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The ultimate publication activity of the Russian authors of the scientific journals

https://doi.org/10.24108/2658-3143-2021-4-3-94-105

Abstract

The paper deals with an approach to finding the ultimate number of papers Russian authors deliver to scientific journals. The approach is based on an assessment of the entire audience interested in publications in scientific journals, an assumption that each author personally pursues a research and writes a paper for the scientific journal, as well as an account for the co-authorship indicator, i.e. the involvement of colleagues into the research performed by the author. The research employs data by Rosstat, Higher School of Economics and Scientific Electronic Library to reveal all the authors interested in publication. This indicator is then multiplied by a value of co-authorship. The number of papers the authors publish per year is recommended to be taken as a random value, to be used later as a basis for building a probabilistic distribution of the ultimate number of papers among all authors. The distribution is built by the Monte Carlo method, and the analysis employs the apparatus of the probability theory and linear algebra. The obtained data and data from the Scientific electronic library have been exposed to comparative analysis. The work revealed that for the annual amount of more than one article the distribution of the number of papers received from the Russian audience can be approximated by a normal distribution, with all its parameters depending on maximum annual number of papers, scope of audience and co-authorship indicator. This gives the ultimate number of papers for any section (group of disciplines or a particular discipline). The article considers the examples of obtaining the distribution for the ultimate number of papers. The results can be used for correcting the research policy of an organization or an institute of higher education in the directions of activity being researched, and can serve as a guide to the necessary number of papers in various fields of science.

For citations:


Bolshakov D.Yu. The ultimate publication activity of the Russian authors of the scientific journals. Scholarly Research and Information. 2021;4(3):94-105. https://doi.org/10.24108/2658-3143-2021-4-3-94-105

Introduction

The launch of any, and not just a scientific, journal, requires the agreement of the following two components:

  1. currently existing audience of readers and authors;
  2. the concept of a new journal in the selected segment of audience, that distinguishes it from the ones already existing.

The second component has been much studied, whereas assessment of currently available readers’ and authors’ audience might have a catastrophic implication for the journal, as it may reveal such a small size of the audience that the journal will fail in the competition with publications similar or close in their topics. This research deals with the authors’ audience only, as the readers’ one, though much wider, may have a potential for interest in publication of scientific papers, but does not need it.

The issue of the ultimate reachable number of papers flowing into scientific journals will allow the comparison between their current and potential level. Understanding of potentially reachable ultimate number of papers allows to use the methods for controlling the flow of papers arriving into the journal [1]. In addition, management of scientific research in accordance with the principles formulated in advance allows for determination and support of the preset efficiency [2][3]. This implies that the editors of a new scientific periodical should realize well before its launch how many articles are being published in the direction planned and how close is their number to the ultimate one.

Publication activity apparently relies on two factors, the scope of the authors’ audience and the number of papers required within a period of time. The first factor may be assessed definitely, whereas the second one is related to probabilistic distribution and is to be exposed to probabilistic methods [4][5].

It should be noted that publication activity issues have been dealt with before [6–9], but the issue of the ultimate activity, namely, assessment from the top, as potentially reachable, is still not found in the literature.

This research is aimed at defining of the ultimate publication activity of the authors measured in the number of papers being submitted to the scientific journals.

Assessment of the scientific journal’s audience

The research carried out for a scientific and technical journal and described in paper [1] has shown that 73 % of its authors’ audience consist of post-graduate (doctoral) students, researchers from research and development companies, and technical university professors, with the scope of audience for the scientific journal researched in paper [1] roughly similar to the all-Russian distribution according to Rosstat and HSE data [1][10–12]. Non-target audience is involved in paper preparation or technical work, but has no direct interest in the publication of papers in the scientific journal, which is why this audience is further omitted.

In addition, paper [1] has offered an empirical formula that can assess the authors’ audience of any Russian journal:

where Кfield — relation between the number of researchers in the particular field of science and the number of researchers in all sciences;

Nnumber of disciplines — number of disciplines in which the journal can publish papers (can be taken from the effective HAC list);

Ntotal number of disciplines — total number of disciplines in the field;

Nnumber of research fellowsNnumber of university professorsNtotal nimber of post-graduate students — total number of research fellows, university professors, and post-graduate students according to the Rosstat and HSE data.

Кfield coefficient showing the relation of researchers in various fields, can be obtained from Rosstat data for all the researchers in Russia (see Table 1).

It should be noted that Kfield coefficient for post-graduate students can also be calculated according to Rosstat data, and its value differs from the coefficient for researchers (see Table 2).

Rosstat has no data related to university professors, which is why we will use those which Higher School of Economics [11] has accumulated for the total number of students and post-graduate students Kfield for further obtaining of the audience scope, as an average of students’ and post-graduate students’ audiences. Data related to Kfield coefficient are given in Table 3.

Use of data from Tables 1–3 can now be made to assess scientific journals’ audience by scientific fields. To do this, we will employ the HAC data pertaining to disciplines. At present, the order of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia of the 21st February, 2021 No. 118 numbers them to 351 [14]. It should be noted that this list does not cover military sciences, because their research is usually confidential and cannot be a subject of this paper.

By assuming the homogeneous distribution by disciplines, let us assess the audiences of a scientific journal in one discipline. The data are given in Table 4.

It should be noted that the border between social and humanitarian sciences is more conventional than between engineering and natural ones, which is why assessments of audience potential for these fields of science may diverge widely.

The data from Table 4 allow for:

  1. Assessment of the audience of any Russian scientific journal from the HAC list, because a scientific journal publishes papers related to various disciplines and the scope of audience can be obtained by multiplying the right column by the appropriate number of disciplines.
  2. Focusing of the existing or future journal on the prevailing audience (post-graduate students, researchers, university professors).

Data from Tables 1–4 may be used to assess the ultimate number of scientific papers from the Russian audience. Suppose that post-graduate students, researchers and university professors are to publish one paper per year. Suppose also, as a limiting case, that none of post-graduate students, researchers or university professors have co-authors. Then, the ultimate flow of papers scientific journals receive from the Russian authors is the figures presented in Table 5.

Table 5 shows that, potentially, papers by Russian scientific authors can amount to 677,000 per year. With regard for potential non-target audience, it may be increased by 30 % (up to 1 million papers per year). However, data in Table 5 are given for only one paper per year for each type of audience. According to practice existing now in Russia, the number of papers is either established in local administrative documents of an organization, or is not regulated at all.

It must be noted that science cannot be developed by one person, which explains why most of the papers are published by co-authors. First 500 journals from 2020 Science Index rating have been analysed to assess the coefficient of co-authorship. In total, the rating includes 4249 journals, so the error in finding the average number of authors for the papers written in 2020 made 4 % at 0.05 significance level [4]. Average coefficient of co-authorship and its value for various fields is given in Table 6.

Table 1. Distribution of researchers in various scientific fields, according to Rosstat data (for the year 2020)

Field of science

Quantity

Kfield, %

Humanitarian

12 326

4

Natural

80 966

23

Medical

14 584

4

Social

20 076

6

Agricultural

14 584

4

Engineering

208 994

60

Total

351 530

100

Table 2. Distribution of post-graduate students in various scientific fields, according to Rosstat data (for the year 2020)

Field of science

Quantity

Kfield, %

Humanitarian

3 510

4

Natural

14 918

17

Medical

7 898

9

Social

36 855

42

Agricultural

3 510

4

Engineering

21 938

25

Total

88 629

100

Table 3. Distribution of university professors in various scientific fields, according to HSE data and calculations of the author (for 2019/20 academic year)

Field of science

Quantity

Kfield, %

Humanitarian

10 223

4

Natural

25 287

11

Medical

16 944

7

Social

108 560

46

Agricultural

9 524

4

Engineering

66 741

28

Total

237 279

100

Table 4. Authors potentially interested in the journal and representing one HAC discipline

Field of science

Number
of disciplines

Scope of audience for one discipline

Total

Post-graduate students

Researchers

University professors

Humanitarian

47

75

262

218

554

Natural

96

155

843

263

1 262

Medical

52

152

280

326

758

Social

27

1 365

744

4 021

6 129

Agricultural

17

206

858

560

1625

Engineering

112

196

1 866

596

2 658

Table 5. Potential scope of papers in terms of audience per year

Field of science

Potential scope of papers from the audience

Total

Post-graduate students

Researchers

University professors

Humanitarian

3 510

12 326

10 223

26 059

Natural

14 918

80 966

25 287

121 171

Medical

7 898

14 584

16 944

3 9426

Social

36 855

20 076

108 560

165 491

Agricultural

3 510

14 584

9 524

27 618

Engineering

21 938

208 994

66 741

297 673

Total

677 438

Table 6. Field of science, branch of science and average number of authors per paper

Field of science

Branch of science

Average number of authors per paper

Humanitarian

History

1,5

Literature

1,35

Science of science

1,9

Political science

1,49

Psychology

2,28

Philosophy

1,63

Linguistics

1,37

Average

1,65

Natural

Astronomy

3,2

Biology

4

Geography

2,98

Geology

3,35

Geophysics

3,17

Mathematics

2,11

Mechanics

2,4

Physics

4,02

Chemistry

4,45

Ecology

3,5

Average

3,32

Medical

Medicine

4,40

Field of science

Branch of science

Average number of authors per paper

Social

Domestic trade

2

State and law. Legal science

1,36

Demography

1,7

Comprehensive studies of countries and regions

2,05

Education

2,7

Pedagogics

1,92

Sociology

1,58

Economics

1,82

Average

1,89

Agricultural

Agriculture

2,91

Engineering

Automatics. Computer facilities

2,55

Informatics

2,35

Engineering

3,16

Metallurgical sector

3,7

Food industry

2,68

Communication

2,4

Construction. Architecture

2,78

Electronics. Radio engineering

4,2

Electrical engineering

2,8

Power engineering

3,7

Average

3,03

-

Multidisciplinary

2,07

Average for all branches*

2,82

According to elibrary.ru management, the average number of co-authors made 2.62 in 2020 for all journals.

Table 6 shows that the average number of authors per one paper varies for different fields of knowledge. For instance, it makes 4.4 for medicine, close to 2 for social sciences (economics, law, political science, sociology, etc.), and slightly more than 3 for social sciences (chemistry, physics, biology).

After obtaining the audience scope, authors’ publication activity can be assessed as follows. Let us assume that each kind of audience has quotas for annual number of papers. For example, up to two papers are required per year. Suppose that a post-graduate student is to write one paper in humanitarian sciences, while a university professor, two. In engineering sciences both a post-graduate student and university professor are to write two papers each. An ultimate value will obviously be a distribution depending on how many papers should annually be written by a certain audience. The distribution can be found by the known Monte Carlo method [5], that accounts for all combinations of the entire audience and all possible versions of the number of papers being submitted. In addition, we will consider co-authorship as follows: for the purposes of research, suppose that the paper has only one writing author, who adds co-authors, as they, in turn, will add him/her to their papers. Then, the ultimate value of the audience should be multiplied by the co-authorship coefficient. In this case, distribution by the number of papers can be obtained by the Monte Carlo method, that is, by disposing of the whole annual number of papers from all kinds of audience as per the formula

where KiСО — average co-authorship coefficient from Table 6 for six fields of science,

Ninumber of research fellowsNinumber of university professorsNitotal number of post-graduate students — scope of audience for six fields of science;

nij — a whole random number (in modelling, takes any value between 1 and nmax) that characterizes a number of papers different kinds of audience are to present to scientific journals per year.

Graphs of functions (2) for nmax between 2 and 6 papers are shown in Fig.1. The graphs were plotted in Excel. Number of tests by the Monte Carlo method made 105 for each distribution. In this case, the error in finding of distribution parameters makes 0.6 % [4].

Fig. 1. Densities of probable number of papers, in millions per year

Fig. 2. Mathematical expectation and root mean square error vs annual number of papers

Several conclusions can be drawn from the analysis of Figure 1:

  1. Curves at Fig.1 are approximated by normal distribution (proposals for normal distribution of samples have been checked and converge at 0.05 significance level).
  2. The curves are obviously interdependent and because a normal distribution is defined by two parameters only, being a mathematical expectation and a root mean square error, with assessment of these parameters at hand, the approach described above can be applied to any data, without modelling.

Fig. 2 shows the graph of mathematical expectation and root mean square error vs annual number of papers being received in scientific journals.

Fig. 2 demonstrates that a trend line built in Excel is a perfect approximation for the dependences of average value and root mean square error growth, which is why further results can be obtained without resort to the Monte Carlo method.

Elementary algebraic transformations of linear equations from Fig. 2 in the process of solving of two systems in two unknowns and rounding the results to the whole numbers, produce

where N — scope of the audience;

kСА — average number of paper’s co-authors from Table 6 for all fields of science (kСА = 2.82).

Next, with regard for the three sigma rule, the ultimate value for the publication activity can be represented as [4]:

Table 7 gives ultimate values of the publication activity for various types of audience and respective various kСА, coefficients obtained from formula (1). The ultimate number of papers in Table 7 means that, per year, each post-graduate student, professor or research fellow writes precisely the number of papers stated in the heading of the table, and the total number is then multiplied by the co-authorship coefficient, because each author not only writes a paper by themself, but is involved in writing of other authors’ papers.

Using the data from Table 7 and a trend to reduction of scientific authors’ journals described in paper [1], Fig. 3 offers comparative graphs for the ultimate annual number of papers and data of scientific electronic library, elibrary.ru, related to annual number of papers, uploaded to the platform.

Table 7. Ultimatenumber of papers, million

Field of science

Audience, persons

kСА

Number of papers per year

1

2

3

4

5

6

Humanitarian

26 059

1,65

0,1

0,1

0,1

0,2

0,2

0,2

Natural

121 171

3,32

0,6

0,9

1,3

1,6

2,0

2,3

Medical

39 426

4,40

0,3

0,4

0,6

0,7

0,9

1,0

Social

165 491

1,89

0,5

0,7

1,0

1,3

1,5

1,8

Agricultural

27 618

2,91

0,1

0,2

0,3

0,3

0,4

0,5

Engineering

297 673

3,03

1,3

2,1

2,9

3,7

4,4

5,2

Total:

2,9

4,5

6,1

7,8

9,4

11,1

Elibrary.ru data from Fig. 3 show that actual maximum number of papers exceeds 4.5 mln, yet statistics does not indicate whether the download included archive issues of scientific journals and papers downloaded by the CIS countries. The analysis of graphs in Fig. 3 proves that the data of Russian authors’ efficiency are not that far from the ultimate ones. For example, with the mandatory requirement of 6 papers per year for all the audience the ultimate number of papers makes 11 mln a year, 2.3 times more than the maximum value according to elibrary.ru data for 2019.

Reverse conclusions can be drawn from the graph in Fig. 3 as well. With data on the quantity of the audience and the number of authors, we can calculate the number of papers published per one scientist. Average values from the graph in Fig. 3, as per the elibrary.ru data, give approximately 2.5 mln. These 2.5 mln papers divided by multiplication of the Russian scientists audience (0.6 mln) with the number of co-authors in the paper (2.82) give 1.4 papers per year per each Russian scientist.

Using the above reasoning, the distribution of the ultimate number of papers for any topic or discipline can be obtained. For example, Fig. 4 shows a probability density for nmax =2 (two) groups of disciplines in natural sciences.

Fig. 4 proves that the maximum number of papers in Mathematics discipline groups gives the maximum spread between 16 and 94 thousands of papers per year, and for Mechanics discipline groups, between 10 and 70 thousands of papers per year.

The following issue is quite legitimate: if some upper limit exists, is it possible to use data of modelling in assessing of a lower limit or the average value? For instance, graphs in Fig. 4 may lead to a conclusion that the average annual number of papers on mechanics and mathematics makes 42.1 and 52.2 thousands, respectively, and an almost impossible minimum number makes 10 thousands for mechanics and 16 thousands for mathematics. Unfortunately, such conclusion cannot be made, as the approach described in this paper accounts for the entire audience, yet it cannot be stated that the whole audience pursues scientific investigations, though it consists of researchers. This is the reason why the apparatus offered may be used only for assessment from the top.

Fig. 3. Ultimate number of papers vs elibrary.ru data by years

Fig. 4. Probability density for the number of papers in groups of disciplines: mathematics (6 disciplines, kСА = 2.11), mechanics (4 disciplines, kСА = 2.4), thd

Conclusion

As it is clear from the research, in general, even with regard for reducing of the number of participants, the Russian science demonstrates quite good publication dynamics, as the ultimate value for the number of scientific papers is not an order greater than the data on the papers being uploaded to elibrary.ru platform. The actual number of papers and the assessed ultimate number are commensurable, even with regard for somewhat idealized approach to the assessment of publication activity.

As has been noted above, the results of the study can be used in assessing of the publication activity of researchers in any field of science. In addition, the findings may be useful for editors of new scientific journals for potential assessment of the number of papers to be published in the planned field and worthiness of investments into attracting the audience for cooperation with the journal.

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About the Author

D. Yu. Bolshakov
«Almaz — Antey» Air and Space Defence Corporation, Joint Stock Company
Russian Federation

Denis Yu. Bolshakov, Candidate of Technical Sciences, Head of the Department of Scientific and Technical Publications and Special
Projects of the Office of the Director General, Vereiskaya str., 41, Moscow, 121471, Russia



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For citations:


Bolshakov D.Yu. The ultimate publication activity of the Russian authors of the scientific journals. Scholarly Research and Information. 2021;4(3):94-105. https://doi.org/10.24108/2658-3143-2021-4-3-94-105

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