Ukraine may have lost 20% of its pre-war scientific research capacity

Ukraine may have lost about 20% of its scientific research capacity – time directly spent by scientists on research activities – as a consequence of the Russia-Ukraine war, according to international researchers. The team surveyed 2,559 scientists online between September and December 2022, and found that over 17% of scientists who were research-active in Ukraine before the war may have left the scientific research sector by December 2022. These estimates are likely to be conservative, according to the team, who say the scientists most affected by the war are less likely to have responded to the survey.

Journal/conference: Humanities & Social Sciences Communications

Link to research (DOI): 10.1057/s41599-023-02346-x

Organisation/s: Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Funder: No funding information provided.

Media release

From: Springer Nature

Scientific community: Ukraine may have lost 20% of its pre-war scientific research capacity

Ukraine may have lost about 20% of its scientific research capacity — time directly spent by scientists on research activities — as a consequence of the Russia-Ukraine war. The findings, published in Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, also suggest that over 17% of scientists who were research active in Ukraine before the war may have left the scientific research sector by December 2022.

Since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, there has been disruption to many sectors of the Ukrainian economy, including the Ukrainian scientific research sector. However, it has so far proved difficult to quantify many of the key impacts of the ongoing war on the sector.

Gaétan de Rassenfosse and colleagues surveyed a representative cohort of 2,559 scientists online between 21 September and 8 December 2022. All surveyed scientists were employed by a Ukrainian research institution when Russia invaded on 24th February 2022 and had spent on average three or more hours per week on research activities over the three years preceding the war. The authors found that 18.5% of the surveyed scientists had left Ukraine since the start of the war, similar to the overall percentage of the Ukrainian population who had left in the same time frame. Scientists who were more productive and research-active were more likely to have left. The authors also found that 17.6% of the scientists had left academia or scientific research, with those who had emigrated 17% more likely to have left academia or scientific research than those who remained. Finally, the average time per week each scientist spent on research activities had reduced from 13 hours to 10 hours, equating to Ukraine having lost about 20% of its scientific research capacity.

The authors note that their estimates are likely to be conservative, as the scientists most affected by the war are less likely to have responded to the survey. They also highlight that, although 58% of the emigrant scientists were affiliated to a non-Ukrainian research organisation, only 14% had secured a long-term contract. Additionally, they note that 23.5% of the scientists who had remained in Ukraine had lost access to important resources required for their research as a result of the war. The authors suggest that addressing these two issues should be amongst the key priorities to help prevent further deterioration of Ukraine’s scientific research sector.

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