The Journal Project of the Russian Dissernet

Andrey Rostovtsev,1 Alexei Kassian,2 Vasiliy Vlassov,3 Anna Abalkina,4 Larisa Melikhova5


Dissernet is a voluntary organization of Russian scientists devoted to the identification of research misconduct, primarily plagiarism in dissertations. Over 4 years, and counting only multipage plagiarism, Dissernet identified and made public more than 6000 falsified dissertations. To further study the issue of misconduct, Dissernet inaugurated the Journal Project in 2016, with the aim of systematically identifying publication or research misconduct (plagiarism, duplicate publications, gifted and stolen authorship, fake peer reviews, and other violations) in Russian scientific journals.


Russian journals were chosen from the Register of Scientific Journals of the Higher Attestation Commission of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, where it is recommended that PhD candidates publish their papers as a means of working with officially recognized journals. Full text of all articles published in the selected journals was studied. All text mining was performed semiautomatically using special software, with review by study investigators for quality assurance.


As of February 2017, more than 3000 of 100,000 journal articles contained evidence of research misconduct. A subsample of 1000 articles with more than 80% text duplication contained evidence of plagiarism (38%), duplicate publications (37%), and fictitious authorship, including names of authors who do not exist (25%). Research misconduct was most frequently identified in publications relating to economics, law, and the pedagogical sciences. Misbehaving journals may be categorized as (1) predatory journals (high yield of plagiarism, distinguished by a large volume of short reports in different subject areas; sharp increase in number of published reports; absence of recognized expert scientists on the editorial board; or maximum cost saving on the editorial and publishing process, visible from poor editing, layout, and web presentation); (2) traditional journals (review process is formal or does not exist at all; editorial process is of low quality; low attractiveness to degree candidates because of low citation rate and other metrics); and (3) journals informally collaborating with the dissertation councils (“disser-collaborating” journals; these dissertation councils approve a high number of falsified dissertations containing plagiarism, and members of these councils are members of the editorial boards of these journals).


Scientific periodicals in Russia are in a catastrophic state. We believe this is an outcome of the weakness of scientific expertise in society in general since the Soviet era. Moreover, the official formal criteria for publications, which are difficult to meet for the average degree candidate, may in part account for the pressure to manipulate publications.

1Institute for Information Transmission Problems, Moscow, Russia; 2Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia; 3National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, vlassov@cochrane.ru; 4Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia; 5T-Systems, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

: None reported.


: None reported.