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Changes in the scientific output of Russia from 1980 to 2000, as reflected in the

Science Citation Index, in relation to national politico-economic changes

Concepción S. Wilson1*, V. A. Markusova2

School of Information Systems, Technology and Management, University of
New South Wales, Sydney 2052 Australia. email:

VINITI (All-Russian Institute of Scientific and Technical Information),
Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia. email:

* Please address all correspondence to the first author

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Three features of the output of scientific papers from Russia which is covered by SCI are reported
for the period 1980 to 2000. Changes are related to the major politico-economic developments in the
USSR and Russia, and contrasted with similar data from France, Canada and Italy. The problems of
isolating Russian papers in the output of the USSR and of estimating the proportion of Russian papers
without stated addresses are addressed.
The Russian annual output grew from 1980 to 1990, but fell by 20-24% after the dissolution of the
USSR in late 1991; from 1994 there has been an inconsistent partial recovery, and by 2000 the annual
output had approximately regained its 1980 value. The reduced output in the 1990s derives mainly from
low government funding for science. The proportion of Russian papers produced in collaboration with
other nations has grown from six percent in the early 1980s to 31% in 2000, while the principal regions
of collaboration shifted rapidly after 1990 from other republics in the USSR and East Europe to
Western Europe and North America. These changes were initiated by glasnost and the end of the Cold
War, and more recently have been driven in part by a need for foreign support. Russia’s annual output
in the physical sciences in the 1980s was approximately twice, and from 1995 to 2000, approximately
four times, that in the life sciences. This continuing dominance, which contrasts with the comparison
countries, derives from the high priority given by the central governments to defense spending and
related prestige projects.

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The period from 1980 to 2000 saw great changes in Russia and in its relationships with other
nations. In 1980 Russia was one of 15 republics which formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), a closed centrally-controlled one-party state. In 1985 the programs of perestroika (political and
economic restructuring) and glasnost (openness) were introduced, and the normalisation of relations
with Western nations was promoted. These changes destabilised the USSR, culminating at the end of
1991 in its dissolution into 15 separate nations. Major political and institutional readjustments
continued in Russia through to 1994. From 1992 a more vigorous attempt was made to decentralise the
economy, but this, compounded with a global financial crisis in 1998, further unsettled the nation; only
at the very end of the 1990s did the economy show improvement.
Given the international importance of the USSR, and of Russia, in many areas of science, the
impact of these changes on the performance of Russian science is of wide interest. Also, an opportunity
is afforded to study the effect of external factors on a large contemporary scientific establishment with a
long tradition (Graham, 1998, pp.xi-xiii). News items (eg. by Abrikosov and by Vaganov, both reported
in Graham, 1998, pp.43-44, 61; Kaiser, 1996) and more comprehensive studies (Mirskaya, 1995;
Yurevich, reported in MacWilliams, 2001) depict a substantial deterioration in the country’s scientific
infrastructure, raising the issue from one of wide interest to one requiring wide concern (Sher, 2000).
Our focus here is on the production of original research papers in ‘better’ scholarly journals. The
investigation was guided by how major components of the upheaval might bear on this publication
output. An account of these changes is provided in the Appendix. Of most importance are: (a) the
dissolution of the USSR in 1991, taking Russian science from an established and central position in the
institutions of a megastate of c.260 million people to new institutions in a state of c.145 million people
(Hammond World Atlas, 1979; World Factbook, 2002); (b) the subsequent economic deterioration,
engendered by the mandated rapid shift from a command economy to a market economy in which
science took reduced standing; and (c) the encouragement given by the central government to Russian
science after 1985 for interaction with the international scientific community. Institutional dislocation, a
reduction in spending on science, and better prospects for scientists in the market economy and abroad
suggest a decline in scientific publication output; the opening up of Russian science suggests more
international collaboration on papers; and reduced government budgets suggest a concentration of
science funding into perceived priority areas. Accordingly, in this paper we will investigate: (1) the
number of original research articles in journals produced by Russia through the period 1980 to 2000;
(2) the extent and orientation of collaboration with other nations in this research; and (3) the broad
subject orientation of the research. Our principal interest is in the time course and the extent of changes
in these attributes of Russian scientific output through the twenty-year period. To isolate changes
specific to Russia from global trends in science, we also gathered comparable data for three nations
with yearly outputs of similar magnitude to Russia’s for at least some part of the period, viz. France,
Italy and Canada.1 Where appropriate, we have also assembled comparable data for the whole World.

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Data Source
Our data source is the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) database, Science Citation Index
(SCI, 2001). This database records the documents in a comprehensive set of scientific journals which
have consistent international recognition in their respective subject areas in the time period. Though it
has sometimes been remarked that SCI is biased against non-English literatures (Van Raan, 1999;
Lattimore & Revesz, 1996, p.19), any such bias is minimised here by attending primarily to temporal
changes in output within national literatures. The SCI database allows for the identification of suitable
types of documents through a document type field, the country/ies of origin of the documents through a
geographical location field, and the subject content of documents through a journal subject category
field. However, two problems in the identification of Russian documents, one peculiar to this database,
require special attention, and are explained below.

Yearly publication output

In this paper we take journal documents reporting original research to be records with document
types (DT) designated as articles, notes, review bibliographies or reviews in the two Dialog Information
System databases for the SCI (SciSearch Files 434 and 34). For each publication year searched in the
period 1980 to 2000, the update (UD) field was used to secure consistent file closure before the time of
searching, the ninth month of 2001. Below is an example of a Dialog search strategy for 1990,
excluding national or other specifications.2
BEGIN 434,34
BIBLIOGRAPHY)/1990 NOT UD=200109?:9999

We take the scientific output of a nation to be all appropriate publications which contain at least one
author address in that nation. Here these are documents which also list the nation in the geographical
location (GL) field of a record; for example, to obtain the scientific outputs of France, a comparison
nation, we search for GL=FRANCE. It should be noted that this form of assignment is generous where
multinational collaboration on papers is high. The yearly scientific output for the World is the whole
yearly output of SciSearch for records with a GL field (but see problem (2) below).

Problem (1): Redefinition of nations in the USSR

The redefining and retitling of nations within the USSR in 1991-1992 has affected the way Russian
research has been registered in the SCI. This required the formulation of a somewhat complex search
strategy. SciSearch has adopted three successive protocols for identifying appropriate Russian scientific
literature (ISI, 1992).

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(1) For publication years 1980 to 1986 approximately, the Russian publication output may be
identified as documents where GL=UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS. The 14 other
republics of the USSR are identified by separate GLs, for example, the Ukrainian output is identified
from GL=UKRAINIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC, etc. The total output of the USSR is the
union of the literatures from the 15 republics.
(2) For publication years 1987 to 1992 approximately, the search protocol is more complicated,
requiring use of the corporate source (CS) field. In these years, GL=UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST
REPUBLICS identifies the output of the whole USSR. The 14 non-Russian republics of the USSR are
identified within these documents by an appropriate corporate source. For example, documents from the
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or Ukraine -- the old and new names of the republic, respectively --
Unfortunately, no comparable corporate source, eg. CS=RUSSIA?, is provided for the Russian Soviet
Federated Socialist Republics/Russian Federation. To compile the total output from Russia, we obtained
first the total output of the USSR, and second the union of the outputs of the 14 non-Russian republics.
From the latter, all documents that contained a Russian corporate source were identified by inspection
and removed so as to produce the total output from the non-Russian republics without Russian
collaboration. Removing this set from the total output of the USSR yielded the required total output of
(3) For publication years 1993 to 2000 approximately, the publication output of the Russian
Federation may be identified as documents where GL=RUSSIA is indicated. The 14 other republics of
the former USSR are identified by their new separate GLs, for example, the Ukrainian output is
identified from GL=UKRAINE, etc.
The stated range of publication years for each of these search protocols is only approximate and
each needs to be extended over the whole time period and then unioned to ensure that all documents are
obtained, whether from Russia or from each of the other republics.

Problem (2): Documents without assigned countries

Unless otherwise stated, all national and multinational document sets used here are identified from
values in the GL field. A problem for this approach arises from documents for which no GL value has
been assigned, viz. those without author addresses: Were the relative numbers of such documents to be
appreciable, then our data would seriously underestimate the appropriate outputs. Unfortunately this is
reported to be the case for the literature of the USSR (Garfield 1990a). As a separate component in this
study, we have attempted to assess its extent for the USSR, Russia, France and the World, and to
explore whether and how it might affect our conclusions for what are hereafter called the ‘located’
We first obtained for each year from 1980 to 2000 the set of all appropriate documents with values
in the GL field, ie. where GL=(A? OR B? OR ...), and by subtraction from the appropriate total
sets, the sets with no GL field for the World. For each of these, for the years 1980, 1985, and 1990, we
estimated the number of documents from the USSR as those in the languages of the USSR – in
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actuality, only Russian and Ukrainian – plus those (in other languages) in journals published in the
USSR, or in translation journals of these. The journals were identified by first using the RANK
operation of the Dialog Information System on the the source journal (JN) field (Dialog: 2003a, 2003b),
and then consulting the appropriate national listings in SCI Annual Guides (1980-2000), supplemented
with information from issues of Ulrich’s (1984, 1987, 1992). The numbers of Russian documents were
estimated from the USSR sets as that percentage of the USSR documents with GL fields produced by
Russia for each year. For the years 1995 and 2000, we estimated the number of documents from Russia
directly by replacing the USSR with Russia in the above search strategy. The number of French
documents was estimated for the years 1980 to 2000 at five-yearly intervals in the same manner, as
those in the French language and from journals published in France. Linear interpolation proved
adequate for obtaining estimates for other years. From these data, an estimate of the total numbers of
appropriate documents, both with and without the GL field, could be obtained for Russia, the USSR,
and France from 1980 to 2000. The comparable data for the World were obtained initially and directly
as the sets of all appropriate documents in the database.
The estimated numbers obtained for the three countries are high to the extent that authors of other
nationalities might publish in the Russian or French languages, or in Soviet, Russian or French journals;
and low to the extent that Russian and French authors might publish in other languages and journals. 3
Our estimates are protected, inter alia, by the high likelihood that a paper without an address originates
in the country of publication of its journal, and by the national orientation of many Russian or French

Collaboration with other nations on located documents

For each year at five-yearly intervals from 1980 to 2000, we obtained the set of appropriate
Russian publications produced. Collaborating nations and the numbers of shared documents could be
identified by RANKing the geographical location field of these sets. (More correctly, by RANKing the
geographical location field of suitably-small subsets of each set, obtained by partitioning the number of
references field). Since there is only one occurrence of the same GL per document irrespective of the
number of addresses in the corporate source field for that nation, RANKing provides the number of
documents with both a Russian address and an address from each specified nation. Nations have been
left as stated each year in SciSearch, except for conflating the outputs of England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern/North Ireland to that of the United Kingdom (UK). For 1980 and 1985, and for 1995 and
2000, Russian collaboration with the 14 other (former) USSR republics can be obtained from the GL
field as just outlined. For 1990, as noted earlier, these republics are specified in the CS field when
GL=UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS; to obtain their collaboration with Russia we made
CS search sets for each as described in the previous section and individually intersected each with the
Russian output set for 1990.
For manageability in subsequent analysis, we have also grouped nations into well-recognised broad
geographical/political regions. Those which showed appreciable collaboration with Russia are: (1) the
14 other (former) USSR republics; (2) East Europe; (3) West Europe; (4) North America; and (5) the

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Far East.; while other nations were combined into the category 'Other'. 4 To obtain the numbers of
Russian documents shared with these regions, we searched the yearly output sets of Russia for the GLs
of each region. To obtain the number of documents originating exclusively from Russian addresses in
each year, we removed from the total Russian output the union of all documents that contained other
nations' addresses for each year. That we had indeed obtained documents from Russia alone was
confirmed by inspection of all corporate sources in these sets.

Broad subject focus of located documents

Journals in SciSearch are assigned one or several subject categories (SC); these may be used to
determine the subject area of the contained documents. For each year at five-yearly intervals from 1980
to 2000, we obtained the set of appropriate Russian publications produced, and RANKed the SC field --
again via smaller subsets as outlined in the previous section -- to obtain a complete list of SCs for each
year. We remark that as many as c.22% of the appropriate documents in the SciSearch files for any year
in the 1980s may not have been assigned SCs.
The SCs were grouped into five broad subject areas: (1) physical sciences, with many SCs; (2) life
sciences, with many SCs; (3) mathematics, with several SCs including 'Statistics & Probability'; (4)
multidisciplinary sciences, with a single SC; and (5) social sciences, with several SCs including
'Information Science and Library Science'. The yearly output sets for the SCs combined into the five
broad subject areas were searched to obtain the number of documents per subject area. The first two
subject areas covered most documents, and became the focus of this study. 5 For the very large World
data set, it was not possible to obtain a fully exhaustive list of SCs in the manner described, but over
99% of documents could be checked.


Yearly publication output: located documents

Figure 1 shows the numbers of appropriate and definitely-located scientific documents that were
produced each year from 1980 to 2000 by Russia, by the whole USSR, and by Ukraine, the second
largest of the (former) USSR republics. In outline, all three plots show a fluctuating growth in annual
output from 1980 to 1990 or 1991, with a noticeable downturn in mid period. Thereafter, the Russian
and Ukrainian outputs show marked reductions for two or three years until a partial recovery and
stabilisation occur, while for the USSR the output collapses with its dissolution in late 1991. In detail,
rounding output per annum to three significant figures:
Russia. The annual output of Russia grew somewhat erratically from 23,500 documents in 1980 to
29,600 documents in 1986, or by 26%. It declined in 1987 by 2,400 documents, or by 8%, but then
steadily regained size to reach 30,200 documents in both 1990 and 1991, with a 29% gain overall from
1980. Output in 1986 was 98% of that in 1990/1. However, after 1991, the annual output fell rapidly to
24,100 documents in 1993; this is 80% of 1990-91 maximum and just above the 1980 level. Thereafter
it recovered somewhat to reach 27,300 documents in 1997, or to 90% of its 1990/1 maximum, but then

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relapsed slightly to 26,500 documents in 1998, with little gain thereafter. The 2000 output, 26,800
documents, is only 114% of the 1980 output.
The USSR. The annual output of the USSR grew erratically from 31,100 documents in 1980 to
38,200 documents in 1984, or by 23%. It declined to 1987 by 5% when output reached 36,300, but then
steadily regained size to reach 40,000 documents in 1990, with a 29% gain overall from 1980. The
1991 output of 38,700 is 97% of that of 1990. Thereafter, attribution of documents to the USSR ceases,
with allowance made for submission and publication time-lags in 1992 and 1993.
Ukraine. The annual output of Ukraine grew from 5,010 documents in 1980 to 6,600 documents in
1984, or by 32%. It then declined for three years, but recovered to reach 6,760 documents in 1990, with
an overall growth of 35% relative to 1980 values -- slightly higher than for either Russia or the whole
USSR. Output in 1984 was 98% of that in 1990. However, after 1990, the Ukrainian annual output
declined to 3,670 documents by 1993, or to only 54% of its 1990 maximum. It recovered somewhat to
reach 4,130 documents by 2000, ie. to 61% of its 1990 maximum. The 2000 output is only 82% of the
1980 output. Thus, Ukraine shows a more severe decline than Russia, and a smaller and slower partial
Comparison with France, Italy, Canada and the World. In Figure 2 the annual Russian output for
1980 to 2000 (from Figure 1) is plotted for comparison with those of France, Italy and Canada, and of
the whole World. In broad terms the comparison profiles rise steadily through the whole period. With
reference to 1980 values: by 2000 the annual output of France added 105%, Italy added 240% (from a
relatively low initial value), and both Canada and the World added 81%, whereas the annual output of
Russia added only 14% and that of Ukraine fell 18%. This picture may be contrasted with 1990s, when
the annual outputs of France, Italy, Canada and the World had added 39, 90, 57 and 38 percent
respectively of their 1980 values, and those of Russia and of Ukraine had added 29 and 35 percent
respectively. The considerable reduction in Russia’s output after 1991 – and even the smaller brief
reduction of 8% in 1987 – stand in contrast to the other rising profiles. Within our framework, it is
apparent that these two features of the Russian profile are particular to its situation and are not of
global – a conclusion supported by the similarity of the Russian and Ukrainian profiles. In more detail,
however, the profiles of France, and to a lesser degree of the whole World and of Italy, do show reduced
rates of growth in the latter 1990s, with the output for Canada after c.1995 declining into a stable
pattern similar to Russia’s. So, again within our limited framework, it may be that some part of the
failure of the Russian (and Ukrainian) outputs to sustain or enhance recovery rates in the late 1990s is
due to global factors.
A more sensitive comparison of the annual outputs of Russia, and of Ukraine and the USSR, with
the annual output of the whole World is provided in Figure 3, where the former are expressed as
percentages of the latter for each year from 1980 to 2000; again our focus is on trends rather that
magnitudes per se. The plot for Russia shows a sequence of periods when the annual growth rate
equalled the World’s, interrupted by short declines: from 1980 to 1986, Russia produced c. 6% of the
World’s output of this literature; from 1987 to 1990, a consistent 5.5%; and from 1993 to 2000, c. 4%
(with the last two years lower at 3.8%); the 1991-1993 decline is most conspicuous. Broadly similar
patterns are shown by Ukraine and the USSR (prior to its dissolution): thus, the overall the contribution
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of the former to the World output has declined from an average of 1.3% in the 1980s to only 0.6% in
2000. From 1980 to 1990, Russia contributed on average 75% of the output of the USSR, and Ukraine
on average 17%.

Yearly publication output: including estimates of documents without countries assigned

Estimates of the total numbers of appropriate documents in SCI produced annually from Russia and
from France were obtained by adding to the numbers of located documents (reported above) to estimates
of the numbers of documents without the GL field. Percentages of documents without the GL field were
then calculated; those for the USSR are identical to Russia’s (a consequence of how the Russian
estimates were made), while data for the World (where totals were directly determined) are exact. The
percentages for Russia are appreciable, especially in the Soviet years when as many as one fifth of
documents may have no overt geographic location; after 1990, values fell rapidly to c.4% in 2000. The
percentages for France and the World decline from 5% and 6% in 1980 to 1% and 2% in 2000,
respectively; that is, over the twenty-year period Russian values exceed those for France eight- to four-
fold, and those for the World nearly five- to two-fold. These large differences, and those for Russia itself
through the period, require our previous analysis of trends in the Russian output to be reviewed.
In Figure 4, the estimated total annual outputs of Russia, of the USSR, and of France are shown for
each year from 1980 to 2000, along with the annual located output (from Figures 1 and 2); also plotted
are the exact data for the World. The profile for Russia broadly agrees with that reported earlier, but the
pattern of decline in, and proportion of, ‘unlocatable’ documents results in a total output that is
relatively greater in the earlier years of the time period. The total annual output grew erratically from
29,600 documents in 1980 to 36,200 documents in 1986, fell by 8% in 1987, but then recovered to
reach 36,000 documents in 1990; overall, from 1980 to 1990, it grew at a lower rate than was
previously reported for located documents, by 22% as cf. 29%. We conclude that the previous
description of major pre-1991 features of the annual Russian output remains as reported earlier, though
the given growth rates appear somewhat inflated. From 35,000 documents in 1991, the total annual
output fell to 27,500 documents in 1993, or to 76% of the 1990 value as cf. 80% for located documents
only, and to below the 1980 level as cf. above it. By 1997 the total annual output had partially
recovered at 28,800 documents, 80% of the 1990 value as cf. 90% for located documents only; but it
relapsed slightly in 1988 and thereafter. In 2000, the total output of 27,800 documents is still only 94%
of that in 1980, as cf. 114% for located documents. We conclude that the previous description of the
lowered Russian output post-1991 is not only supported, but the figures given must be regarded as
The picture for Russia is even bleaker when compared with that of France or of the whole World,
for though their pattern of declines in the proportions of ‘unlocatable’ documents does reduce their
previously reported overall growth rates, the lower proportions and smaller declines alter these less.
Between 1980 and 2000, France added 95%, cf. 105% for located documents; the World added 74%, cf.
81%, while Russia lost 6%, cf. adding 14%. As shown in Figure 3, the total Russian output expressed
as a percentage of the total World output displays a steady fall from c. 7% in 1980 to 3.8% in 2000,

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rather than as a step-like fall with stages when annual growth matched the World’s. The pictures for
Ukraine and the USSR (prior to dissolution) are similar. Nevertheless, the comparison profiles support
the earlier premise that local rather than global factors are responsible for the post-1990 lowering of
Russian output, at least until the late 1990s.

Collaboration between nations

In the analysis of national collaboration, we treat only located documents; the likely effect of
excluding national documents without the GL field is considered.
Extent of collaboration: Russia. Figure 5 displays the annual output of papers, at five-yearly
intervals from 1980 to 2000, for Russia – that is, of papers with at least one Russian address each --
and partitions of this output, papers with Russian address/es only, and papers with addresses of other
nations as well, including those of the (former) USSR. Figure 6 displays inter alia the respective
proportion of the Russian annual output produced in collaboration with other nations for these years.
The plots show that collaboration with other nations was small until after the mid-1980s, but by 1990,
the number of collaborative papers had increased 197% over 1985, from 1,670 to 3,290, and by 2000,
505% over 1985, to 8,440. This occurred even as the total number of papers produced each year
increased only 108%, from 27,900 to 30,200, and declined 4%, to 26,800, respectively. The proportion
of Russian papers produced in collaboration with other nations has increased steadily from 6% in 1985,
through 11% in 1990, to 31% in 2000; alternatively stated, in 1985, 94% of the annual output was
produced exclusively from within Russia; in 2000, 69%.
Regarding the estimated high proportion of Russian papers without a GL field in the 1980s, it seems
probable that these papers would be principally from Russia alone, and even from a single address
within Russia. If we take all to be produced exclusively from within Russia itself, and recalculate the
previous percentages, the comparable values in Figure 6 are only 1% below the existing values in the
located Russian profile for each year; for example, the adjusted percentages for 1985 and 2000 are 5%
and 30%, respectively. (The equivalent adjustment to Figure 5 translates both upper curves upward by
c.6000 for 1980-1990, with separate convergence towards the existing curves thereafter). In other
words, the Figures are stable in their important features to correction for papers without a GL field.
Extent of collaboration: Comparison with France, Italy and Canada. The located Russian data
may be compared with those for France, Italy and Canada, which are also plotted in Figure 6. The
proportions of those national outputs produced in collaboration with other nations each year are quite
similar, and, as with Russia’s, they show a steady rise from 1980 to 2000. Though they remain on
average some 10% higher than Russia’s over the 20-year period, the rates of increase since 1990 are
smaller. Thus, if the displayed trends were to continue, all four nations might be expected to attain
similar values by c.2020, with about half the yearly national output being produced in collaboration
with other nations, and half produced exclusively internally.
Regional orientation of collaboration: Russia. Figure 7 displays the numbers of located Russian
documents produced per year at five-yearly intervals in collaboration with one or more nations in the
five broad political/geographic regions outlined in the Methodology. In Figure 8a these data are

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expressed as percentages of Russian documents on which collaboration occurs. Also, a measure of
multi-regional collaboration, the percentage of documents in common with two or more regions (or the
ratio intersection/union as a percentage) is given on the top margin of the figure. Considering Figure 8a
first: the most striking feature is the change around 1990 in the principal collaborating regions of
Russia, from other (former) USSR states and East Europe to West Europe and North America. In the
1980s nearly 50% of all collaborative documents from Russia included one or more of the other USSR
states, and c.30% included one or more nations from East Europe; however, by 1995 only some 10% of
Russian collaborative documents involved either region. In contrast, in the 1980s nations in West
Europe and in North America collaborated in c. 15% and less than 10% of these papers respectively;
but by 1995, West European collaboration occurred on some 60% of papers and North American
collaboration on c. 27% of papers.
To make these shifts more tangible, Table 1 lists the top ten collaborating nations in ranked order,
along with their geographic regions, for the years 1980, 1990 and 2000. Thus, for example, Ukraine
occupies the top position in both 1980 and 1990, but has dropped out (to rank 11) by 2000; and of the
four East European nations in the list in 1980, only Poland remains in 2000. Of the West European
nations, only France and the Federal Republic of Germany are included in 1980; but in 2000, seven
nations from the region are ranked.
The shift displayed in Figure 8a in terms of percentages of regional contributions on Russian
collaborative papers must also be seen against the steadily increasing denominator, the total number of
collaborative papers, displayed in Figure 5. Figure 7 isolates the numerators, the actual number of
Russian collaborative papers with the regions. The large decreases shown in the percentages of
collaboration with other (former) USSR states and with East Europe are roughly compensated by this
increase, so that the numbers of documents shared with the former in 2000 in fact equals that in 1995,
while with the latter is 35% greater -- though the number of documents shared with other (former)
USSR nations per se has declined to 43% of its peak value in 1990. On the other hand, the increases
with North American and with West Europe are even more spectacular when expressed in shared
numbers of documents: with the former the increase from 1980 to 2000 is 19-fold; with the latter, it is
28-fold -- in fact, about one-fifth of all papers produced by Russia in 2000 involves collaboration with
at least one West European nation.
Regional orientation of collaboration: Comparison with France, Italy and Canada. The marked
shift in the pattern of regional collaboration of Russia around 1990 that is displayed in Figure 8a may
be contrasted with the relative stability of the comparable profiles for France, displayed in Figure 8b.
(Those for Canada and Italy are not presented as they are sufficiently similar to France’s in this
respect.) From this comparison framework, we can safely conclude that the Russian shift in regional
collaboration arises from nationally-related as opposed to global factors per se. Furthermore, with this
shift, Russian output more closely resembles that of France (and even more so that of Italy, which has a
smaller ‘Other’ component than France). Additionally, we note that for Russia and France there is a rise
from 1980 to 2000 in the percentage of collaborative documents that are from more than one geographic
region; this percentage is shown on the top margins of the Figures. (Italy and Canada also show this
trend. Each nation’s geographic region is, of course, discounted in its own measure). By 1995 and 2000,
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values for Russia (22% and 29%, respectively) equal or exceed those of the comparison nations, most
closely matching those of France (23% and 27%, respectively); that is, proportionally more of Russia’s
recent collaborative documents are with countries in two or more such regions than are those of France,
Italy and Canada.

Broad subject focus of research

In this analysis, we treat only located documents, but again consider the likely effect of excluding
documents without the GL field.
Figure 9 again displays the total number of Russian scientific documents produced annually at five-
yearly intervals from 1980 to 2000, as well as the numbers of documents classified as belonging to the
physical sciences and to the life sciences from their subject category (SC) field. These two broad subject
groupings constitute on average 91% of papers assigned SCs subject categories each year, and will be
our focus here.6 In both 1980 and 1985 an appreciable number of documents are (in journals that) have
not been assigned SCs, viz. 9% and 13% of the annual totals respectively; their complement, the
number of documents with SCs assigned, is superimposed on the plot of annual totals in the Figure. To
simplify subsequent analyses, we assume that the classification of documents not assigned SCs is
similar to that of documents assigned SCs, and thus allocate to the physical sciences and to the life
sciences the unassigned documents with the same proportions as found in the assigned documents for
each year. These ‘fully classified’ data are also superimposed on the respective plots based on assigned
SCs in Figure 9.
Considering either the documents assigned SCs or the fully classified data, the plots in Figure 9
show that: (a) The yearly output of the physical sciences considerably exceeds that of the life sciences
over the whole 20-year period, and most especially since 1990. From 1980 to 1990 output in the life
sciences averages 46% of the output in the physical sciences, while in 1995 and 2000 it is only 24% of
it. (b) Whereas the profile for life sciences documents approximately parallels that of the total assigned
documents – with a rise, a decline and a stabilisation – the profile for physical science documents is one
of continual increase, although this rate is reduced after 1985-1990. Thus, while the total output in
2000 is 89% of the 1990 output, the life science output is only 56% but the physical science output is
112% of the respective 1990 values. The drop in scientific output after 1990 arises from a collapse of
its life sciences component.
There is no strong reason to suppose that Russian documents without the GL field would differ in
their proportions of physical sciences and life sciences documents from Russian documents with a GL
field. But if addresses were deliberately omitted from documents, voiding the GL field, a probable
reason would be national security, and this would likely favour the physical sciences. If this were so,
then the output for physical sciences would be elevated in the 1980s by up to c.6000 documents,
considerably reducing the increase in the profile in Figures 9 and 10a. The predominance of the physical
sciences output over the life sciences output would then be even greater for Russia than is reported here.
Comparison with France, Italy, Canada and the World. The predominance of the contribution of
the physical sciences to the Russian yearly publication output contrasts with the situation for the three

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 12
comparison nations and for the World as a whole. Figure 10a displays the respective profiles for the
physical sciences, and Figure 10b for the life sciences, plotted yearly at five-yearly intervals from 1980
to 2000. (As with Russia, not inappreciable proportions of documents from these sources in 1980 and
1985 have no SC field, but they have been similarly allocated to produce the displayed data). Figure
10a shows that the Russian yearly output in the physical sciences lies above that of the comparison
nations in general; from 1980 to 1990 it ranges from an average of 1.6 times that for France to an
average of 3.2 times that for Italy. Throughout the period, however, the growth in this output has
declined or remained static, in contrast to that of France, of Italy, and of the World, and in 2000 the
Russian output falls below that of France. (The exception to trends in Figure 10a is the 8% decline in
Canada’s output from 1995 to 2000). In contrast, Figure 10b shows that the Russian yearly output in
the life sciences lies with the least productive of the comparison nations, Italy, until 1990, but thereafter
it falls even further: in 2000 it was only 20% of France’s, 25% of Canada’s and of the World’s, and
30% of Italy’s. This contrast is highlighted when expressed as the ratio of outputs of the life sciences to
physical sciences: the average value for Russia from 1980 to 2000 is c.0.4, but for the comparison
countries, it lies between 1.2 (France) and 1.6 (Canada), with the World value 1.3.


The results presented above are first related to major political and economic changes which
occurred in Russia from 1980 to 2000. Here it should be borne in mind that even in ideal circumstances
research would typically be started one to several years before its stated publication, so that
characteristics of an annual output may better reflect a prior situation. We then conclude with some
general observations

Yearly publication output

Of most interest are the two patterns of decline and recovery shown in Figures 1-4, the first just
after 1985, and the more striking after 1991. The first coincides with the protracted leadership transition
from 1983 to 1985, and the subsequent introduction of the programs of glasnost and perestroika by
Mikhail Gorbachev. It is plausible that uncertainties about the leadership and direction of the USSR and
in science policy prior to the consolidation of the reform programs bear on the brief decline in 1987, or
1985-87 for the USSR, and that greater spending on basic science after 1985 -- for which, see below --
would promote the more consistent growth in output reported thereafter. We must remark, however, that
by 1990 the annual outputs of Russia and of the USSR only broadly regained the 1985-86 levels, so
that over the whole decade growth rates did not keep pace with the World’s. In other words, on balance,
the politico-economic changes were simply disruptive. Of course, it may be that the prior growth rate
could not have been sustained to 1990 without the Gorbachev reforms and spending increases; the
unstable nature of the growth in the early 1980s supports this view.
The second, more conspicuous, drop in output -- to 76-80% of the 1990 value in 1993 -- coincides
with the period of extreme political and economic turmoil from 1990 to 1992, with a loss of control of
the USSR central government and the ascendancy of the Russian government, the dissolution of the
WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 13
USSR in late 1991, and the 1992 economic reforms in Russia which massively contracted the economy
and collapsed government support for science. Thereafter Russian science continued to experience
reduced government spending, with heavy dependence on selective foreign support, a continuing broad
decay in infrastructure, and loss of a personnel.7 Nevertheless, recovery in the annual output had begun
in 1994, and by 1997 about half of the previous loss had been regained. Some part of this may be from
papers which would normally have been published in 1992 or 1993 but whose submission, acceptance
and/or printing were delayed. In 1998 there was another though small decline, with little improvement
subsequently. Economic factors again appear to be heavily responsible: a reduction in foreign support,
the spreading ‘Asian’ financial crisis, and the large currency devaluation and debt default by the
government in 1998. The government’s clarification of its science policy in 1996-1997, with an
affirmation of its support for science, seems to have had little stimulatory effect.
Figure 11 directly compares the yearly output of scientific papers from Russia with its total yearly
expenditure on R&D, for the period 1980 to 1997. Publication outputs are for located documents (as
per Figure 1); expenditures from 1980 to 1995, in millions ECU at constant 1990 prices, have been
taken from Table 1 of Gokhberg (1999b), while data for 1996 and 1997 have been taken from Table 2-
15 of Science & Engineering Indicators (2000).8 Similar plots are also provided for Ukraine. The
steady growth in Russian output from 1987 to 1990 is relatable to the appreciable increase in R&D
spending from 1986; spending in 1990 exceeded that in 1985 by 50%, while the output increased by
8%. Likewise, the large decline in Russian output after 1991 is relatable to the precipitous drop in R&D
spending after 1990; in 1993 this was only 28% of what it had been in 1990, while output fell to 76-
80% of the 1990 value. The Ukrainian situation broadly parallels that of Russia. 9 Though publication
output tracks R&D expenditure with a lag of 12-18 months, variations in the former are not as
pronounced as variations in the latter, particularly for the period 1990-93. It should be noted, however,
that the expenditure data is for all R&D, and not only for basic research which our publication output
more closely reflects. Relatively more of the total R&D expenditure was allocated to non-defense
related research in the 1990s than was formerly the case.
Given the magnitude of political and economic changes and the resulting hardship for the science
sector, a reduction of output by 20-24% from 1991 to 1993, followed by recovery of half this loss by
1997, could be read as a testimony to the resilience of Russian basic science. Yet it must be
acknowledged that some part of this ‘resilience’ derives from a growing collaboration with scientists of
other nations (see the next section), and initially at least from considerable foreign support, for example,
from the International Science Foundation. It is unlikely that it will be long sustained without
infrastructure repair and improving recruitment. Furthermore, resistance to collapse is not growth:
Russian output in 2000 is at best only 14% above, and more likely even lower than what it was 20 years
before, while World output has grown steadily by 81%. Thus Russia’s share of the World scientific
output has fallen from some six or seven percent in the early 1980s to less than four percent in 2000. 10
On balance, and overlooking the benefits of collaboration and openness, the politico-economic changes
in Russia from 1990 to 2000 have not been beneficial for science, either nationally, or, given the
international prominence of Russian science, globally. Once again, of course, one can’t assume that

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 14
prior science outputs could have been sustained were the dissolution and the subsequent rapid economic
re-orientation to have been avoided, but such a precipitous decline seems highly unlikely.
Other components of the scientific output. We have studied only original research papers in a set
of scientific journals which have consistent international recognition in their respective subject areas;
their output from Russia plausibly follows major science-related politico-economic changes in the
country. However, a significant proportion of Russian research is reported in other sources -- in local
(or international) low-impact journals, and in (possibly military classified) institutional reports and
working papers (Garfield, 1990a). 11 Thus our data may not accurately portray the full extent of
variations in the total scientific output of the country through the period -- our findings might well be
too optimistic! For it is not improbable that the publications we have studied disproportionately
originate from better (and more committed) researchers in the better (and better funded) academic
institutes. Foreign collaboration and funding, critical for Russian science through the mid-1990s, might
also be expected to favour researchers with international reputations. Clearly, a broader study of
Russian scientific publications over the period is required. This could include patents as well as papers
and reports, and should draw on other databases and collections. The difficulty of obtaining a reliable
long-term count of such publications, particularly from the Soviet era, could be considerable.
Immediate cause of fluctuations in the reported output. A more readily-performable extension of
the present work would seek the immediate causes for the fluctuations, and especially for the more
recent major decline, in the data presented here, that is, in the numbers of Russian papers in the SCI
database. Is this decline due mainly to a drop in the number of appropriate papers submitted to the
selected journals, or to a fall in the number of appropriate -- most especially Russian -- journals
selected? In the latter case, is this due mainly to their cessation per se, or to their deselection as SCI
source journals? Deselection would occur if the Impact Factor of the journal dropped to, and persisted
at, unacceptable levels.12 In commenting on a ‘precipitous’ decline in Russian scientific publication in
the 1990s, Graham (1998, p. 64) observes that many Russian scholarly journals have shifted from six
to twelve issues per year to one to two issues per year. He also notes that output of the prestigious
Nauka publishing house declined by one-fifth between c.1990 and 1995, that is by about the same
amount that we find for original research papers in the SCI journal set from 1990 to 1993.

Collaboration with other nations

The data presented in Figures 5-8 and Table 1 are clearly consistent with the changes described for
Russia in the Appendix. Only after 1956 – as the program of peaceful cooperation with Western nations
initiated by Nikita Kruschev replaced the primarily self-enforced isolation and hostile defensiveness of
the USSR under Josef Stalin – were contacts made between Soviet scientists and their Western
counterparts (Graham, 1998, p.32; Markusova et al, 1999). But our results show that even by 1985, at
least 96% of scientific papers with a Russian address (and published in SCI journals) were still
exclusively Russian in origin, and on those papers where external collaboration occurred, it was
principally with the other Soviet republics and allied communist states in East Europe.13 Only after
1985, with the introduction of the programs of glasnost and the ending of the cold war, did scientific

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 15
collaboration between Russia and other states grow appreciably, and this has gathered pace since the
institution of an autonomous Russia. By 2000 external collaboration occurred on c.31% of comparable
scientific papers with a Russian address.14 Further, on those papers where such collaboration occurred,
it has declined with authors from the other former Soviet republics, remained static with the former East
European allies, and massively expanded with the nations of West Europe and North America. Glänzel
et al (1999) have already noted this dramatic shift after 1990 in the pattern of scientific cooperation of
the USSR/Russia with countries of the European Union. It is probable that a significant impetus for this
rise in Russian collaboration with the West has been the collapse in government support for science in
Russia and a growth in dependence on foreign grants. In this regard, we note that external collaboration
is reported to be greater in areas where Russian science is particularly strong, eg. physics and space
research (Markusova et al, 1999, 2001). And part of the reduced collaboration with other former Soviet
republics and nations in East Europe may reflect similar disruptions to their scientific establishments in
the early 1990s – this certainly appears to be the case for Ukraine – and to a similar shift to cooperation
with West European nations in preference to their former rather one-sided ties to Russia (Meske, 1999).
Further study is needed of the collaboration between Russian scientists in different disciplines and fields
of science, and with different countries, especially with regards to research funding. Nevertheless,
whatever its basis, the degree and patterns of external collaboration of Russia in 2000 were more
typical of a Western, or at least West European, nation with similar-sized yearly output. Any hindrance
to further progress in this direction must now lie in the continuing economic plight of Russian

Broad subject focus of research

The data in Figures 9-10 show that from 1980 to 1990 Soviet Russia’s yearly output of papers in
the physical sciences was approximately twice that of papers in the life sciences, whereas – in marked
contrast – it was only 60% to 80% of the life sciences output for the comparison countries and the
whole World. The dominance of research in the physical sciences, and most especially in physics, for the
whole USSR and for Russia has often been noted, for example variously by Garfield (1990a), Clery
(1994), Gorelik (1994), and Markusova et al (1999).16 Again, we note that Russia’s only Nobel Prize in
our period of study was for physics, as was its previous prize in 1978 (Schiermeier, 2000). This
dominance follows from the earlier high priority given by the government to defense spending and
prestige projects like the space program, but also draws on a longer tradition in Russian science.
By contrast, the life sciences were relatively neglected in the USSR prior to the Gorbachev era; in
fact, some areas still continued to languish as a consequence of Stalinist suppression of pioneering
genetics research that was not in accord with the subsequently discredited views of Lysenko; see for
example, remarks in Garfield (1990b) and Dickman (1992). Our data show a significant increase in
output in life science papers between 1985 and 1990. That fields such as Molecular Biology were
indeed growing by the early 1990s has been observed by Norman and Koshland (1994). This
improvement reflects the change in policy in the Gorbachev years to increase spending in biomedicine
and health (Dickson, 1989). What is surprising is that this improvement was short-lived, for by 1995

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 16
the output of life science papers had fallen below that of the early 1980s, even as the output of physical
science papers continued to grow slowly or, at worst, remain static (Josephson, 1994). 17 Thus the fall in
the total annual output of scientific papers from Russia after 1991 is mainly due to this drop in the life
sciences output. The yearly output of Russian papers in the physical sciences in the 1990s was
approximately four times that of papers in the life sciences – even greater than in the latter Soviet era,
and markedly different from modern Western nations. This must be seen against a background of both
deliberate and unavoidable reductions in defense spending and related projects by the government, and
the steady shift of the economy towards the civilian consumer. Clearly this has had little impact on the
output of basic physical science research. Both Markusova et al. (2001) and Gokhberg (1999a) note
that the latter, and especially research in physics, still continues to enjoy priority spending by the
government. Also, foreign support, even if provided indirectly through international collaboration, is
reported to be greater in areas of the physical sciences where Russia enjoys a high reputation, than is
generally the case for the life sciences.
Finally, it must be acknowledged that appreciable differences do exist in the condition of different
disciplines and fields within our perhaps unnaturally large groupings: All areas of the physical sciences
have not been perennially favoured and all areas of the life sciences have not been largely ignored.18
This could readily be studied on the database we have used, but with finer, or no, groupings of the
subject category (SC) field.

General comments: Social laboratories for the study of science

Under its new communist government, the goal of rapidly transforming the feudal and agrarian
society of the USSR into a modern industrial state was to be achieved through a total control of the
economy, thereby allowing for a much greater proportion of the gross national product to be devoted to
heavy industrial production, and to related R&D, than was realizable in the market economies of
Western democracies. Though this program had achieved undoubted successes by the late 1950s and
early 1960s, especially in priority areas of science, prospects for further progress diminished while the
Western economies continued to grow. After the failure of the attempt in the late 1980s to rejuvenate the
system by shifting from defense to civilian spending and by loosening political control, the new Russian
government moved to completely disband the old economic system for a Western-style market economy.
It is only a mild rebuke to say this shift was implemented recklessly (see, eg., Soros, 2000), and was
almost immediately detrimental to the science sector, inter alia. It might be argued that government
spending on R&D at the former high rates was unsustainable, and that a downsizing of the national
science base was to be expected in any case. Under this view, the prognosis is (presumably) that
scientific output will stabilize at acceptable ‘Western levels’ once the science base is restructured and
oriented to, and well supported by, the newly emerging market system. This may prove to be naively
optimistic or cavalier. For if Russia’s still impressive resources for, and tradition of, basic research were
to erode too far, their re-building might prove to be the greatest challenge of Russia’s ‘second

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 17
As twentieth century Russia underwent two giant politico-economic ‘experiments’, it has also
provided an excellent ‘social laboratory’ for science studies (Graham, 1998, pp.xi-xiii). One rather
unpalatable conclusion Graham draws from comparing science in Soviet Russia of the Stalinist era with
that in Russia of the 1990s is that persecution and ideological constraint are far less damaging to
science in general than is financial constraint. Another conclusion is that in broad terms science seems
remarkably resilient to hardship, intellectual or financial. Much of the resilience in Russian science
would appear to lie in the continuing belief of practicing scientists that their work is important for
mankind and for the advancement of their nation, whatever their current straits and status (Mirskaya,
1995; Graham, 1998, pp.69-71). This belief represents a view of human progress which, in common
with Western liberal traditions, the now discredited communist system endorsed. One wonders what
might happen to science if this enlightened view were to fade; or, if the scientific base of a country were
smaller or more recently created than Russia’s, how well it would survive comparable upheavals. Our
data on Ukraine presented above, for example, do show a greater relative collapse in annual scientific
output after the dissolution of the USSR than is seen in the larger Russia (see also Dickman, 1992). The
annual scientific output of Iran, a nation which has recently undergone somewhat different revolutions
and which has a still smaller scientific base and tradition, shows even greater fluctuations (Wilson &
Osareh, 2003). An opportunity to study this question is provided by the many other twentieth-century
‘experiments in social engineering’, carried out on a variety of countries with different traditions and
states of development, and with variant outcomes (Peteri, 1995). Conspicuous candidates are the former
USSR republics and the former communist nations in Europe, eg, Poland, Yugoslavia, and East
Germany (Balazs et al, 1995; Braun & Glänzel, 1996; Stefaniak, 1998; Glänzel et al, 1999; Dyker &
Radosevic, 1999; Havemann, 2001.)
Even as the Russian scientific base shrank from lack of government funding, and ironically given
their current economic and scientific success, Western nations were reassessing their own government
support for scientific research. From at least the mid-twentieth century, Western governments have also
spent huge sums on R&D and fundamental research, in part due to the Cold War and to prestige
competition with USSR! The collapse of the USSR as a rival and as a military threat, the discrediting of
the ‘communist experiment’, and the runaway success of the ‘new industrial revolution’ in information
technologies, have encouraged the view that the optimum balance of funding for R&D in a society now
lies – in fact, some might say, has always lain – much further towards the market than is currently the
case in the West. And in particular, that even basic science could do better if government support were
reduced, for this is suspected of inhibiting private support which would be more efficiently invested.
Such an approach to the economic support of science is contentious: it has been promoted by Kealey
(1996, 1998) and disputed to various degrees by, for example, David (1997), Pavitt (1998), Salter and
Martin (2001) and Nelson (2002). The argument draws on a wider clash of views as to the desirable
level of government involvement in the advanced Western economies, and more research will be required
to settle it, however funded.19 At the very least, the case of Russia should promote caution in
implementing policies which enthusiastically abandon strong support of basic science by the government
to the market, newly emerging or well established.

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 18

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of The John Metcalfe Visitor's Grant awarded to
Dr. Markusova in 2001, and VINITI, the All-Russian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information
of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


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APPENDIX: Russia and Russian science, 1980-2000

This Appendix provides a convenient summary for readers unfamiliar with the major changes which
occurred in Russia from 1980 to 2000, and with their effect on Russian science. Our principal sources
are Graham (1998), Boesman (1998), Gokhberg (1999a), and MacWilliams (2001), with Miller (1999)
providing a general chronology of events; other sources, less comprehensive for our purposes, will be
noted where appropriate. Numerical data are largely omitted since minor discrepancies often exist
between sources. Relevant statistics have usually been hard to acquire for Soviet Russia, while accurate
internationally-accepted statistics for post-Soviet Russia became available only towards the end of the
period of our study. Fortunately, this situation is being corrected by the Centre for Science and Research
Statistics (CSRS) in Moscow; we have used their data on spending on R&D in Figure 11.
The USSR before 1985. In important ways, the USSR could be described as an ideologically-
inspired national experiment (Peteri, 1995). The aim of the sole governing party, the Communist Party,
was to rapidly build a modern society superior to those in the West through unprecedented control of the
whole economy and national resources, and by the ideological motivation of the populace. The perceived
continuing threat to this goal both from abroad and from within promoted isolation externally and
suspicion and secrecy internally, the need for a formidable military capacity, and (latterly) a continuing
domination of states in Eastern Europe. The aims of matching and surpassing the West, especially the
USA, and of maintaining a military superpower status, were to be achieved principally through massive
and focussed state spending on heavy industry. Undoubted progress towards this goal had been achieved
by the 1950s and 1960s.20 However by the early 1980s, the economic system of the USSR looked
increasingly ‘overstretched’: in the face of continuing Western growth, the economy stagnated. The
national leadership was aging and unresponsive, and many of the better-educated elite had become
disillusioned with all or parts of the ideological experiment. The situation was exacerbated by a
sequence of leadership changes from late 1982, and a costly stalemated war in Afghanistan.
Science in the USSR and Russia before 1985. In achieving the goals of rapid modernisation and
great military strength, a key role was assigned to science and technology (Nolting & Feshbach, 1980).
Accordingly, the USSR devoted a larger share of its budget to research in science and technology than
did any other major industrialised nation in the World.21 Careers in the relevant professions had high
standing, remuneration, and rates of recruitment, so that in the early 1980s the USSR also had the
largest national community of scientists and engineers in the World (Graham 1998, p.xi, p.49, p.71).
The high quality of many areas of Soviet science, especially from the late 1950s to early 1970s, is well
known; indeed for a number of years following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, many in the West would
have conceded it preeminence in the underlying fields of research. Nevertheless, this picture proves
increasingly deceptive as the 1980s approach. Research in science and technology was carried out in the
USSR by three systems of state funded institutions: (a) the higher education sector, which unlike its
Western counterpart was primarily pedagogical; (b) the academic institutes, which performed mostly
basic research; and (c) the industrial and defense institutes of various government ministries which
performed mainly applied research and development, with some basic research. By far the greater part

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 25
of state spending and numbers of personnel were employed in the industrial and defense sector; the
academies of science sector, of most interest to the present paper, received perhaps only one-twelfth or
less of its funding and employed perhaps one-sixth of its research personnel (Graham, 1998, p.157;
Boesman, 1998). In addition to broad government-dictated research priorities, this huge research
establishment was also burdened by an excessive centralisation of authority, reward for seniority,
orthodoxy, and secrecy. By the early 1980s, it might be better described not as huge but as ‘bloated’.
Again, Soviet science was generally slow to adopt the new and rapidly improving information
technology which has spearheaded much contemporary research since the 1980s (Medvedeev, quoted in
Garfield, 1990a). There was no major realignment of the large domestic electronics industry
(Schiermeier, 2000) to this end, in part due to the low priority given to communications in the USSR
(Sokolov, 1999). In fact, post-Sputnik envy aside, an accurate description of the quality of Soviet
research might be a mix of the excellent and the mediocre.
The USSR, 1985-1991: In a surprising development in early 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, a younger
party leader, became General-Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and immediately
initiated a series of sweeping changes to rejuvenate the USSR. These included: perestroika, or political
reform, including a loosening of Communist Party control, and economic reform; glasnost, a relaxation
of constraints of the free exchange of information in society and with the outside World; a reduction in
the size of the military and the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan; the ending of the domination of
its East European national republics; and the ending of the Cold War with the West. Many of these
changes were strongly opposed by elements in the party, even as they were criticised by others as
inadequate and erratic. The reconstruction and reform of the economy was the least successful program:
expectations soared initially but were frustrated as the economy failed to improve. Further, the rapid
liberalization of control and the rise of open debate unsettled society, and allowed long-suppressed
national aspirations to grow in many of the republics. By 1990 the central government was embroiled
not only in internal struggles but also with the increasingly assertive governments of the republics, and
most particularly Russia’s. After an aborted coup by orthodox Communist Party members, the Union
was dissolved into its 15 separate republics in late 1991.
Science in USSR and Russia, 1985-1991: As in earlier times, science and technology were to play
a central role in this restructuring of the Soviet economy, but now civilian-oriented research was to be
emphasized. Funds were reduced for military research, leading an appreciable decline in the number of
researchers employed in the industrial and defense institutes. Support for academic science continued,
and in fact funding was increased from 1986 to 1989, with more support going to, for example,
biomedical research (Dickson, 1989; Mirskaya, 1995). These shifts can be followed from the first
release of economic data on the USSR’s spending on science (Garfield 1990a). How these reforms were
perceived varied across the R&D community, but overall morale gradually declined as uncertainty grew
and economic restructuring faltered. Formal links between science institutions of the USSR and other
countries were expanded, but a restructuring of the scientific establishment per se remained largely
rhetorical (Russian science, 1990; Mirskaya, 1995).
Russia, 1992-2000: In early 1992 the Russian Federation was recognized as the legal successor to
the USSR. As president of the Russian Federation from 1990, Boris Yeltsin continued the previous
WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 26
direction of political changes within Russia, the steady improvement of ties with the West, and
demilitarization. A succession of struggles between Yeltsin and the Russian parliament, in part over the
1993 constitution, culminated in 1994 with Yeltsin prevailing, though with diminished moral authority.
A radical and often conflicting restructuring of the economy towards a free market system was begun in
1992, with the liberalization of price controls, an emphasis on privatization, and an encouragement of
foreign trade and the movement of capital. The first of these changes led to immediate and
unprecedented inflation and a precipitous decline in the GDP, forcing the government to cut back
massively on expenditures; the second to a phase of ‘robber capitalism’, effectively the looting of the
more profitable public ventures. Economic contraction continued through to 1996, with growing
government deficits, the emergence of an untaxable ‘underground’ economy with possibly twice the size
of the GDP, the flight of capital, a 50% collapse in industrial production (Gokhberg, 1999a), the
necessity for large foreign loans, and a growing dependence on imports. Of particular relevance are a
shift to importing computers and a collapse in the production of domestic models (Sokolov, 1999). In
social terms, the standard of living of most Russians fell, while industrial unrest, unemployment and
lawlessness rose. The beginning of a recovery in 1997 (Miller, 1999; MacWilliams, 2001), was derailed
by a global financial crisis (the ‘Asian crisis’) in 1998, which forced a 1000-fold reduction in the face
value of the currency and a debt default by the government. Subsequently the weaker ruble reduced a
growing reliance on imported goods and promoted both investment and the export of natural primary
products (for example, oil and metals); the economic situation appeared to be improving, and living
standards returned to 1990 values. With Vladimir Putin becoming acting president in 1999, and elected
president in 2000, the reorientation of Russia’s economy continues but more carefully than in the
previous decade (Wines, 2001).
Science in Russia, 1992-2000: (1) The dissolution. The scientific institutions of the USSR were
designed to serve all 15 republics collectively; with the dissolution at the end of 1991, these were
fragmented and the separate parts reinstituted in the separate nations. In 1991, c.67% of the major
research institutes and researchers, and c.60% of all research organizations of the USSR, were located
in Russia (Boesman, 1998; also see map, p.212, Garfield 1990a). Some 72% of its R&D spending
occurred there, five times that spent in Ukraine, the next largest recipient (Gokhberg, 1999a). (Our
estimate above is that between 1980 and 1990 Russia produced on average about 75% of the annual
scientific output of the USSR as recorded in the SCI database, over four times that of Ukraine.) With
c.56% of the population of the USSR, Russia appears to have been well favoured with respect to
science within the Soviet state (Norman & Koshland, 1994), and relatively well situated with respect to
facilities to absorb the restructuring of Soviet science. Nevertheless, it seems likely that their
maintenance and operation would now impose a higher per capita burden on Russia. Further, a number
of special facilities, especially related to astronomy and the space program, were located in non-Russian
republics (Norman & Koshland, 1994, Hall, 1994), and their retention would presumably also involve
more costly financial arrangements. Again, many R&D institutes and universities in Russia had non-
Russian personnel and students; their exodus after the dissolution would constitute a loss, unlikely to be
recouped by the return of Russian minorities from other ex-Soviet states.

WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 27
(2). Economic factors. The massive contraction in the economy and cutbacks from 1992 led to a
collapse of government support for science. The greatest cuts continued to be made in military-
industrial R&D. But now massive cuts were made in funding for the academic sector also; in real terms,
spending in 1996 was possibly as little as one-tenth of its value in late 1991 (Boesman, 1998). This led
initially to a small decline in the number of research institutes (Gorodnikova, 1999). For the survivors,
collapse in funding required a reallocation into salaries from budgets for the maintenance of facilities
and equipment, let alone the purchasing of new equipment, and often from the running of experiments.22
Even then, salaries were reduced five-fold by 1996 and usually went unpaid for long periods. A critical
factor in ameliorating these effects was foreign grants. Initially private foundations were the main
contributors (Goodman, 1993; Webb, 1994), so much so that in 1995 the International Science
Foundation of George Soros provided more support than the government itself. Subsequently other
foreign government support, jointly with the Russian government, and support from the growing
Russian private sector, have increased.23
(3) Personnel. The collapse of government support for science and technology quickly led to
substantial reductions in the number of personnel; one estimate is that half of all research and support
personnel (some 600,000 people) lost employment in government funded R&D facilities between 1989
and 1993 (Graham, 1998, p.63). Losses were greatest in the military-industrial sector: by the mid-1990s
unemployment among engineers was higher than in any other profession in Russia. Losses in the
academic sector were nevertheless substantial; one estimate is that between 1990 and 1995 about one-
fifth of related personnel (some 30,000 people) lost employment (Graham, 1998.). With the
liberalization of travel regulations, one avenue open to dissatisfied personnel was emigration. Exact data
are hard to obtain and it seems likely that the size of the foreign exodus has been exaggerated and had
substantially greatly reduced by 1994. Nevertheless, it is also likely that the permanent emigrants were
disproportionately better and younger researchers with advanced degrees from areas of research with
higher international standing, such as the space industry. A more serious problem is the so-called
‘internal brain-drain’: one estimate is that for every Russian scientist who emigrated permanently, ten
have abandoned science for new careers in the rapidly expanding private sector, where their training is
generally under-utilized; again a higher proportion of these are younger people. Even amongst
researchers who have remained, in the face of greatly reduced incomes, many have been forced to
‘moonlight’ in other jobs to support themselves, and their research. Needless to say, the prestige and
attractiveness of science has fallen substantially in Russia from its Soviet days, both for the population
at large (see, eg., Shmakin, 1995) and for potential recruits. If in 1995 as many as three quarters of
science graduates from the prestigious University of Moscow could not find employment in science, it is
unsurprising that student enrolments in science have fallen in preference for commercially related
(4) Institutions. The restructuring and liberalization of Russian science institutions has not
proceeded apace with the major changes to society. In most ways the Russian academies simply
continued on from their former Soviet counterparts (Fortescue, 1992). With respect to fundamental
research, the Russian Academies of Science have been accused of opposing institutional reform, thereby
contributing to continual vacillations in the government’s science policy (see, eg. Allakhverdov, 1994).
WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 28
They have also been accused of failing to lobby more effectively for science from the outset of the
disruptive changes. Still, legislation was passed to protect the position of science and scientists in 1996
(Allakhverdov, 1996) and in 1997, even if a commitment to provide expenditure on science at a
generous 4% of GDP was regarded as completely unrealistic (Science in Russia, 1997). 24 One notable
reform has been the creation of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFRB) which awards
government grants directly to individual researchers and not to institutes (and their directors) as in the
past (Dezhina & Graham, 1999; Markusova et al, 2001); another is the Program for Basic Research
and Higher Education (BRHE) which seeks to link the academies and the universities more closely and
productively (Stone, 1998). The long-term survival and success of these programs remains to be seen,
for the primarily politico-economic battle to save science continues (Kaiser, 1997; Allakhverdov &
Pokrovsky, 1997).
(5) Prospects. Supporting this depressing picture of the state of science, including basic science, in
Russia through the 1990s, are newspaper accounts of despair and decay (including suicides of institute
directors: see Graham 1998, pp.43-45; p.48; pp.61-62), and predictions that the size of scientific
establishment still needs further contraction to be sustainable by a full market economy. Yet apparently
many practicing individual scientists are less gloomy about the prospects for their own particular areas
of research in Russia, and continue to carry out research of comparable quality to that in earlier days
with considerable dedication, despite their current hardships (Mirskaya, 1995; MacWilliams, 2001).
Though Russian science is financially poor, its human resources are still considerable – at least for the


WilsonMarkusovaRevised.doc 29
Selecting countries with scientific outputs of similar size to Russia’s minimizes differences in comparisons which are
affected by this factor per se, eg. as in the extent of international collaboration (Schubert & Braun, 1990; Luukkonen et al.,
Not shown here is the application of the RD (Rid Duplicate) Dialog function to eliminate the small overlap between Files
434 (covering 1974-1989 approximately) and 34 (covering c.1990-present). The truncation operator ‘?’ here ensures that
all weeks in the ninth month are selected; that relatively few documents, eg. less than 0.8% for Russia in 2000, were added
to the Files after the closure date was confirmed in early 2003. The DT ‘bibliography’ (with very few documents) continues
a component of the earlier DT ‘review, bibliography’ which also had research articles with longer reference lists.
Surveying the scientific output of Soviet Russia, especially with respect to international collaboration, is complicated
further by Soviet researchers not infrequently listing their visiting, but not their home, addresses on papers resulting from
research done in other countries (Garfield, 1990a). Other complications with addresses in post-Soviet Russia are noted in
Markusova et al. (1999).
Thus: (1) the other (former) USSR republics include Ukraine, Byelarus, and Latvia; (2) East Europe includes Albania,
Bulgaria, German Democratic Republic, Poland, and (the component states of) Yugoslavia; (3) West Europe includes
(Federal Republic of) Germany, France, Iceland, Malta, and Finland; (4) North America consists of Canada and the USA;
and (5) the Far East includes Japan, both Chinas and both Koreas.
In detail: The physical sciences include SCs for physics, chemistry, astronomy, earth sciences, engineering, computer
science, and material sciences. The life sciences include SCs for biology (including environmental and behavioral
sciences), the medical and health-related sciences (including veterinary sciences), and agricultural sciences (including
forestry). In borderline cases, an SC is assigned to the life sciences where we judged the ‘life’ aspect to predominate -- as,
eg, in biochemistry, biophysics, biotechnology, clinical chemistry and pharmacology.
‘Multidisciplinary sciences’ is assigned to an average of 6% of documents, with steadily falling yearly values from 1980
to 2000, and ‘mathematics’ to an average of 3% of documents, with values rising from 1990. The physical sciences/life
sciences intersection, though increasing with time, is less than 2%.
The already-noted drop and levelling off of the Canadian annual scientific output after 1995, giving a somewhat similar
output profile to Russia’s (see Figure 2), derives from a reduction in government spending on science in the mid-1990s;
this has also reportedly produced a brain-drain from the country (Spurgeon, 2001). However, in contrast to Russia, the
Canadian downturn is greater in the physical than in the life sciences (Figures 10a, 10b).
Expenditures in the Science & Engineering Indicators table are given in billions of rubles in constant 1989 prices, from
1990 to 1997. A comparison with common data in Gokhberg (1999b) provides the factor necessary for the conversion of
the 1996 and 1997 data: million ECUs (1990) / billion rubles (1989) = 1652.
Output expenditure data for Ukraine parallel those for Russia, though the post-dissolution decline begins earlier.
Spending in 1989 exceeded that of 1985 by 46% while the 1989 output exceeded that of 1985 by 3%. Spending in 1993
was 34% of the 1989 maximum value, while the 1993 output was 55% of the 1989 maximum.
Our data agree with other studies carried out on the SCI database. We find the USSR’s share of the World scientific
output between 1980 and 1990 to be c.8%, and possibly even c.9%, though falling through the period; Schubert et al. 1989
report it to have fallen from c.8% in 1981 to c.7% in 1985 while Miquel & Okubo (1994) report it to average c.7%
between 1981 and 1992. (We estimate that Soviet Russia produced about 75% of the annual output of the USSR between
1980 and 1990). The ISI In-cites Series measures Russia’s share of the World scientific output between 1996 and 2000 to
be 3.7%, cf. our value of 3.8% for 2000 (Russian Science, 1996-2000, 2001).
In a personal communication to Garfield (1990a), Z. A. Medvedeev notes that many prominent Soviet researchers in
nuclear physics were not even allowed to publish in Soviet journals – “they mostly prepare ‘closed’ reports”. More
recently, Goldberg et al. (1997), found Russian medical journals to be ‘more parochial in content [than their USA
counterparts], reporting mainly local research’. Markusova et al (2001), in a study of papers produced with funding from
the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) in 1997, found that only c.60% appeared in journals covered by ISI.
On this topic: (a) A reviewer has suggested that the decline we report in the Russian output in the 1990s might result
from a major reduction in the number of Russian journals selected for the SCI database, ie. not from their cessation or
diminished size. This database was chosen as it provides a set of original research papers, originating from Russian (and
other) addresses, which are of a (consistent) high standard in their respective subject areas through the twenty year period.
We assume that the selection standard applied to any national literature has not varied though time. The actual
composition of journals, Russian or otherwise, at any time is not directly relevant. (b) Nevertheless, we checked SCI source
journals listed as ‘Russian’ for each year in the period of study. From 1980 to 1997 we consulted the printed SCI Annual
Guides (in earlier years we used estimates from the USSR listing) and for 1998 to 2002 we consulted SciSearch. (The data
are preliminary: they have not been checked as in the Methodology: Problem 2). From 1980 to 1992, the number of
journals selected was c.115; thereafter it fell by c.11 journals per year to a minimum in 1996-1997 of c.72 (or 63% of the
1992 value); from 1998 to 2002, the number of journals selected was c.107. Though the large reduction through the mid-
1990s likely bears on the reduced document output that we report then, it has no bearing on the collapse from 1991 to
1993; nor has the late-1990s increase in selected journals produced any appreciable rise in document output then. In fact,
as the profile of the number of selected journals tracks the profile of document output with a lag of several years, it is likely
that journals were deselected because of prior falls in their Impact Factors to unacceptable levels. (c) This suggestion is
supported by the finding that the average impact (or citations per paper) from 1996 to 2000 of Russian scientific papers --
in journals still taken as source publications by ISI -- lies 20% to 82% below the World average, depending on their field
(Russian Science, 1996-2000, 2001); but weakened by a recognition of the low citation impacts for Russian papers in
general even in the period 1985 to 1992 (Russian science seen from the west, 1994). (d) It must be acknowledged that
some part of the 1993-1996 fall in selected ‘Russian’ journals (and of the subsequent recovery) could result from a possible
‘defect’ in the application of the selection criterion in a time of transition from Soviet to Russian journals. Unless a new
Russian journal was treated by ISI as a continuation of an already-selected formal or ‘de facto’ Soviet predecessor, there
would be a time lag of several years before it could (re)establish it’s impact credentials for selection. As stated in the text,
this topic certainly warrants a more detailed study.
(a) Over the period 1981-1985 for the SCI database, Schubert & Braun (1990) report a slightly lower rate of
collaboration on papers for the whole USSR (3%) than we found for Soviet Russia in 1980 and in 1985 (5%, see Figure 6),
and similar rates for France, Canada and Italy (14-15%). Using a special index to remove the effects of the size of total
output in comparisons, they find that the USSR had the lowest level of collaboration of the 36 most productive countries;
France, Canada and Italy rate 2nd, 3rd and 9th, respectively. (b) That East European countries (East Germany,
Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland) as well as the USA, West Germany and France, are the major
collaborative partners of the USSR in the period 1981-1986 is clearly shown in Figure 4 of Luukkonen et al (1992) – cf.
our Figures 8 and Table 1. Other displays of collaborative links between countries in the authorship of papers, variously
measured, emphasize the importance of these East European states to the USSR (Schubert & Braun (op. cit.), Luukkonnen
et al (1993), Miquel & Okubo et al. 1994)). With respect to post-Soviet Russia, Markusova et al (1999) report a 63%
increase in collaboration on papers from 1993 and 1997 with the USA alone.
The rise in international collaboration shown on Russian scientific papers since 1985, as well as those of France, Canada
and Italy, conforms to global trends in research (also see Wagner et al, 2001). For example, the percentage of collaborative
papers produced from university researchers in the UK, Australia and the whole World grew between 1981 and 1991 from
18% to 29%, from 12% to 20%, and from 6% to 11%, respectively, (Lattimore and Revesz, 1996, p.21), ie. at average rates
similar to those shown in Figure 6. The percentage of collaborative R&D papers produced by European and by Japanese
companies grew between 1980 and 1989 from 31% to 52%, and from 22% to 33%, respectively, (Hicks et al, 1996), ie.
again at average rates similar to those in Figure 6.
Research collaboration within or across countries tends to be geographically localised (Katz, 1994; Hicks et al., 1996)
suggesting that it is promoted by face-to-face contact (Salter & Martin, 2001). Sher (2000) notes that without good
funding researchers lose access to international conferences and more distant institutions, and even to journals and
electronic databases: for Russian researchers, economic constraints have partially substituted for the earlier political
constraints on international collaboration.
(a) Published data broadly support our results on the subject orientation of annual scientific output of Russia, admittedly
using the same data base, and assuming Soviet Russia and the USSR to be similar. Data from the survey of Schubert et al
1989 for 1981-1985 may be aggregated to show that 74% of the (natural) science papers produced by he USSR were in
categories belonging to the physical sciences, and 25% in the life sciences – the life science/physical science ratio is 0.35.
Comparable data for France, Canada and Italy are, respectively, 44% vs. 52% (1.2), 38% vs. 59% (1.6), and 45% vs. 53%
(1.2). A slightly different approach has been used for data in the ISI In-cites Series for 1996-2000. Russia produced 5.7%
of the World’s papers in seven categories belonging to the physical sciences, and 1.2% in 11 categories belonging to the
life sciences – the life science/physical science ratio is 0.2. Comparable data for France, Canada and Italy are, respectively,
7.3% vs. 5.9% (0.8), 4.5% vs. 5.4% (0.8), and 4.5% vs. 5.4% (1.2). (b) The preeminence of the physical sciences in Soviet
Russia is also apparent in the influence of published works in the ISI database. For example, Garfield (1990a) found that
of the 100 most cited Soviet authors for the period 1973-1988, 68 were physicists, chemists or space scientists, and 32 life
scientists; Garfield (1990b) found that for the same period 69% of top-cited Soviet papers were in subject categories
belonging to the physical sciences (including a small mathematics component) and the remainder belonged to the life
sciences. Data in the ISI In-cites Series for Russia from 1996-2000 show that the average impact (or citations per paper)
with respect to the World averages is higher for 7 categories belonging to the physical sciences than for 11 categories
belonging to the life sciences.
Further to footnote 12: A reviewer has suggested that the disproportionate decline we report in the Russian life sciences
output between 1990 and 1995 may result from a disproportionate reduction in the number of Russian life science journals
selected for the SCI database in the mid-1990s, rather than from a disproportionate rate of cessation, submissions, or etc.
Again, using data in the appropriate SCI Annual Guides, we have made rough estimates of the numbers of Russian life
sciences and physical sciences journals which were acquisitioned for SCI in 1990 and 1995. There has certainly been a
disproportionate reduction in the number of life science journals selected: between 1990 and 1995, while physical science
journals were reduced to 73%, life science journals were reduced to 53%; in 1985, c.28% of journals selected were life
sciences journals, but in 1995, c.21% were. We doubt that this appreciably alters our main conclusions. And again we
would argue for the importance of maintaining consistent (high) standards in the selection of original research papers for a
country through the period studied. Our assumption is that the (papers in) the deselected journals did not qualify --
however, see Footnote 12, section (d). An argument supporting a disproportionate general decline in life science papers
from Russia is the fall in international collaboration on these papers from 1993 to 1997, even as that in physical science
papers, already higher than that in the life sciences, increased (Markusova et al, 1999). Interestingly, even for the period
1982 to 1987 when the life sciences were receiving improved financial support and their output was increasing,
Markusova & Griffith (1991) found that while the Impact Factors of a set of Russian physical science journals rose from at
a faster rate than for their western counterparts, those of a set of Russian life science journals fell.
We note variously that papers in Pharmacology are the most highly cited Russian papers in the period 1996-2000
(Russian Science, 2001); that top life science institutes and programs do draw western support (Aldhous, 1994); and that
political disfavour could be shown to theories in the physical science just as well as in the life sciences in Soviet Russia,
eg. towards plate tectonics (Kerr, 1994).
Kealey’s (1996) argument concerns the economic return to a nation from investment in R&D. He does not repudiate
government spending on science for its ‘cultural worth’, nor for health, environmental care and defense (Kealey &
Rudenski, 1998) -- though a more zealous advocate might! That the argument is quite polemical is on display in reviews of
Kealey’s 1996 book; for example, the anonymous review in the Economist (1996) and Shughart (1997), which are
complementary; and Wilkie (1996), Nelson (1997) and Stoneman (1997), which aren’t.
Though public control of the economy was integral to communist ideology per se, the forced collectivisation of
agriculture and massive industrialization began only after Josef Stalin had fully consolidated his power, around 1930, and
many of its characteristics have more to do with social pathology. For a relevant case, see Graham (1998, pp.53-56) for the
almost arbitrary persecution of scientists.
That the size of a national science base broadly correlates with national expenditure on science, or more generally on
GDP per capita, is well-established; the science base may be measured as (eg.) the number of personnel or the numbers of
papers or patents produced per capita of population. An early study is that of Price (1969); also see, variously, Fagerberg
(1987), Narin (1991), Kealey (1996, pp.237-240), and Lattimore and Revesz (1996). The Figure in Peteri (1995) clearly
displays the strategy of the USSR and other communist nations of maintaining a disproportionately large R&D base for
their economic size vis-à-vis western nations.
Thus, Ushkalov & Malakha (2000) estimate that in the late 1990s, some 60% of measurement instruments in Russian
science institutes could be at least 15 years old, whereas in the West such instruments would be considered obsolete after
five years.
In 1995 business enterprises contributed only 7% to R&D expenditure; the expectation was that their contribution would
be higher (Gokhberg, 1999a). By 1997 business support appears to have increased appreciably though one estimate is that
the government still provides c.60% of support for R&D (UNESCO, 2001, p.13). Also Berdaskevich (2000) estimates that
in 1998 the state still owned 73% of R&D organizations.
In 1996/1997 Russia’s stated gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) as a percentage of its GDP was only 0.9%; the World
average was then 1.6%, the European Union average was 1.8%, and the USA value 2.9% (UNESCO, 2001). However,
considerably less than the stated value was actually paid out to Russian science, possibly as little as a third in 1996
(Science in Russia, 1997). For comparison, the 1990 GERD/GDP ratio of the USSR was c.2%, equal to the then-OECD
average value, with the GDP considerably stronger (Gohkberg, 1999a).