Dissernet, which tracks research misconduct and questionable research practices in Russia, found that 64 out of 676 rectors at Russian universities had plagiarised their theses. ‘There is indeed an influence of the leadership on how an organisation functions,’ says predatory publishing study author Daria Gerashchenko of the European University at St Petersburg in Russia.