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Per title. There's a war going on in Ukraine, which presumably makes it hard to do research, especially if one is suffering from constant blackouts. If Ukrainian researchers are currently not able to review, it's possible they will assume that it is something I ought to know, and be offended as a result. On the other hand, if I assume that Ukrainian researchers are currently not able to review, then I am making the decision for them, which is also not be ideal. Are Ukrainian researchers currently able to do peer review?

Bonus question: what if the paper in question is written by Russian authors?

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    As the situation is not uniform across the country, wouldn't it be best to let each scientist decide for themselves if they can or cannot do it - after all one can always decline a review invitation? Also some might find it a good way to think about something else for a change.
    – Sursula
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 6:32
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    Your bonus question ought to be a separate question. Nevertheless, I'd find it offensive if, being Ukrainian, I'd get a request to review a russian-authored paper. Note that many countries, or at least particular universities, withhold all formal collaborations with russian institutes. I've seen papers co-authored with russian scientists, but their affiliation wasn't given - i.e., those papers won't count for their universities. (...)
    – user132477
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 13:38
  • (...) Regarding such co-authorship, that's a different issue: if some western researchers have collaborated with them for years, and potentially know their stand on the current situation, it might indeed be too much to kick them out of projects ongoing for a long time. Not allowing the state to benefit from such personal collaborations is one way of tackling the issue.
    – user132477
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 13:40
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    It depends. If a researcher is at a front-line, then surely not. Otherwise, why not? I (acting as an editor) asked some for quick opinions (rather than full reports) and got such. Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 15:29
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    I would find it hard to review any russian paper. In Kharkiv, my university was attacked. In fact, 95.7% of the total number of higher education institutions in Kharkiv region were targeted
    – oleksii
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 16:38

2 Answers 2

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I wouldn't bother them with any trivial stuff for which you can easily find a reviewer elsewhere at this point, but if something really requires high level of expertise and you know a really good specialist in Ukraine, I see nothing unethical about asking (but asking is not a synonym of insisting!) if you manage to establish a contact, which, as Massimo noted, may now be a bit more difficult than usual.

In general, my opinion is that even in the peace time, people in difficult situations are uplifted if someone trusts them with good interesting work and get irritated if someone asks them to review patented junk the editors were too lazy/busy to reject themselves. So just be more selective than before the war.

As to "bonus question", play it by ear. There is no obvious answer for that. When my Ukrainian friends talk about "Russians", I sometimes make a point of reminding them that I am one of those (nevermind that I'm on the side of Ukraine in this war and that I have an American citizenship for over 15 years by now). That, nevertheless, creates no offense on either side, and we discuss freely many things way more "sensitive" than pure math. When the Ukrainian Rada recently made a move to prohibit citations of Russian authors in Ukrainian papers, many of them signed a letter of protest and called such move "idiotic". There are a lot of subtleties here beyond the "us" versus "them" division by the nationality alone.

Again, exercise caution and common sense but, IMHO, the only worldwide guild that should finally file for bankruptcy and be disbanded as the result of the recent events is that of politicians. Mathematicians should try to stay together as a guild (though many individual relations may be rather strained now). I don't know how to facilitate that and it is obviously impossible to do it by force or through logical persuasion alone, but some gentle nudges here and there may go at least some way.

Just my two cents...

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Yes, no, maybe.

The situation is extremely varied, and from a few contacts I know of at least two situations:

  1. Some researchers are currently hosted in various European institutions as refugees. They might not be reachable at their former emails.
  2. Some researchers are still working in Ukraine, but their institutions may be severely damaged.

Indeed there is also the possibility that a significant number of researchers might be fighting or have been killed.

I see no reason to universally assume that a Ukrainian researcher cannot review a paper, and I'd certainly send the invitation. Expect, though, that they might not be able to reply.

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