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First, let me express my deepest concern for those in Ukraine and secondly, our strong condemnation of the Russian invasion. All those affected are in our thoughts and prayers.
Our position is one of privilege and we recognize this and will help as many Ukrainian scientists and people as possible. All our journals and books, as well as research material, are freely accessible in Ukraine. To make it possible for researchers to keep working, we do not want to put any restrictions in their path. Springer Nature and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group have pledged to help refugees, including scientists fleeing war-torn areas, with 1.5 million euros.
Many people have contacted me to inquire if manuscripts should be accepted from Russian researchers. Let me tell you why.
We have tried to make sure that all researchers, regardless of their race, gender or nationality, can collaborate in research projects throughout history. This has been done during numerous conflicts. It includes those authors who have been placed on sanctioned territory for no reason and can connect with others to continue making a positive impact. Even though there have been some appalling statements from leaders of Russian institutions supporting war, we still want to see bridges built of understanding between people despite war that risks driving them apart.
We must continue to evaluate manuscripts submitted by Russian authors as per the COPE guidelines. COPE makes the following statement:Editorial decisions shouldn’t be affected by origins, which includes the nationality, ethnicity and religion of authors. Government policies or any other agency should not affect editorial decisions.“
This may not be an area that one editor feels comfortable with. It is our request that an alternative editor be found in these instances to maintain compliance with COPE.
The situation is being reviewed and we’ll provide any updates that are needed.
It strikes me that this is quite correct. Although an article may be written by a Russian author it can have readers from all parts of the globe. While blocking publication can be detrimental to the author (and might place some pressure on Putin and other dictators seeking to follow this path), it is also harmful to scientists who are not allowed to access the material.
The body of human knowledge—the common property of all of humanity—progresses independently of the moral merits of the contributors or of the countries to which they belong. A Russian scientist who has discovered an important fact is entitled to be published. This will not only punish Russia, but also the rest of the globe. This is especially true because it’s possible that a blacklisting of scientists from a country based upon their transgressions, however serious they may be, will lead to similar demands for other countries based more controversial allegations of national misconduct.
If there are reasons to believe that some articles may be based on incorrect evidence or non-reliable methods, these articles must be examined and possibly rejected. The reliability of research must always be the main focus, and not the quality of researchers’ countries or the unrelated qualities of researchers.