A dispute over the naming of Russian institutes in scientific studies is causing a unique backlog of publications in particle physics. Thousands of physicists who were involved in experiments at the particle accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Geneva have not seen the results of their work published in specialist journals for months, as Cern research director Joachim Mnich told the German Press Agency. There are now around 200 studies, half of which have already been assessed by independent experts (peer review) and theoretically approved for publication.
Specialist journals insist that authors be clearly identified. This usually happens by naming their institutes. However, some Cern cooperation partners block this in the case of Russian institutes, as Mnich says. One of the stumbling blocks is that the governing bodies of some of these institutes have backed the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
Publications are important for researchers
"Publications are the hard currency of science, both for the careers of young people and for applications for funding," said Mnich. The pressure to come to a solution is increasing. The CERN studies are already published as preliminary work when they are submitted to specialist journals. But in some countries doctoral theses could only be completed if the authors have published in peer-reviewed journals. That is not the case in Germany.
It's not about not naming authors who have contributed to a study, stressed Mnich. It's about the institutes. An alternative could be to identify the participants using their ORCID number. Such an identifier, which stands for "Open Researcher
The CERN experiments are accompanied by a collaboration committee in which all contributing institutes have a vote. So far, no agreement has been found there. Cern has terminated the cooperation with Russia and Belarus. But they will run until 2024. "This is a very emotional issue, which makes it difficult to find an acceptable compromise," said Mnich.