1. bookVolumen 7 (2022): Edición 3 (August 2022)
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Implications of Publication Requirements for the Research Output of Ukrainian Academics in Scopus in 1999–2019

Publicado en línea: 12 Aug 2022
Volumen & Edición: Volumen 7 (2022) - Edición 3 (August 2022)
Páginas: 71 - 93
Recibido: 07 Jan 2022
Aceptado: 13 Jul 2022
Detalles de la revista
License
Formato
Revista
eISSN
2543-683X
Primera edición
30 Mar 2017
Calendario de la edición
4 veces al año
Idiomas
Inglés
Introduction

This article aims to explore the implications of publication requirements for the research output of Ukrainian academics in Scopus in 1999–2019. As such, the study contributes to the knowledge about the qualitative and quantitative aspects of research evaluation policies (Abramo, D’Angelo, & Felici, 2019; Abramo, D’Angelo, & Grilli, 2021; Csomós, 2020; Butler, 2003; Schneider, Kaare, & Bloch, 2016; Korytkowski & Kulczycki, 2019; Kyvik & Aksnes, 2015; Vanecek, 2014; Vanecek & Pecha, 2020). Initially, Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) included journals from western states, most of which have been top-ranked journals. Thus academics from these states have a long tradition of publishing in Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals (Nesvetailov, 1995). Consequently, publications in Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals have been considered the proxy of research quality, and non-western states have adopted policies requiring academics to publish in these journals (Csomos, 2020; Good et al., 2015; Grancay, Vveinhardt, & Sumilo, 2017; Kulczycki, 2017; Kuzhabekova & Ruby, 2018; Nazarovets, 2020; Olechnicka & Płoszaj, 2019). However, the earlier studies highlighted that the quantitative criteria in research evaluation policies can be achieved through publications in journals of low impact (Butler, 2003; Demir, 2018; Korytkowski & Kulczycki, 2019; Vanecek & Pecha, 2020). Thus the national research policies should prevent this unintended consequence. This issue is crucial for the countries that do not have a long-lasting tradition of publishing extensively internationally because their publication requirements were nationally-oriented for a long time (Hladchenko & Moed, 2021).

Ukraine is one of these countries. Though, in the last years, Ukraine claimed to have aligned its higher education system with the Bologna Process, the remnants of the Soviet model still persist. Ukraine has preserved the two-level systems of doctoral degrees and scientific titles. In some EU countries, habilitation (Switzerland, Germany, Poland) can be viewed as the second doctoral degree. However, while in Ukraine, the second doctoral degree is about writing a second doctoral thesis, in the EU countries, it is about summarising research done after PhD research that indicates the scholarly level of academic required for promotion to professor. Moreover, Germany has developed a career path alternative to habilitation. There are also countries that abolished the second-level doctoral degree e.g. Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and Croatia. Ukraianian academic, having been awarded a doctoral degree and a scientific title, also receives financial bonuses that ensure a life-long extra payment to the salary. After 1991 publication requirements for doctoral degrees and scientific titles included publications only in Ukrainian journals but in 2013 articles in foreign journals or Ukrainian journals indexed in international databases were introduced into doctoral publication requirements (Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sport of Ukraine, 2012). In 2016 publications in the Scopus-and WoS-indexed journals became compulsory for the scientific titles of associate professor and professor (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 2015). In the following years publications in Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals were introduced into the criteria for the attestation of higher education institutions (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 2018) and the allocation of the state funding for research (Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 2019).

This study explores the implications of publication requirements for the research output of Ukrainian authors in Scopus in 1999–2019. Three metrics were elaborated to analyse the quality of research output: publications in predatory and local journals and publications per SNIP quartile from the disciplinary perspective.

Literature review
Bibliometric indicators in research evaluation policies

The quality of publications which refers to publishing in the highest-ranking journals, has been an indicator of academic performance for decades in Western countries (Hicks, 2012; Opstrup, 2017; Toutkoushian et al., 2003). In the late 1980s, this tendency was reinforced due to a widespread introduction of market mechanisms aimed to enhance the accountability and effectiveness of public research as well as due to the increased role of public research in the development of knowledge societies (Aagaard, 2015). Journals indexed in WoS and Scopus are assumed to support a quality level. Since the 2010s, research evaluation policies based on bibliometric indicators related to publications in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals have diffused from the Western states to Central and Eastern Europe (Csomos, 2020; Good et al., 2015; Grancay, Vveinhardt, & Sumilo, 2017) as well as former Soviet states (Kuzhabekova & Ruby, 2018; Matveeva et al., 2020; Moed, Markusova, & Akoev, 2018; Nazarovets, da Silva, & Nazarovets, 2019; Nazarovets, 2020;).

Central and Eastern European countries differ in terms of research evaluation policies. In the Czech Republic, journals with a high impact factor have been favoured in the research funding system since 2010 (Good et al., 2015; Vanecek, 2014). In Poland, in 2012, WoS articles were introduced as a separate category into the list of journals for publications in which the points are awarded in the performance-based funding mechanism and since 2018, also Scopus-indexed journals are counted in the Polish system (Kulczycki, Korzeń, & Korytkowski, 2017; Kulczycki & Kortykowski, 2018; Pölönen et al., 2020). In Slovakia, academics have become obliged to publish in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals since 2013 because of accreditation requirements (Grancay, Vveinhardt, & Sumilo, 2017). Lithuanian universities set their own publishing policies. In 2012–2013 many of them required academics to have publications in WoS-indexed journals, preferably outside Lithuania. Some universities considered Lithuanian WoS-indexed journals to be of lower quality than foreign WoS-indexed journals. Universities differ in their recognition of either WoS or Scopus or both. In Estonia, universities set their own requirements for promotion to professor. Contrary to the situation in other countries, in Latvia, publishing a paper in international research journals was already in the 1990s a requirement for obtaining a professorship. However, universities on their behalf enforced stricter rules requiring articles in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals. In Hungary, in 2015 Scopus was taken as the main source for updating the list of journals eligible for promotion to full professor. However, there is also a separate list of Hungarian journals that qualify academics for a promotion.

Former Soviet states that do not have EU membership also introduced research evaluation policies based on bibliometric indicators related to publications in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals 2010s, for example, Ukraine (Nazarovets, 2020; Nazarovets, da Silva, & Nazarovets, 2019), Russia (Matveeva et al., 2020; Moed, Markusova, & Akoev, 2018) and Kazakhstan (Kuzhabekova & Ruby, 2018).

Publication requirements are related to financial incentives. However, it is known that academics are motivated not only by financial rewards but also strive to discover knowledge and receive recognition from the scientific community (Merton, 1973; Shinn & Lamy, 2006; Baldini, Grimaldi & Sobrero 2007; Göktepe-Hulten & Mahagaonkar, 2010). Andersen and Pallesen (2008) revealed that the employees’ acceptance of the criteria of the performance-related schemes, rather than the size of the financial package, is crucial for the effectiveness of the financial incentives. In their study on Danish universities, pay supplements range from 1 to 10% of the basic pay. Lam (2011) also revealed that the practices of academics from five major UK research universities were determined not only by financial rewards but reputational and intrinsic reasons. Meanwhile, the degree of recognition achieved leads to financial rewards such as better-paying positions and research funds (Stephan, 1996).

Negative effects of incorrect research evaluation policies

Research evaluation policies requiring publications in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals being formulated inappropriately can have multiple negative effects. Firstly, the findings on Western countries (Butler, 2003; Kyvik & Aksnes, 2015; Schneider, Kaare, & Bloch, 2016) as well as on the Czech Republic (Vanecek, 2014; Vanecek & Pecha, 2020), Poland (Korytkowski & Kulczycki 2019), South Korea (Kim & Bak, 2016), Indonesia (Rochmyaningsih, 2019) and Turkey (Demir, 2018) indicate that to avoid the deterioration in the quality of publications, the publication indicator model should give extra weight to publications in the most prestigious journals. This approach prevents the distortion in publishing patterns of academics as an inappropriate bibliometric indicator can lead to an increase in publications in journals of lower impact (Butler, 2003). Moreover, there is a great number of so-called predatory journals which use an open access model to obtain financial gains without providing the expected publishing services and quality (Butler, 2013; Beall, 2015). Journals indexed in Scopus are considered reputable scientific journals. However, indexing alone “sometimes means no more than the journal has a publicly available description of the peer review process, English language abstracts and titles and full content available online” (Machacek & Srholec, 2017). Grancay, Vveinhardt, and Sumilo (2017) state that bibliometric indicators in publishing requirements for academics from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia stimulated them to increase the number of publications by publishing in predatory journals. It happened because publishing requirements did not aim at internationally recognised journals. Macháček and Srholec (2021) having explored publications from 172 countries in 2015–2017, argue that the social sciences have the largest number of publications in predatory journals. It is the case in the former socialist countries. Specifically, while Ukraine has not a high percentage of publications in predatory journals in general, in the social sciences, it takes the fifth place among 172 having 22.63% of publications in Scopus in predatory journals.

Secondly, academics being required to publish in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals can result in academics publishing extensively in local indexed journals. Since 2010 the number of journals indexed in Scopus and WoS from the Central and Eastern European countries has significantly increased. Earlier studies highlight that these journals are mainly the outlets for publishing the papers of local authors (Grancay, Vveinhardt, & Sumilo, 2017; Machacek & Srholec, 2017; Moed, Markusova, & Akoev, 2018; Nazarovetz, 2020; Pajic, 2015; Pajic & Jevremov, 2014). Grancay, Vveinhardt, and Sumilo (2017; see also Machacek & Srholec, 2017) indicate that many of the WoS-indexed journals from Central and Eastern European countries “have low impact factors, giving them an impression of venues where it might be relatively easy to publish” which leads to more local submissions. Pajic (2015) also highlights that the shared language and lack of local WoS-indexed journals encourage authors to publish in periodicals from nearby and culturally close countries with a larger number of WoS indexed journals, e.g. Belarus and Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia, Moldova and Romania. Similar findings were obtained by Machacek and Srholec (2017) regarding publications of Czech authors in Slovak journals. However, connections can be established even without a shared language when authors publish in English-language journals. This is the case for Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Grancay, Vveinhardt, and Sumilo (2017) argue that stricter publishing requirements for economists from Central and Eastern Europe entailed them publishing a lot in Ukrainian WoS-indexed journals. This occurred due to questionable publishing policies of the journals and to personal contacts of the authors. Hladchenko and Moed (2021) also indicate that in 2014–2016 authors from Russia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland published a lot in Ukrainian Scopus-indexed journals in the social sciences. Kuzhabekova (2019) states that in 1991–2013 the number of publications in WoS from Kazakhstan increased but these publications were mostly in Russian journals with a low impact factor. The study highlights that Kazakhstani researchers published in Russian WoS-indexed journals as their papers were not sufficiently competitive to be accepted by non-Russian WoS-indexed journals. Pajic (2015) indicates that national journals from Eastern European countries indexed by WoS are largely used for “local promotions and formal fulfilment of policy rules, rather than the true promotion of national science”. Nazarovets (2020) obtained similar findings on Ukrainian Scopus-indexed journals.

Research setting: Publishing practices of Ukrainian academics

After 1991, the higher education system in Ukraine underwent marketisation and massification (Shevchenko, 2019). Meanwhile, a significant part of the Soviet model of higher education was preserved (Oleksiyenko, 2016). For example, the division between primarily teaching-oriented higher education institutions and research institutes of the National Academy of Sciences. Moreover, next to the National Academy of Sciences, sectoral academies in pedagogy, agriculture, medicine, education, law and art were established. Despite Ukraine joined the Bologna process in 2005, which mentions PhD as the third cycle, the two-level system of scientific degrees (PhD and Doctor of Sciences) was preserved.

In addition to a two-level system of doctoral degrees, a two-level system of scientific titles—docent (associate professor) and professor inherited from the Soviet model also was preserved. A PhD degree allows promotion to associate professor (docent), while the second-level doctoral degree allows promotion to professor. Doctoral degrees and scientific titles provide extra payment to the salary of academics: 15% and 35% of a salary increase for the PhD and Doctor of Sciences and 25% and 33% for the scientific titles of associate professor and professor. Academic hierarchy with the two-level systems of doctoral degrees and scientific titles while the most “distinguished” academics are awarded the status of the corresponding member and “academik” (academician) was created under the Soviets to ensure the loyalty of the academic community to the communist system. Individual academics strived to move up the academic hierarchy by accepting and promoting communist ideology, thereby reinforcing and increasing the legitimacy of communist academic institutions. As neither Soviets nor communists do not take rule in Ukraine anymore, academic hierarchy needs to be updated to correspond to the nowadays societal and economic needs of Ukraine. The life-long incomes for the titles of academician and member-correspondent cost Ukraine €5 million per year (Kovalchuk, 2010). This funding could be allocated on compative basis among Ukrainian academics or spent on high-tech equipment, which could really contribute to the development of Ukrainian science.

After 1991 Ukrainian academics, as a rule, published in Ukrainian journals as these publications, were prioritised at the state level and were required for the doctoral degrees and scientific titles, attestation of higher education institutions and for the application for the state funding for research.

In November 2012, the education ministry introduced the articles in “journals of foreign countries or Ukraine indexed in international databases” into the requirements for doctoral degrees. However, already in December 2012, these publications were changed for publications in international journals which can be substituted with publications in Ukrainian journals indexed in international databases. Publication requirements came into force in September 2013 (Table 1). One article in an international journal and four articles in Ukrainian professional journals became obligatory for the PhD degree, and four international articles and sixteen articles in Ukrainian professional journals for the second-level doctoral degree (Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Youth and Sport 2012). As most Ukrainian journals charge a publication fee, many Ukrainian academics erroneously think that all foreign journals also charge a publication fee (Hladchenko & Westerheijden, 2018).

Publication requirements involving articles in Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals.

Year Issue Requirements
2013 doctoral degrees Ukrainian journals indexed in international databases
2016 scientific titles (docent and professor) article(s) in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS
2018 state attestation of higher education institutions article(s) in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS
2019 state funding for research allocated by the National Fund of Research profiles of applicants in Scopus

In 2014 the Candidate of Sciences degree was renamed PhD. A PhD awarded by a Western university equals to Ukrainian PhD and is viewed as a first-level doctoral degree. Till 2015 among the requirements for the promotion to associate professor and professor were textbooks approved by the education ministry and articles in Ukrainian professional journals. In 2015 the new requirements were approved. They came into force in 2016. According to these requirements for the scientific title of docent (associate professor), academics with a PhD are obliged to have a five-year work experience, an article in a journal indexed in Scopus or WoS, an international certificate that proves level B2 in English and study visit or participation in a conference or symposium in OECD countries and/or European Union countries (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 2015).

Academics with a second-level doctoral degree are required to have a ten-year work experience, two articles in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS to be promoted to professor. An international certificate that proves level B2 in English and a study visit to OECD countries and/or European Union countries are also required. Meanwhile, in both cases, the international certificate which proves level B2 in English can be substituted with 10 articles in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS. It is necessary to denote that all PhD students pass an exam in English.

In 2018 articles in journals indexed in Scopus and WoS became one of the requirements of the state attestation of Ukrainian higher education institutions (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 2018). Publications in the journals indexed in Scopus and WoS are among the criteria for the assessment of research projects applying for state funding (Cabinet Ministers of Ukraine, 2019).

In September 2019, changes were made in publication requirements for the assessment of the individuals when applying for a PhD degree. Articles in so-called Q1, Q2, and Q3 sources allow decreasing the total number of publications (Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 2019). However, these requirements still preserve the opportunity for Ukrainian academics to be awarded a doctorate for low-quality publications. Q1, Q2, and Q3 sources are journals that are ranked in the first three quartiles of the distribution of citation impact measures (either Scimago Journal & Country Rank or Journal Citation Reports) among journals in a particular subject category.

Having explored the implications of publication requirements for the research output of Ukrainian academics, Nazarovets (2020) revealed that in the period 2015–2019, the most popular journals among Ukrainian authors, according to the number of publications, were journals of Ukrainian publishers and English-language translations of Ukrainian journals. However, CiteScore indicated that these were generally not the most influential journals. In 2016, Scopus indexed 47 Ukrainian journals (Hladchenko & Moed, 2021b), classified in the following disciplinary areas: natural sciences (23 journals), engineering (12 journals), clinical medicine & biomedical sciences (7 journals) and social sciences (5 journals). Nine of them have been published since the Soviet period. Twelve of them are in English. In 2014–2016 publications by Ukrainian authors constituted 68.2% of overall publications in Ukrainian journals, with peaks in clinical medicine & biomedical sciences (78,0%), and engineering (77.7%). Concerning the citations, 51.8% of overall citations of publications in Ukrainian journals came from Ukrainian authors, with maximum in engineering (68.9%) and minimum in the social sciences (27.8%). Findings of Hladchenko and Moed (2021a) highlight that in 2019, 29% of publications of Ukrainian authors were in national journals.

Having analysed the publications of Ukrainian authors in titles excluded from Scopus in 2011–2020, Nazarovets (2022) showed that in 2011–2020, in the field of Economics, Econometrics, and Finance, 46.92% of papers of Ukrainian authors were in these journals.

Methodology

This article aims to provide a scientometric analysis of the effect of publication requirements on the research output of Ukrainian authors in Scopus in 1999–2019. The study analyses articles, reviews, proceeding papers and surveys. It explores the research output of Ukrainian academics affiliated with higher education institutions as well as with the research institutes of the academies of sciences.

Three metrics were chosen to investigate the quality of the research output of Ukrainian authors in Scopus: publications in predatory journals, publications in local journals and publications per SNIP quartile from the disciplinary perspective. A comparison among disciplines is taken as one of the metrics because apart from the national context scholarly publication patterns depend on the discipline (Engels, Ossenblok, & Spruyt, 2012; Korytkowski & Kulczycki, 2019) which refers to epistemic cultures (Cetina 1999).

Firstly, journals with publications of Ukrainian authors were checked against Beall's list. This revealed 40 predatory journals among journals in which Ukrainian authors published in 1999–2019. Secondly, among the whole list of journals in which Ukrainian authors published in 1999–2019 journals were found 101 local journals. Journals were categorised as Ukrainian ones because Ukraine is stated as a publishing country or Ukrainian organisation is stated as a publishing organisation or the journals are English translations of Ukrainian journals. Thirdly, a field-normalised metric of SNIP which allows a comparison between subject fields was used to measure the citation impact of the sources. SNIP indicates the relative standing of a serial title within subject fields. All subject fields are divided into 100 equal-sized percentiles based on the number of serial titles, and a serial title is assigned to a percentile based on its SNIP. Quartiles are bands of serial titles that have been grouped because they occupy a similar position within their subject categories. The quartiles are quartile 1 (Q1): serial titles in 99-75th percentiles, quartile 2 (Q2): serial titles in 74-50th percentiles, quartile 3 (Q3): serial trials in 49-25th percentiles, quartile 4 (Q4): serial titles in 24-0th percentiles. The dynamic of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus sources within the SNIP quartiles was explored from the disciplinary perspective: biomedical sciences, clinical medicine, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences & humanities.

During the analysis it was found that due to an inappropriate presentation of the author affiliation, there are Ukrainian journals that contain publications with undefined author affiliation and territory, these publications were checked manually and allocated to the corresponding category.

Results: Research output of Ukrainian academics in Scopus in 1999–2019
Research output of Ukrainian authors in predatory journals

Figure 1 highlights that before 2014 Ukrainian academics had less than 10 publications per year in predatory journals. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, they had 34, 36, and 114 publications correspondingly. In 2019, the share of publications of Ukrainian authors in predatory journals achieved 1% of the total publications. As such we can assume that publication requirements adopted in recent years resulted in the increase in the number of publications of Ukrainian academics in predatory journals.

Figure 1

Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in predatory journals.

Research output of Ukrainian academics in local Scopus-indexed journals

Figure 2 shows that the number of publications in local Scopus-indexed journals fluctuated till 2007 and then increased steadily. It peaked in 2015 when publications in WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals became compulsory for academic titles of associate professor and professor. The number of local publications fell in 2016 and was rather stable in the following years.

Figure 2

Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in local Scopus-indexed journals.

Figure 3 indicates that the share of publications in local WoS- and Scopus-indexed journals increased gradually after 2007 and reached the peak of 47.3% in 2015. In the following years, it fell up to 31.8% in 2019.

Figure 3

Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in local Scopus-indexed journals.

Publications of Ukrainian authors per SNIP quartile: Disciplinary perspective

Figure 4 highlights that from 1999 to 2010 the total number of publications of Ukrainian authors fluctuated but since 2011 there has been a steady increase. If to compare the graph of the total number of publications of Ukrainian academics with the graph of publications in local journals (Fig. 2), in 1999–2014 ups and downs on both graphs coincide significantly.

Figure 4

Number of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals.

During the whole period, except for 2004, the number of Q3+Q4 exceeded Q1+Q2. However, in 2004 there were 1111 publications in journals with missing SNIP, which in sum together with Q3+Q4 publications exceeded the number of Q1+Q2. Since 2014 the gap between the number of Q3+Q4 and Q1+Q2 has widened. Though in 2019 the number of Q3+Q4 only insignificantly exceeded the number of Q1+Q2, there was a large number of publications in journals with missing SNIP. These journals are either local journals or foreign open access journals. In 2019, 35% of papers in journals with missing SNIP were in outlets that have been indexed in Scopus since 2019. Arguably, firstly, Scopus publication requirements triggered the rise in the number of local Scopus-indexed journals. Secondly, they pushed Ukrainian academics to publish in recently indexed open access journals with lax peer-review process.

Figure 5 indicates that a peak of Q3+Q4 publications was in 2009. It can be attributed to the rise in the share of publications in local journals since 2008 that achieved 35.8% in 2019. A widening of a gap between Q3+Q4 and Q1+Q2 occurred after 2013. Though in 2019, the share of Q3+Q4 exceeded Q1+Q2 only by 0.7%, the share of papers in journals with missing SNIP was 8.5%. The share of publications in journals with missing SNIP and Q3+Q4 exceeded Q1+Q2 by 4.6%.

Figure 5

Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals per SNIP quartile.

From 1999 to 2009, the number of publications in the biomedical sciences fluctuated. Since 2010 there has been a steady increase (Figure 6). As such, a rise in the number of publications started before the change of doctoral publication requirements in 2012. However, after 2012 the increase was more significant than before. The peaks in the number of publications were in 2015 and 2019. From 1999 to 2019, the number of Q3+Q4 significantly exceeded Q1+Q2.

Figure 6

Number of publications in the biomedical sciences.

From 1999 to 2019, the share of Q3+Q4 publications exceeded Q1+Q2 (Figure 7). In 2014 and 2016, the percentage of Q3+Q4 publications peaked, which coincided with the changes in publication requirements.

Figure 7

Percentage of publications in the biomedical sciences.

Figure 8 highlights a sharp increase in the number of publications in clinical medicine since 2013. Though in 2014, the number of Q1+Q2 publications insignificantly exceeded Q3+Q4, it fell in the following years. The number of publications in journals with missing SNIP has increased since 2016. In 2018 and 2019, the number of articles in journals with missing SNIP was 349 and 598. Among them, 252 and 350 were in Wiadomosci Lekarskie. It is a Polish journal that charges €250 per publication. Furthermore, 77 and 160 articles were in Georgian medical news. The journal has been indexed in Scopus since 2005. Both journals had the CiteScore of 0.3 in 2019. In 2019, 58 publications were also in two Ukrainian journals. Both have been indexed in Scopus since 2019 and their SNIPs in 2020 corresponded to Q4.

Figure 8

Number of publications in clinical medicine.

Figure 9 shows that the share of Q1+Q2 exceeded Q3+Q4 in 2002–2012. There was a sharp fall in the following years, which coincided with a rise in the percentage of publications in journals with missing SNIP.

Figure 9

Percentage of publications in clinical medicine.

Figure 10

Number of publications in engineering.

In engineering, the rise in the number of publications was after 2010. It was mainly due to the increase in the number of Q3+Q4 publications. The gap between Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 widened after 2010. The peaks in the total number of publications were in 2015 and 2019 due to the increase in the number of publications in Q3+Q4 journals and journals with missing SNIP. In 2019, 99 out of 494 articles in journals with missing SNIP were in two Ukrainian journals. One has been indexed in Scopus since 2014 and another since 2019. In 2020 both of them got SNIP which corresponded to Q4.

Figure 11 highlights that from 1991 to 2019, the share of Q3+Q4 exceeded the share of Q1+Q2. Since 2012 the gap between the percentage of Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 has even widened. Though in 2019, the share of Q3+Q4 fell, the share of publications in journals without SNIP increased.

Figure 11

Percentage of publications in engineering.

In the natural sciences, there has been a sharp increase in the number of publications since 2011. The number of both Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 has increased (Figure 12).

Figure 12

Number of publications in the natural sciences.

Figure 13 highlights the fluctuating gap between Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 in 1999–2019. In general, in 2014–2019 the gap between Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 was narrower than in 1999–2013. In 2019, the gap narrowed to 7%. However, there was an increase in the share of publications in journals with missing SNIP in 2019. Together with Q3+Q4 publications, they exceeded Q1+Q2 by 4.6%.

Figure 13

Percentage of publications in the natural sciences.

In the social sciences and humanities (Figure 14), the sharp increase in the number of publications has been since 2013. In 2013–2018, the rise was due to the growth in the number of Q3+Q4 publications. In 2019 while the number of Q3+Q4 fell, the number of Q1+Q2 and publications in journals with missing SNIP increased. In 2019, 163 papers were published in journals with missing SNIP. Among them, 101 were in three Ukrainian journals and 14 were in a Lithuanian journal, which charges €350 for publication. The increase in Q1+Q2 was due to the rise in the number of publications in local journals and open access journals. From 2018 to 2019, Q1+Q2 articles in local journals increased from 7 to 434. The number of articles in open access journals rose from 144 to 670. In 2019, 41% of Q1+Q2 were in local journals and 63% of Q1+Q2 were in open access journals. Compared to 2018, the number of Q1+Q2 increased by 725 publications. Among them, 425 publications were in the Eastern European Journal of Enterprise Technology, Ukrainian journal, that shifted to Q2 in 2019. The journal belongs both to engineering and the social sciences & humanities in Scopus. It charges a publication fee that starts from €425. As such in 2019, Ukrainian authors brought to the journal a minimum of €180,625. A gain of 150 publications in comparison with 2018 was in 4 open access journals in business studies issued by the same publisher. Ukrainian authors published 38 papers in one of these journals. It charges €699 for the article of 5 pages. The others, in which the total number of articles of Ukrainian authors is 112, charge €981 per article. Journals claim to provide a review in 15–25 days and have a 30% level of acceptance. As such in 2019, Ukrainian academics brought to this publisher a minimum of €136,434. Ukrainian universities do not provide funding for open access articles. A gain of 35 publications was in the Journal of Security and Sustainability Issues, also an open access journal. A great number of articles of Ukrainian authors in 2019 in mentioned journals puts under question the peer-review standards of these journals.

Figure 14

Number of publications in the social sciences and humanities.

Figure 15 highlights a sharp rise in the share of Q3+Q4 since 2014, though it fell in 2019. In the social sciences and humanities, in 2019, Q1+Q2 publications exceeded other publications by 6.5%. However, the increase in the share of Q1+Q2 was due to the rise in the number of publications in local and open access journals.

Figure 15

Percentage of publications in the social sciences and humanities.

Conclusions

This article explored the effects of publication requirements on the research output of Ukrainian academics in Scopus in 1999–2019. Three metrics were elaborated to investigate the implications of publication requirements for the quality of publications: publications in predatory journals, publications in local journals and publications per SNIP quartile from the disciplinary perspective. Data were extracted from Scopus for the period from 1999 to 2019.

Firstly, an analysis of publications of Ukrainian authors in predatory journals revealed that the number of publications of Ukrainian authors in predatory journals started to rise after 2013 and reached 1% in 2019. As such, the study findings resonate with Grancay, Vveinhardt, and Sumilo (2017), who revealed that research evaluation policies without defined qualitative requirements for the journals resulted in academics from Central and Eastern European countries stimulated to increase the number of publications in predatory journals. Compared globally, Ukraine has a low percentage of publications in predatory journals in general but a high percentage in the social sciences (Macháček & Srholec, 2021).

Secondly, the exploration of publications of Ukrainian authors in local journals indicated an increase in the number and percentage of these publications after 2012 with the peak in 2015, which can be attributed to the changes in publication requirements for doctoral degrees and scientific titles. In the following years the percentage of publications in the local journals fell. The number of these publications also fell insignificantly after 2015. However, it was much higher than before papers in Scopus-indexed journals were introduced into publication requirements. As such, the study findings support Nazarovets (2020), who revealed that publication requirements based on quantitative criteria do not “encourage Ukrainian scientists to seek the optimal channel for the presentation of their research output”. This also resonates with Pajic (2015), who indicated that national journals from Eastern European countries indexed by WoS are used for “local promotions and formal fulfilment of policy rules, rather than the true promotion of national science”. Local high-quality journals are crucial for the development of the science. They require publication requirements to be focused not only on quantity but also on quality, as it is stated in earlier studies (Krawczyk & Kulczycki, 2021).

Thirdly, the total number of publications has risen dramatically since 2011. The analysis of publications per SNIP quartile highlighted an increase in the number of both Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 but from 1999 to 2019 except for 2004 the share of Q3+Q4 exceeded the share of Q1+Q2. In 2019 there was a rise in the share of publications in journals with missing SNIP. These journals are either local journals or foreign open access journals.

As regards the disciplinary perspective, after 2012 in the biomedical sciences the gap between Q1+Q2 and Q3+Q4 & publications in journals with missing SNIP was almost the same as in prior years, while in the natural science it narrowed insignificantly and the share of Q1+Q2 increased a little bit. In clinical medicine in 2012 and in 2015–2019 the share of Q3+Q4 exceeded the share of Q1+Q2, though in previous years it was the opposite way. In engineering and social sciences, the share of Q3+Q4 has exceeded Q1+Q2 since 2012 even more than in previous years. However, in 2019 in the social sciences and humanities, the number and the percentage of Q1+Q2 publications exceeded Q3+Q4 and publications in journals with missing SNIP. However, the increase in the number of Q1+Q2 occurred due to the rise in publications in local journals and open access journals, the peer-review standards of which are under question. As academics publish more and more in these journals they are supposed to cite more and more publications from these journals and as a consequence, the journals shift to higher SNIP percentiles. So not always the high SNIP percentile can be seen as evidence of quality. In the social sciences and humanities, publication requirements led to the creation of income for particular journals indexed in Scopus which for a publication fee can publish an article without maintaining the required standards of peer review. Distinctions among the disciplines support the earlier studies that indicated that publication practices of academics are related not only to financial incentives but also to reputational and intrinsic reasons (Andersen & Pallesen, 2008; Lam 2011) as well as the publication culture of discipline (Engels, Ossenblok, & Spruyt, 2012; Korytkowski & Kulczycki, 2019).

To summarise, the study findings highlight that the introduction of Scopus publication requirements resulted in the increase in the research output of Ukrainian authors in Scopus. However, the study findings also indicate that research evaluation policies should define qualitative criteria for journals to prevent quantitative criteria to be achieved through publications in journals of lower impact. This resonates with the earlier studies on quantitative and qualitative aspects of research evaluation policies (Butler, 2003; Demir, 2018; Korytkowski & Kulczycki, 2019; Kyvik & Aksnes, 2015; Rochmyaningsih, 2019; Schneider, Kaare, & Bloch, 2016; Vanecek, 2014; Vanecek & Pecha, 2020). Qualitative criteria in publication requirements prevent the waste of time and money of academics and orient them to high standards in research.

Figure 1

Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in predatory journals.
Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in predatory journals.

Figure 2

Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in local Scopus-indexed journals.
Number of publications of Ukrainian academics in local Scopus-indexed journals.

Figure 3

Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in local Scopus-indexed journals.
Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in local Scopus-indexed journals.

Figure 4

Number of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals.
Number of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals.

Figure 5

Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals per SNIP quartile.
Percentage of publications of Ukrainian authors in Scopus-indexed journals per SNIP quartile.

Figure 6

Number of publications in the biomedical sciences.
Number of publications in the biomedical sciences.

Figure 7

Percentage of publications in the biomedical sciences.
Percentage of publications in the biomedical sciences.

Figure 8

Number of publications in clinical medicine.
Number of publications in clinical medicine.

Figure 9

Percentage of publications in clinical medicine.
Percentage of publications in clinical medicine.

Figure 10

Number of publications in engineering.
Number of publications in engineering.

Figure 11

Percentage of publications in engineering.
Percentage of publications in engineering.

Figure 12

Number of publications in the natural sciences.
Number of publications in the natural sciences.

Figure 13

Percentage of publications in the natural sciences.
Percentage of publications in the natural sciences.

Figure 14

Number of publications in the social sciences and humanities.
Number of publications in the social sciences and humanities.

Figure 15

Percentage of publications in the social sciences and humanities.
Percentage of publications in the social sciences and humanities.

Publication requirements involving articles in Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals.

Year Issue Requirements
2013 doctoral degrees Ukrainian journals indexed in international databases
2016 scientific titles (docent and professor) article(s) in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS
2018 state attestation of higher education institutions article(s) in journals indexed in Scopus or WoS
2019 state funding for research allocated by the National Fund of Research profiles of applicants in Scopus

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