A Global Ranking of Expert Knowledge on Russia shows high Interest in the region

Центр институционального анализа науки и образования

Russia is an important enough country for researchers from a wide range of countries to study Russian politics, economics, history and literature. The European University at St. Petersburg has investigated which countries and universities produce globally sought-after knowledge about Russia, and on the basis of more than thirty thousand academic articles, has developed a scientometric rating of universities and research institutes.

University rankings have become widespread over the past few decades. However, the well-known rankings do not provide answers to questions about the contribution of universities to the research on individual regions. Solving the task of collecting a corpus of scholarly articles about Russia allowed us to create the Global Expertise Ranking based on scientometric data. The ranking results are posted on an online platform that allows one to analyze an organization's contribution to knowledge about Russia.

The data on the number of publications indicate two phases of interest in Russia — relatively steady interest in the 1990s and, since 2008, a consistent increase in the number of studies, with a notable peak in recent years. The annual volume of research on Russia has increased by 45%: from 794 articles published in 1990 to 1,156 in 2020.

Interest in Russia by foreign authors mainly concerns history and political science. They accounted for 38% of publications in 2020. The humanities not only occupy a small share of the total output, but have in fact shown a sharp decline since the 2000s, especially in the fields of art and literature.

Over the 30-year period examined, the country with the largest number of publications was the United States, which accounted for 34% of the world's scholarly production of knowledge about Russia. The second and third places were occupied by Russia with 14% and Great Britain with 12%.

In the 1990s, the number of countries with a noticeable interest in Russia was very small. The studies were mainly conducted by authors from the USA and the UK. By the 2000s, knowledge production had become less concentrated as European countries began to publish more articles on Russia. As a result, from 1990 to 2020, North America's share fell from 63% to 28% of total production; Europe's share increased from 22% to 37%, and Russia's share rose from a relatively low 9% to 23%.

Article citation data show that Europe and North America outperformed other regions by regularly publishing highly cited articles. Although Russia was in third place in terms of the number of published articles, its papers were cited below the global average. However, there has been a positive trend over the last decade.

A total of 75 organizations were found worldwide that had published at least 50 articles in English over the 30-year period from 1990 to 2020. These organizations are located in 11 countries.

The leaders are internationally recognized universities — Harvard, Stanford, Columbia University, Oxford and others. They are mainly located in the USA with about half of the organizations being located there.

Only a few organizations capable of producing international-level research results are located in Russia. Among the 75 organizations with at least 50 articles over the 30 year period that was examined, only four universities are located in Russia - The European University at St. Petersburg, the Higher School of Economics, Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University (individual institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences also stand out in terms of the number of publications).

The project and its results can be found on a separate website and in preprints:

  • Guba, Katerina and Chechik, Elena and Tsivinskaya, Angelika and Buravoy, Nikita, "Global Organization of Russian Studies: Large-Scale Scientometric Analysis of Publications and Citations, 1990-2020" (January 16, 2024). Available at SSRN.
  • Guba, Katerina and Tsivinskaya, Angelika and Chechik, Elena and Buravoy, Nikita, "Global Ranking of Expertise in Russia" (January 16, 2024). Available at SSRN.

For comments, please contact Katerina Guba, PhD in Sociology, Research Director of the Center for Institutional Analysis of Science and Education at the European University at St. Petersburg. kguba@eu.spb.ru.

The Center for Institutional Analysis of Science and Education was opened at the European University at St. Petersburg in 2017. The center specializes in the study of academic organizations (universities and research institutes) and their interaction with the state and society.