The post-Soviet publication landscape for higher education research


We studied the population of articles on higher education published in academic journals by researchers from post-Soviet countries in the last three decades. We found that post-Soviet countries contribute differently to the overall publication output, with only Russia, Lithuania, and Estonia having more than 100 articles in journals indexed in Scopus. Countries also have different publication profiles in terms of articles’ language, topics, methodology, and the balance between articles in local and international journals. In comparison with a sample of international articles, post-Soviet authors publish a substantially smaller share of research articles, and articles about teaching and learning issues, student experience and outcomes, and academic work, but a larger share of policy-related articles and articles about system policy and history. Researchers from one post-Soviet country collaborate much less within their country compared with authors from the international sample, where people collaborate more actively between institutions within a country. At the same time, scholars from different post-Soviet countries do not collaborate with each other. Our analysis demonstrates the disunity of the community of post-Soviet scholars disconnected by national borders.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Allik, J. (2003). The quality of science in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania after the first decade of independence. Trames Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(1), 40–52.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Allik, J. (2015). Progress in Estonian science. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, 64(2), 125–126.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Altbach, P. G. (2014). The emergence of a field: Research and training in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 39(8), 1306–1320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Andrews, A. (1978). Spatial patterns of higher education in the Soviet Union. Soviet Geography, 19(7), 443–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Balzer, H. D. (1991). From hypercentralization to diversity: Continuing efforts to restructure soviet education. Technology in Society, 13(1–2), 123–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chankseliani, M. (2017). Charting the development of knowledge on Soviet and post-Soviet education through the pages of comparative and international education journals. Comparative Education, 53(2), 265–283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Daenekindt, S., & Huisman, J. (2020). Mapping the scattered field of research on higher education. A correlated topic model of 17,000 articles, 1991–2018. In Higher Education.

    Google Scholar 

  8. David-Fox, M. (1997). Revolution of the mind: Higher learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918–1929. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press.

  9. De Witt, N. (1961). Education and professional employment in the USSR. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Fiala, D., & Willett, P. (2015). Computer science in Eastern Europe 1989-2014: A bibliometric study. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 67(5), 526–541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ganguli, I. (2014). Scientific brain drain and human capital formation after the end of the Soviet Union. International Migration, 52(5), 95–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gokhberg, L., Kuznetsova, T., & Zaichenko, S. (2011). Russia: Universities in the context of reforming the national innovation system. In B. Göransson, C. Brundenius (Ed.), Universities in transition. Insight and Innovation in International Development (pp. 247–260). New York: Springer.

  13. Gokhberg, L., & Nekipelova, E. (2002). International migration of scientists and engineers in Russia. In International mobility of the highly skilled (pp. 177–187). OECD publishing.

  14. Gornitzka, Å. (2013). The interface between research and policy – A note with potential relevance for higher education. European Journal of Higher Education, 3(3), 255–264.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gorodnikova, N., Gokhberg, L., Ditkovskiy, K., Kotsemir, M., Kuznetsova, I., Lukinova, E., et al. (2018). Indikatory nauki: 2018: Statisticheskij sbornik [science and technology indicators: 2018: Data book]. Moscow: National Research University Higher School of Economics.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Graham, L. R. (1992). Big science in the last years of the big Soviet Union. Osiris, 7, 49–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Graham, L. R., & Dezhina, I. (2008). Science in the new Russia: Crisis, aid, reform. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

  18. Guzmán-Valenzuela, C. (2018). Internationalization of higher education studies in Latin America. In P. Teixeira & J. Shin (Eds.), Encyclopedia of international higher education systems and institutions (pp. 1–9). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Guzmán-Valenzuela, C., & Gómez, C. (2019). Advancing a knowledge ecology: Changing patterns of higher education studies in Latin America. Higher Education, 77(1), 115–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gzoyan, E. G., Hovhannisyan, L. A., Aleksanyan, S. A., Ghazaryan, N. A., Hunanyan, S. R., Bourghida, A., & Sargsyan, S. A. (2015). Comparative analysis of the scientific output of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Scientometrics, 102(1), 195–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Horta, H., & Jung, J. (2014). Higher education research in Asia: An archipelago, two continents or merely atomization? Higher Education, 68(1), 117–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Huisman, J., Smolentseva, A., & Froumin, I. (2018). 25 Years of transformations of higher education systems in post-Soviet countries. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Johnson, M. (1996). Western models and Russian realities in Postcommunist education. Tertium Comparationis: Journal Für Internationale Bildungsforschung, 2(2), 119–132.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Jung, J., & Horta, H. (2013). Higher education research in Asia: A publication and co-publication analysis. Higher Education Quarterly, 67(4), 398–419.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Jung, J., & Horta, H. (2015). The contribution of East Asian countries to internationally published Asian higher education research: The role of system development and internationalization. Higher Education Policy, 28(S4), 419–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Jung, J., Horta, H., & Yonezawa, A. (2018). Researching higher education in Asia. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kim, Y., Horta, H., & Jung, J. (2017). Higher education research in Hong Kong, Japan, China, and Malaysia: Exploring research community cohesion and the integration of thematic approaches. Studies in Higher Education, 42(1), 149–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kozak, M., Bornmann, L., & Leydesdorff, L. (2015). How have the Eastern European countries of the former Warsaw Pact developed since 1990? A bibliometric study. Scientometrics, 102(2), 1101–1117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Krementsov, N. (1996). Stalinist science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Kristapsons, J., Martinson, H., & Dagyte, I. (2003). Baltic R&D systems in transitions: experiences and future prospects. Riga: Zinâtne, Academic Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Kuzhabekova, A., Hendel, D. D., & Chapman, D. W. (2015). Mapping global research on international higher education. Research in Higher Education, 56(8), 861–882.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lauk, K., & Allik, J. (2018). A puzzle of Estonian science: How to explain unexpected rise of the scientific impact. Trames Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 22(4), 329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Lovakov, A., & Agadullina, E. (2019). Bibliometric analysis of publications from post-Soviet countries in psychological journals in 1992–2017. Scientometrics, 119(2), 1157–1171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Macfarlane, B. (2012). The higher education research archipelago. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(1), 129–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Markusova, V. A., Jansz, M., Libkind, A. N., Libkind, I., & Varshavsky, A. (2009). Trends in Russian research output in post-Soviet era. Scientometrics, 79(2), 249–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Narodnoe obrazovanie i kul’tura v SSSR (Statisticheskij sbornik) [Public education and culture in the USSR (Data Book)]. (1989). Moscow: Finansy i statistika.

  37. Ordorika, I., & Rodríguez-Gómez, R. (2018). Field of higher education research in Latin America. In P. Teixeira & J. Shin (Eds.), Encyclopedia of international higher education systems and institutions (pp. 1–8). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Pan, L., & An, T. (2020). The evolutionary characteristics of higher education studies worldwide: Central themes and regions. In Studies in Higher Education (pp. 1–13).

    Google Scholar 

  39. SCImago (n.d.). SJR — SCImago Journal & Country Rank [Portal]. Retrieved from

  40. Sivak, E., & Yudkevich, M. (2015). Academic immobility and inbreeding in Russian university sector. In M. Yudkevich, P. G. Altbach, & L. E. Rumbley (Eds.), Academic Inbreeding and Mobility in Higher Education. Global Perspectives (pp. 130–155). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  41. Smolentseva, A., Huisman, J., & Froumin, I. (2018). Transformation of higher education institutional landscape in post-soviet countries: From soviet model to where? In J. Huisman, A. Smolentseva, & I. Froumin (Eds.), 25 years of transformations of higher education Systems in Post-Soviet Countries (pp. 1–43). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Sologub, I., & Coupé, T. (2015). Academic inbreeding in Ukraine. In M. Yudkevich, P. G. Altbach, & L. E. Rumbley (Eds.), Academic Inbreeding and Mobility in Higher Education. Global Perspectives (pp. 228–258). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  43. Steinhardt, I., Schneijderberg, C., Götze, N., Baumann, J., & Krücken, G. (2017). Mapping the quality assurance of teaching and learning in higher education: The emergence of a specialty? Higher Education, 74(2), 221–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Sterligov, I., & Savina, T. (2016). Riding with the metric tide: ‘Predatory’ journals in Scopus. Higher Education in Russia and Beyond, 1(7), 9–12 Retrieved from

    Google Scholar 

  45. Teichler, U. (2005). Research on higher education in Europe. European Journal of Education, 40(4), 447–469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Tight, M. (2004). Research into higher education: An a-theoretical community of practice? Higher Education Research & Development, 23(4), 395–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Wai Lo, W. Y., & Kit Ng, F. S. (2015). Trends and developments of higher education research in Hong Kong: In pursuit of a cosmopolitan vision. Higher Education Policy, 28(4), 517–534.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Yokoyama, K. (2016). Reflections on the field of higher education: Time, space and sub-fields. European Journal of Education, 51(4), 550–563.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Yudkevich, M. (2014). The Russian University: Recovery and rehabilitation. Studies in Higher Education, 39(8), 1463–1474.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Zavadskas, E. K., Kirvaitis, R., & Dagienė, E. (2011). Scientific publications released in the Baltic States. Scientometrics, 88(1), 179–190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank Liudmila Ugolnova for her excellent research assistance. We are also grateful to participants of the 19th HSE International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development (2018) and the CHER 31th Annual Conference (2018) for their comments and fruitful feedback.


The article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and supported within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project '5-100'."

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrey Lovakov.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



Table 5 Description of the topics
Table 6 Journals with highest number of articles
Table 7 Article language
Table 8 Percentage of different article types among articles with different collaboration patterns
Table 9 Characteristics of the empirical articles in different journals

International higher education journals for comparison

Active Learning in Higher Education

Arts and Humanities in Higher Education

Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education

Christian Higher Education

Higher Education

Higher Education Policy

Higher Education Quarterly

Higher Education Research and Development

Innovative Higher Education

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

International Perspectives on Higher Education Research

Internet and Higher Education

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

Journal of Computing in Higher Education

Journal of Continuing Higher Education

Journal of Diversity in Higher Education

Journal of Further and Higher Education

Journal of Geography in Higher Education

Journal of Higher Education

Journal of Hispanic Higher Education

Journal of Marketing for Higher Education

Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education

Quality in Higher Education

Research in Higher Education

Review of Higher Education

Studies in Higher Education

Teaching in Higher Education

Tertiary Education and Management

International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lovakov, A., Yudkevich, M. The post-Soviet publication landscape for higher education research. High Educ 81, 273–299 (2021).

Download citation


  • Higher education research
  • Post-Soviet countries
  • Journal articles
  • Research collaboration
  • International collaboration
  • Academic community