Science and Technology in Russian Federation

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Dynasty? Dynasty!

Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation included the "Dynasty" non-profit Foundation in the register of foreign agents on May, 25. Dmitry Zimin, the founder (and in fact - the owner) of the Foundation, said that he plans to close it in connection with this decision. Zimin didn’t hidden that if his decision will be supported by other persons from the management of the fund, the fund will not act at the territory of "unknown state". This event caused a wide discussion.

A number of the requests to abandon the decision to include the fund in the register of foreign agents were published in the press even before the exercise of the Ministry of Justice. In particular, the "Dynasty" was supported by the Council for Science at the Ministry of Education of Russia on May, 11, and by the Commission on combat with pseudoscience of the Russian Academy of Sciences on May, 12.

A number of leading Russian scientists working abroad, including Yefim Zel'manov, the Fields laureate, and Andrei Geim, Nobel prize winner, published an open letter in support of the "Dynasty" Foundation on May, 29. At the moment it has been signed by more than 250 scientists. "Despite the observed recent increase in state support for Russian universities, the emergence of new public funds and grant programs, it is known that none of the budgets of even the richest state of the world can fully ensure the development of science. Activities of private philanthropists is absolutely necessary to support educational programs for youth, new breakthrough researches, humanitarian projects", - is said in the letter.

The Congress of the International NGO "Astronomical Society" expressed concerns about the situation around the "Dynasty" Foundation on the same day. "Calling the fund’s activity the activity of foreign agents is completely illogical. The law, which allows to label the organization that have made such a significant contribution to the education of the Russians obviously, needs to be corrected" – is believed in the organization.

A statement of the Public Council of the Ministry of Education and Science, which also cited arguments in favor of the lifting of the decision of the Russian Justice Ministry, was issued on June, 1. "Assignment a foreign agent status to the "Dynasty" will lead to serious difficulties in its work - from increasing the bureaucratic burden to the difficulties in cooperation with state and municipal authorities. In this regard, it has been already announced in fact the closure of the fund", - is emphasized in a statement.

At the same time the Ministry of Justice said on June 1 that "Dynasty" funded the "Liberal Mission" Science Foundation of theoretical and applied researches, which, according to the agency, is involved in political activities and also was introduced in the register of foreign agents.

The Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation apologized to Dmitry Zimin and Yevgeny Yasin for the inclusion of "Dynasty" and "Liberal mission" in the register of foreign agents NGOs, on the same day, June 1. Council members called on Alexander Konovalov, the Minister of Justice, to cancel the decision on labeling these funds as foreign agents. "If this is not done, we believe it is essential to achieve the abolition of the court. A notorious law (on the Foreign Agents - STRF) should be immediately either corrected or declared invalid. There is no third way", - is said in a statement of the council.

Piquet in defense of the "Dynasty" Foundation was held in Novosibirsk Akademgorodok on June, 1. A day later the Moscow authorities have agreed the piquet in support of "Dynasty" scheduled for June, 6, to be held on Suvorov Square from 14:00 to 16:00.

And finally, a small editorial. We conducted a small study of various organizations (government and public) for their efficiencyusing bibliometric data from the Web of Science and SCI bases three years ago. We have selected the following "organization" - the channels of funding for researches that may be reliably distinguished by WOS means:

  1. Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research.
  2. Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.
  3. Grants of the President of the Russian Federation for support of young Russian scientists and leading scientific schools.
  4. "Dynasty" Foundation of non-profit programs.
  5. Regional public fund of assistance to domestic science.

We considered the average quotation of 1 article published in 2009 to be the most important indicator. For "Dynasty" Foundation of non-profit programs it was 5.29 in March 2012, significantly higher than the results of all these funding channels, also higher than average citation of physical articles in Russia in general and with the support of RFFR. This excess can be explained in the most logical way by better examination of applications and selecting winners for the non-state fund in comparison with the RFFR and the Council for Grants of the President of the Russian Federation. Furthermore "Dynasty" Foundation of non-profit programs is partly an additional filter, selecting and awarding the best participants of the RFFR grants: around 50% of the articles mentioning Foundation of Dmitry Zimin, and perhaps even more, also mention the support of RFFR.

The highest rate of citations is recorded by us in "Dynasty" non-government grant foundation. Top 10 journals that published articles mentioning "Dynasty", contains the largest number of foreign publications, the average impact factor of the top 10 magazines of the fund is much higher than of the others, state channels. This indicates a more efficient activity of the "Dynasty" in selection of the winners and administration of grants.

If we assume that the nature of the "Dynasty" foundation’s activity can hardly change over the past three years (most likely - improve), then it seems to us, it is inappropriate to put the organization out of the law because of formal reasons.

On behalf of the editorial office of the "Science and Technology of RF"

K.V. Kiselev,
CEO of "Park-Media" LLC,
Executive Director
of "Open Economy" Centre,
Member of the Board on Education and Science at the
Chairman of the State Duma
of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation,


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