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Ever since the escalation of the war in Ukraine in 2022, numerous institutions have reacted to the event in different ways. Some cut partnerships with Russian scholars completely while others took a more sympathetic approach, arguing that most researchers do not condone the war and politics should not get in the way of academics.

I submit drafts to numerous journals, including Russian ones before the war. However until recently not a single one of them were published. Unexpectedly I received an email from a Russian journal to which I sent an article more than a year ago and forgot about. They praised the quality of my writing and asked whether I would like it to be published. On the one hand I was so happy that I finally got an offer after years of trying. However I was skeptical because that specific one wasn't outstanding in any way in my point of view. Perhaps they were running low on backlogs because foreigners stopped providing material and they had to turn to less established people like me.

I shared the news with friends and they were almost equally split on whether to go ahead with the publication or not. Half of them argued that it is a huge milestone in my career and turning it down would be a bad idea since I might not get another chance in a long time should I give up. The others warned me against the implications, who tried to persuade me to not respond and try to get it published elsewhere. They lectured me on how I could get cancelled online and be seen as "insensitive" given the current situation. They insisted that it will hit me even harder since I am an independent not enrolled to a university and thus has no institution to shield me from negative correlations.

Is it that morally unacceptable to publish in Russian journals in the Western research society? Could it really hurt my chances of being employed, being admitted to research institutions, having my paper considered in western journals and more? Are some of my friends spending too much time on social media, worrying about stuff that doesn't happen outside their online bubble?

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    If you were to publish your paper on an Israeli paper, taking into account the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing event, would your friends also warn you against publishing there? What about an UK journal, considering the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute?
    – Amelian
    Aug 30, 2023 at 5:19
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    @Amelian Whataboutism is rarely useful in discussing serious matters; devil is in details. All wars are awful, but some (like Falkland War) are fortunately behind us, even if some political steps are yet to be completed. As for Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's very concerning and people are polarised on it, but the number of casualties in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war is significantly larger and counting. It is an event of a much larger scale, and it deserves special consideration and reaction. Aug 30, 2023 at 8:30
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    @DmitrySavostyanov, your purpose is not clear and your comment shows polarized comment. According to The Economist, 14000 lives gone since 1987, an average 400 people every year is killed. The aggression is mostly one-sided as the bar diagram shows. Recently, Israeli forces killed children, media journalists etc. It is another matter that some media do not care it due to some other reasons. But should we scientific community boycott Israeli community. The answer is NO.
    – learner
    Aug 30, 2023 at 10:12
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    @Amelian: Sorry for being so blunt, but independently of the concrete topic at hand, non-sensical comparisons are not likely to lead anywhere. The current status of the Falkland Islands vs. the current Russian war in Ukraine? Please. Aug 30, 2023 at 10:14
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    @ANG You declare that the numbers are meaningless because every life matters (which is true). Next, you ask me to justify a number. Sorry, you can't have it both ways. I am not going to bother bringing you the evidence you will dismiss the next moment. Do your own research please. Aug 30, 2023 at 10:26

2 Answers 2

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I encourage you to distinguish between the Russian people and the current Russian Government. The people are, to a large degree also victims of that government.

While some, perhaps many, Russians support the government, not all do and many are in a low-information situation in which things aren't clear to them. That is probably less true for Russian academics.

I would look, first, at the historical reputation of the journal. I doubt that, in the US, at least, you would have issues with articles in reputable Russian journals unless you associate yourself, or the journal does, with current governmental policies.

The same can be said for many other nations around the world.

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Not at all. It is not about Russia and Ukraine. There are disputes between other countries as well. Research has no wall in terms of geographic region. If someone tries to create a barrier it would be one of the biggest dishonesty/attack to the mankind as it could lead to barrier in the progress of scientific discovery. There were wars between countries and among countries in the past, there are cold wars in the present among several countries but there has not been spectacular barriers in the collaboration on research and communication. Political rivalry is narrow issue compared to scientific collaboration. Ofcourse, every responsible cosmopolitan doesn't support political aggression of any country, but that is another issue.

If a Russian journal is good enough (and indeed there are lots of good journals) in the specific topic, one would love to publish articles in it. If a Russian collaborator is helpful and necessary for my research, i would love to proceed positively. Research and collaboration has no geographical wall. Ultimately, the question is whether the journal is good enough or not in which your article is accepted. If the journal has good record, then you are good to go.

Remark: I am from mathematics. I can inform you that most of Russian journals and their publishers gave a declaration in their website on the issue of Russia-Ukrain war and the statement says it doesn't support the war. One of my article is published in a Mathematics journal in Russia. But, the same journal rejected my 2nd article for not being suitable, in 2022. So certainly "it is not like" that the journal has low backlog and therefore accepted your article as you are probably thinking about. But there might be other reasons for accepting your article, may be the referee found it suitable or maybe that specific journal is less selective.

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    Without arguing with your main point, I don't think it's fair or appropriate to minimise a large-scale invasion and a full-blown war to a "dispute between countries" or "political rivalry". Aug 29, 2023 at 23:55
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    @DmitrySavostyanov, I have argued the main point in 2nd para. My comment is as a scientific community here, not as a political community. According to you, I have to look at the research output or journals based on countries. Sorry it is not my job, i can't discriminate as scientific community.
    – learner
    Aug 30, 2023 at 1:18
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    I am not telling you what to do; I am merely stating that your description of factual events minimises them and does not reflect the horrible reality that many people experience at the moment. This is not a "dispute", this is a war. It's not "rivalry", it's a war, people are killed. Now, when we established this, you can of course continue your research and business as usual. Aug 30, 2023 at 7:00

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