Despite numerous protests from scientists in Russia and abroad, President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill to reform the Academy of Sciences, the country’s leading scientific research establishment comprising about 50,000 researchers in its 434 affiliated institutions. The bill’s main provisions transfer the management of most academic property to a new federal government agency and merge three previously existing academies – focusing on the sciences in general, medicine and agriculture – into one, but bar the state from interfering in the academy’s scholarly activities.
Possible negative consequences of the reform are:
1. A considerable (two or three times) reduction of the number of institutes. It is feared that the main condition for taking the decision on liquidation of some institute will be not the quality of its work but the correlation of some formal parameters of financial and bibliometric character with those proposed by the new agency.
2. Reduction of the number of scientific members. Again the main criteria for firing a particular scientist may be of formal character such as the h-index or citation index in Web of Science.
3. A sharp increase in the bureaucratization of plans and annual reports.
4. A decline of academy journals and electronic editions, an unclear destiny of scientific collections, archives and museums, the destruction of the system of training of scientists.