Following the fall of communism, the development of social sciences in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has been characterised by efforts to join the international scientific community and its discussions (Pálné Kovács & Kutsar, 2010). While many disciplines have already achieved this aim, others are still struggling to contribute to international research and remain locked in their national frameworks, their research scopes fairly limited. Internationalisation has been especially difficult for political science, a discipline that was seen as an imperialist Western ‘pseudo-science’ (Malová & Miháliková, 2002) during the communist regime and therefore banned. Replaced by the dogmatic Marxism-Leninism which served the Communist Party, political science became fully established in the region only after the start of the political transformation at the very beginning of the 1990s (Klingemann, 2002). However, it has been struggling to join the international arena as the engagement of political science departments (PSDs) from CEE in international research activities remains limited (Eberle et al., 2021).

This paper examines the contribution of political science in Slovakia to the international political science discussion—i.e., its internationalisation. It does so by analysing publications by faculty members of Slovak PSDs, which can be seen as the primary (but not the only) means of presenting research and discussing its results internationally. Our research question asks whether the publication strategies of members of Slovak PSDs contribute to the internationalisation of Slovak political science.

This paper argues that the current situation is a case of ‘pseudo-internationalisation’. While faculty members of several PSDs conduct research with international impact and are trying to contribute to global knowledge by publishing in leading international outlets, the majority of Slovak political scientists are focused on the regional (and domestic) level, their collaborations and publications limited to a narrow geographic framework, primarily their immediate neighbourhood, but also the broader region. Although they seem to be engaged in internationalisation, their research is geographically bound and therefore has only limited (if any) impact on global-level discussions. This is not only the case with papers published in journals which are not indexed in major academic databases, but also those in journals included in Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus. A similar tendency can also be observed with book-length publications, where regional (and domestic) publishing houses are preferred over leading international outlets. This approach allows PSDs, which are part of public universities, to more easily fulfil the criteria for international publication set by the government than if they would engage in ‘real’ internationalisation.

We examined 17 political science and closely related departments (international relations, public policy, etc.) at Slovak public universities by analysing publications by their faculty members. We studied two types of academic outputs, the first being the ‘main’ publications (monographs and articles published in indexed journals), seen as the most important from the perspective of internationalisation, as well as department funding, career progression, etc. (Világi et al., 2022). To further support our arguments, we also considered a second group of academic outputs which we termed ‘other’ types of publications, bringing the total number of analysed units to 2660. Unlike similar studies (for example, Ghica, 2021; Schneider et al., 2013), we utilised a national database which includes all types of publications, not only those listed in international databases. This approach enabled us to go beyond the results of similar studies (focused on Slovakia but also other countries) which observed a lack of publications in indexed journals (see the following section). Thanks to the data from the national database, we determined that faculty members of Slovak PSDs do, in fact, publish much more than international databases reveal, but rarely (if ever) in indexed peer-reviewed journals. Our conclusions can serve as a blueprint for re-evaluating similar situations in other CEE (and other) countries where political scientists rarely publish in indexed journals, meaning that analyses of the main databases (WoS and/or Scopus) reveal only part of the whole story.

The structure of this paper is as follows: the following section presents existing research on political science in CEE in general and Slovakia in particular. The next section discusses internationalisation, its characteristics, and importance for science and generating knowledge. The paper then introduces the methodological underpinnings of our research, while the following section presents our results. We found only a few monographs from leading academic publishers and a small number of articles published in journals indexed in WoS or Scopus. Therefore, we also looked into other types of publications, which appear in much larger numbers, primarily in domestic and regional outlets. The discussion section examines our findings and claims that ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ is the dominant publication strategy at Slovak PSDs. We argue that this is a pragmatic approach adopted by employees of public universities who are expected to publish internationally, but, due to a lack of academic contacts outside their (immediate) neighbourhood, focus on this geographical area. The conclusion summarises our findings, presents the limits of our study, and offers avenues for future research.

Publications by Slovak political scientists

Slovak political science is historically and institutionally embedded in broader developments within CEE. The region has been studied from different perspectives, although its definition variesFootnote 1 (see Eisfeld and Pal (2010), who also include the Balkan countries and the Russian Federation into the mix, or Schneider et al. (2013), who include the former). Overall, existing research argues that the contribution of scholars from CEE to international political science discussions in terms of publications is limited. For example, they (along with women) are underrepresented in journals linked to the three major pan-European professional political research associations (ECPR, EPSA, and EISA; Ghica, 2021). Moreover, articles in one of these journals, the Political Data Yearbook, make up more than half of the publications from CEE countries (except Estonia). However, this journal publishes information on political developments in individual countries rather than original research, which limits the ability of its articles to contribute to discussions beyond providing data for future research.

Jokić et al. (2019) argue that there are major differences between the post-communist countries (CEE belongs in this category) when it comes to publications and internationalisation, with countries that entered the EU in 2004 being the most productive. Moreover, the authors argue that efforts to publish mostly in English “might be an indicator of the process of integration within the EU framework” (Jokić et al., 2019, p. 506). Although Eberle et al., (2021, p. 183) claim that “[w]ithout any doubt, CEE political science is now much more internationalised and Europeanised” than it was before, the overall conclusion of their analysis is less positive. They examined two concepts, convergence and dependency, in connection to the disciplineʼs periphery-core position. While the first concept argues that the region will eventually catch up with the rest of the EU, the latter claims that it will keep its subordinated position towards the core. The authors’ conclusions are close to the dependency paradigm as they maintain that “full-fledged convergence and graduation to the core remains unlikely in the foreseeable future” (Eberle et al., 2021, p. 200).

The development of Slovak political science has been examined since the 2000s; however, existing studies have not focused on publications and internationalisation but scrutinised the discipline as such. The 1990s were characterised by the emergence of the discipline in Slovakia and its very fast fragmentation caused by, inter alia, the polarisation of the society at large, which created a rift between pro-government PSDs and those opposing the 1994–1998 Mečiar government (Malová & Miháliková, 2002). During this period, publications “focus[ed] on gathering, presenting, and interpreting data on Slovakia” (Malová & Miháliková, 2002, p. 348), and were therefore only marginally engaged in broader discussions. Looking at publications by Slovak political scientists in international databases during the 2004–2008 period, Rybář (2010, p. 276) argues that “half of the departments have had no publications in international journals or books over the last five years”, with departments from one university (Comenius University) responsible for 85% of all publications.

Halás and Navrátil (2015) claim that Slovak PSDs are divided into two camps: those engaged in international cooperation in many forms and those focused on Slovak publication outlets and domestic research. Five years after Rybář’s analysis, Halás and Navrátilʼs study of the 2004–2013 period led them to conclude that “placing one’s own research outcomes at the global academic level and especially in peer-reviewed impacted [i.e., with assigned impact factor] journals abroad is still an underrepresented practice in the Slovak academic field” (Halás & Navrátil, 2015, p. 463). As a sub-discipline of political science, international relations in Slovakia were also examined with very similar results. Bátora and Hynek conclude that “[p]ublication outputs and research in general have invariably taken a form of empirical descriptions with only limited doses of theory and methodology having been infused” (Bátora & Hynek, 2009, p. 188). The authors, who examined the 2003–2007 period, also mention significant differences between departments in terms of publication outputs, with only two able to contribute to global academic discussions.

This paper aims to contribute to our knowledge about the publication outputs of faculty members of Slovak PSDs and the ability of these publications to contribute to global discussions by analysing the latest data. Unlike previous studies, we are utilising a domestic database of publications, which provides us with a more detailed insight into the publication strategies of Slovak political scientists in general and their contribution to the internationalisation of Slovak political science in particular.

Internationalisation of political science

We understand internationalisation of national-level science in general and political science in particular as a process in which national departments increasingly engage with developments, discussions, and research as such at the global level. This is important for (political science) departments and their members not only as a means of supporting the development of general scientific knowledge and overall scientific progress, but also because internationalisation enables them to benefit from international collaboration, participate in big (Europe-wide) research projects, or attract new talent from abroad (Boncourt et al., 2022). Internationalisation in general (not only in terms of publications) is at the heart of science itself and political science is no exception (Engeli et al., 2022)—there is only one science that is done at the global level, contributing, together with education, to “a global common good” (UNESCO, 2015, p. 77). The internationalisation of departments is the way to join and contribute to it while also benefiting from mutual cooperation.

While internationalisation is connected to many activities of departments and their members (Engeli et al., 2022), including research (Iosava & Roxå, 2019) and teaching (Galloway et al., 2020), it has been recognised as an important aspect of global competition within higher education in terms of publishing (Gao, 2018; Xu, 2020). Focusing on internationalisation allows researchers to present their ideas at the international level, where main academic discussions take place. Internationalisation thus enables them to engage in global-level conversations with their colleagues, which not only means that their ideas will be scrutinised by the research community at large, but also that they have an opportunity to increase our understanding of the examined phenomena and add to general knowledge. Any alternatives to this strategy (for example, discussions held only at the domestic and/or regional level) do not allow for such contributions and are therefore only of limited value to the research community.

However, such arguments are often challenged by the fact that existing knowledge systems are biased towards arguments and ideas coming especially from the USA and UK (Marginson, 2022; see also the following section and critical remarks on the main databases). However, while these two countries still dominate political science publication outputs, “indicators consistently point to a generalised growth in the output and internationalisation of the scientific contribution of the European political science community” (Carammia, 2022, p. 17). Ortega-Ruiz et al. (2021), who studied Spainʼs efforts to internationalise its political science research, observed significant positive developments in this regard, particularly due to institutional (a new accreditation model introduced in 2002) and environmental (scarcity of positions due to economic recession) factors. These “motivated younger cohorts of political scientists to […] prioritise international publications, particularly in indexed peer-reviewed journals” (2021, p. 180). Internationalised research in Italy (Capano & Verzichelli, 2016) is gradually moving beyond the few main research hubs and spreading to other universities.

This article examines the contribution of members of Slovak PSDs to discussions conducted at the international level in the form of publications in major outlets, where crucial discussions are taking place. In this way the present research examines the internationalisation of Slovak PSDs. The following section presents the methods we used to collect and analyse our data.


We began our analysis of the internationalisation of Slovak PSDs by identifying these departments at Slovak public universities. In addition to PSDs, we also considered departments dedicated to sub-disciplines of political sciences, specifically public policy, public administration, and international relations. Overall, we identified and analysed a total of 17 departments.

We investigated the publishing outputs of faculty members of these PSDs. As a means of presenting and discussing research results within an international scientific community, publishing is a crucial part of academic performance and internationalisation (Cordon-Garcia & Gomez-Diaz, 2010). It is also important for academic careers and, when it comes to publicly financed universities, funding (Blair et al., 2020; Mathies et al., 2020). Existing research predominantly focuses on WoS or Scopus databases (see Kulczycki et al. (2018) for a different approach), utilising their ‘field’ and ‘country’ options to search for papers published within political science and connected disciplines (Eberle et al., 2021; Jokić et al., 2019; Lovakov & Yudkevich, 2021). However, this approach has three major limitations: first, it does not enable comparisons between the publication outputs registered in these databases and the overall outputs of individual departments; second, it excludes several types of publications (for example, monographs—which are important for both funding and career progression, articles in non-indexed journals, etc.). Books are thus often excluded from analyses “due to the absence of relevant databases for bibliometric analysis” (Jokić et al., 2019, p. 493). Third, WoS and Scopus databases have their own biases and are skewed towards Western journals (Tennant, 2020).

In contrast, we collected data from the national database of academic publications (the Central Registry of Publication Activity, Slov. Centrálny register evidencie publikačnej činnosti, abbr. CREPČ), run by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic (hereafter the Ministry), which lists all publications by researchers affiliated with Slovak academic and research institutions for the 2018–2021 period (CREPČ, 2022). While the data are reported by universities, the Ministry checks the accuracy of the reported publications and their records (most importantly, the category in which they are reported). Each publication in this database is linked to the authors’ affiliation(s), thus allowing us to collect data for individual departments. This also means that the same output is recorded multiple times in our database if co-authors had various affiliations with Slovak PSDs. We opted for this option because it allowed us to follow a system that the Ministry uses for various purposes (including the provision of publication-based subsidies), rather than develop our own (arbitrary) approach to the issue of co-authorship. However, we believe that this approach did not overly skew our dataset, especially considering the very low level of co-authorship within Slovak PSDs and the overall low number of high-quality publications that contribute to the internationalisation of Slovak political science (see especially Table 3).

We collected data from the comprehensive four-year list (2018–2021) of all publications recorded in the Registry. While similar studies often focus on several select journals (Camerlo et al., 2018; Ghica, 2021; Saghaug Broderstad et al., 2018), commonly deemed “the most relevant” (some studies are aware of the limitations of such an approach; Schneider et al., 2013), our strategy allowed us to include outputs that would have been omitted had we used a predetermined list of political science journals (i.e., policy-specific publications featured in policy-specialised journals). When creating our database, we followed data from the CREPČ database and included all publications by members of Slovak PSDs, independently of the area they focus on. This was done under the assumption that political scientists publish in outlets connected to political science and similar fields. However, using the national database also came at a price as we had access to only four years of data available in the form we needed to conduct our research (i.e., linked to individual departments). This was caused by frequent changes to the database and its public features: the version of the database that includes publications prior to 2018 (so-called CREPČ 1) does not allow searching based on departments, while the post-2021 version uses a completely new system of categories that is incompatible with the previous ones. Our dataset therefore does not allow us to examine the development of publications by Slovak political scientists, providing instead a more static outlook of the studied four-year period.

In the first part of our analysis, we examined monographs and articles in peer-reviewed indexed journals, which are listed in the Ministry’s Registry under six categories of publications (see Table 1). These are the most important types of publications from the perspective of scientific output and recognition by the international scientific community (i.e., internationalisation), but also the financial perspective. We therefore call them the ‘main’ publications. In addition to journal articles, this part of our database encompasses monographs put out by both international and domestic publishers. Articles published in peer-reviewed journals listed in the Current Contents sub-database of WoS (i.e., journals with assigned impact factor (IF)) are especially important for the Slovak system. We examined four categories of papers: papers published in journals registered in Current Contents (domestic and international) and papers published in journals registered in WoS or Scopus but not in Current Contents (i.e., without IF; domestic and international). In most cases, papers from the latter category are published in journals listed in the Scopus database, although several journals indexed in WoS are also in this category.

Table 1 ‘Main’ publication categories in the Slovak Registry

For each publication, we coded the publication year, (co-)author(s), publication category, language of the publication, department, and publisher (including the country where it is based). This approach allowed us to look deeper into the publication outputs of Slovak political scientists in general, as well as the performance of individual departments in particular. We did not delve into the size of individual departments to learn about their ‘per member’ outputs as the number of faculty members fluctuated over the studied period, making it impossible to pinpoint the actual size of specific departments. Moreover, given the low number of outputs in the ‘main’ category (in some cases zero), ‘per member’ data would not have provided a lot of new information for our analysis. We did find department size to be an important factor in one case and therefore took it into consideration (see below). Having learned that members of only a few departments are responsible for the majority of publications (especially when it comes to articles), we delved deeper into the available data in the second part of our analysis by examining other types of publications: book chapters, (non-indexed) articles, and conference proceedings (both domestic and international). Ultimately, we analysed another nine categories featured in the Registry, which we merged into six categories of ‘other’ publications (described in Table 2) used in this paper.

Table 2 ‘Other’ publication categories in the Slovak Registry


Our data revealed three findings about the publication strategies of Slovak political scientists and their contribution to the internationalisation of their departments. First, there is only a limited number of articles in indexed journals (especially those with IF) and monographs published with renowned international publishing houses that contribute to internationalisation of Slovak political science. Second, these publications are published by a handful of departments whose faculty members focus on top publishers (of both journals and monographs) and aim at internationalisation. Third, there is limited ambition to produce publications with international impact within the rest of Slovak political departments that focus mostly on domestic and regional publishers (both in terms of books and journals). The majority of analysed publications are linked to domestic and regional journals and publishing houses, which leaves political science in Slovakia without a substantial impact on international research and current discussions.

Limited international publications

We first examined the ‘main’ publications by faculty members of Slovak PSDs (see the “Methodology” section). They encompass a total of 428 analysed units, published by members of the 17 examined departments during the 2018–2021 period, and divided into the categories presented in Table 1. There are important differences when it comes to the types of publications. The ‘main’ publications include 92 monographs (both domestic and international) and 336 journal articles (domestic and international; indexed, both with and without IF; Fig. 1). The largest category is articles in international indexed journals without IF (192). Almost one quarter of these articles (48) appear in Czech journals, which the Ministry considers to be international. However, given the language similarities and shared history of Czechia and Slovakia, it is questionable whether publishing in Czech journals should be considered international (what is more, eight of the articles are published in Slovak). There are also sixty-six papers in domestic indexed journals without IF. Out of these, 27 are published in Slovak, mostly by members of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Matej Bel University (16; see also below). Only 64 papers belong to the ‘top’ category, which includes articles published in international journals with IF. Since we examined 17 departments over a four-year period, this means that on average only 0.94 of such articles was published per department (some of which have more than 20 members) per year. This number seems low considering that publishing in these journals should be the main aim of research at Slovak academic institutions, not only because it contributes to the internationalisation of these institutions, but also because these are top-quality journals which bring the most funds in the form of Ministry subsidies. Fourteen remaining papers are published in domestic journals with assigned IF.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Publications in the ‘main’ categories. Source: Authors, based on the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR. Note: N=428; ‘Dom.’ – domestic; ‘Int.’ – international; IF- impact factor; ‘Indexed’ – listed in WoS/Scopus, but without impact factor

Monographs published in the examined period further confirm the very low level of internationalisation of Slovak political science. Out of 52 monographs put out by domestic publishers, only four are written in English and 48 in Slovak or another language from the region (Czech, Hungarian, etc.). Even when it comes to monographs published by international publishers, almost one-third (13 out of 40) are published in Slovak, two in Russian, one in Polish, and 24 in English. Given the fact that these are data for 17 departments over a four-year period, these numbers can be considered very low. Moreover, only six monographs published by international publishers were released by publishers outside CEE, out of which only five by major publishing houses: Routledge (3), Palgrave Macmillan (1), and Peter Lang (1).

Looking at the language of the publications, we can see that publishing in Slovak is quite common (see Fig. 2) as approximately one quarter (102) of the ‘main’ publications are written in this language, 310 in English and 16 in other languages: Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian. While there is no link between language and the quality of research, there is one between language and the impact of a given publication on research at the international level, as articles and books written in languages other than English (even those included in WoS and/or Scopus, as is the case with the abovementioned articles), the dominant language of academic communication (Blais (2018), but see Kraus (2018) for a contrasting viewpoint), have only a limited possibility to influence global discussions.

Fig. 2
figure 2

Language of ‘main’ publications. Source: Authors, based on the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR. Note: N=428

International publication is concentrated in a few departments

There are significant differences between the departments in both quantity and type of publications when it comes to ‘main’ publications analysed in this paper. Figure 3 shows that more than one-fourth (114 out of 428) of these publications were produced by two departments: the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava (65) and the Department of Public Policy at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava (49). Three other departments produced more than 30 publications each: the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica (37), the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava (35), and the Department of Security Studies at Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica (34).

Fig. 3
figure 3

Number of ‘main’ publications published by faculty members of individual departments. Source: Authors, based on the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR. Note: N=428

Due to the importance of articles in journals with impact factor, we looked at them more closely (Table 3). Departments with the highest share of articles in international journals with IF include the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava, with 13 (out of 35) articles, the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava, which has the most articles in this category (20 out of 65), and the Department of Public Policy at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, with 15 (out of 49) articles. Besides, the Department of Political Science at Comenius University and the Department of International Political Relations at the University of Economics each produced four articles in domestic journals with IF. Other departments were responsible for an additional six articles in this category. Members of five departments did not publish articles in neither international nor domestic journals with IF, four departments published only one article, while three other department published five papers each. Moreover, among the articles in international journals with IF, four were published in Czechia (three in Slovak, one in Czech) and therefore have limited possibility of contributing to international discussions.

Table 3 Individual departments’ performance in the ‘main’ publication categories

Figure 4 lists articles by faculty members of Slovak PSDs published in domestic and international journals with IF between 2018 and 2021. Only five departments published articles in the first quartile, three of them at Comenius University and two at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius. There is a relatively large number of articles in the second quartile journals, published by the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava (11) and the Department of Public Policy at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava (8). When it comes to articles published in the most prestigious journals (in the first quartile)—those where the main discussions take place—members of only three departments (the Department of Public Policy at University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava and the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava) demonstrated the ability to publish in these journals on a (more or less) regular basis. Faculty members of other Slovak departments did not publish in these categories of journals at all or did so seldomly and randomly.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Articles in journals with impact factor by faculty members of Slovak political science departments. Source: Authors, based on the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR. Note: N=64

The share of publications aimed primarily at domestic rather than international audiences (i.e., those written in Slovak) varies from department to department. Members of two departments published more than half of their total output in these categories in Slovak (the Department of Political Science at Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica and the Department of Political Science at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice), while member of the Department of Political Science and Eurasian Studies at Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra have no publications in English (though their overall number of publications in these categories is very low (5)). The Institute of Public Policy at Comenius University in Bratislava has the largest share of English-language publications (94%).

Focus on regional publication outlets

The data presented so far suggest that the internationalisation of Slovak PSDs is fairly limited. This conclusion is also supported by our further research on ‘main’ publications. When we looked at where the publishers which put out the identified articles (Fig. 5a) and books (Fig. 5b) are based, we observed a lack of international publishing. The majority of articles were published by Slovak (78) and Czech (54) publishers; there is altogether 81 publications published in by international outlets. In the case of monographs (Fig. 5b), there is a clear dominance of domestic (52) and Czech (18) publishers. Other publishers are based mainly in or close to the region—in Poland, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Fig. 5
figure 5

a Geography of ‘main’ journal publishers. Note: N=336, b Geography of publishing houses for the identified monographs. Note: N=92

Our unique set of data based on the national database enabled us to examine the publication strategies of Slovak political scientists more closely. Not limited by WoS and Scopus, we were also able to examine several ‘other’ types of publications, which are not indexed in these databases (listed in Table 2 in the methodological section of this paper). These publications can contribute to the internationalisation of PSDs to a certain level; moreover, analysing this data can shed light on broader publication strategies overlooked by studies which consider only the main databases.

Slovak PSDs produced 2232 ‘other’ publications (their different types are listed in Fig. 6). Overall, we see a much richer publication output compared to the dataset examined in the first part of our analysis (i.e., the 428 ‘main’ publications). Almost half of the ‘other’ publications (1071) were published in conference proceedings, which have only minimal impact on academic discussions at the international level. Proceedings from domestic conferences (794 publications or 36%) are especially frequent. Altogether, there are 1481 domestic publications (66%). The ability of such publications (written in Slovak) to contribute to the internationalisation of Slovak political science is minimal. Before turning our attention to publications that do have the potential to contribute to international discussions (articles in non-indexed international journals and chapters in international edited volumes), we will briefly consider the differences between individual departments in terms of the six categories of ‘otherʼ publications categories.

Fig. 6
figure 6

‘Other’ publications by faculty members of Slovak political science departments. Source: Authors, based on the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR. Note: N=2232

Table 4 shows major differences between Slovak PSDs. Two departments at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and one at the University of Economics are clear outliers when it comes to the overall number of ‘otherʼ publications (312, 245, and 292, respectively). Moreover, for the Department of Public Policy at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, domestic proceedings present 51.6% of all ‘otherʼ publications and 44.6% of all publications analysed in this paper. This makes it the most productive PSD in Slovakia in terms of the quantity of outputs. Similarly, 73 out of 154 ‘other’ publications (47.5%) by members of the Department of Political Science at Matej Bel University are featured in domestic proceedings. The Department of International Political Relations at the University of Economics and the Department of Political Science and European Studies at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius also published a significant number of articles in domestic non-indexed journals (86 and 82, respectively). At the other end of the spectrum is the Institute of Public Policy at Comenius University, with 20 publications overall and only one in domestic proceedings. However, this department is small compared to others, which can also explain the low number of publications (compared to its 17 ‘main’ publications discussed above).

Table 4 ‘Other’ publications by different Slovak political science departments

In the last step of our analysis, we investigated two specific categories of ‘other’ publications, since they can also include academic outputs with the potential to contribute to the internationalisation of Slovak political science: chapters in edited volumes from international publishers and articles in international journals that are not listed in WoS/Scopus. We coded these publications similarly to the ‘main’ ones to determine whether they were released by renowned international publishing houses or regional publishers with limited or no international impact. Figure 7a and b shows to which of these two categories the examined types of publications belong.

Fig. 7
figure 7

a Geography of international journals not listed in WoS/Scopus, featuring articles by faculty members of Slovak political science departments. Note: N=191, b Geography of international volumes, featuring chapters by faculty members of Slovak political science departments. Note: N=245

Almost all articles in this category are featured in journals from what we can call ‘regional’ publishers, which have a limited ability to contribute to broader political science discussions (Fig. 7a). The clear leader is Czechia, with Poland in second, and Ukraine in third place. The Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica is the most active in this category, with 31 articles, 24 of which were published in Czechia (12) and Poland (12). Only four articles, all by members of two departments at Comenius University, were released by internationally recognised publishers.

When it comes to chapters in edited volumes from international publishers (Fig. 7b), the situation is more skewed towards internationalisation. Although the majority of these publishers are based in Czechia (70 chapters altogether), major international publishing houses are second with 55 chapters, while Poland is third with 49 chapters. However, 69% of chapters still appear in volumes from ‘regional’ publishers with minimal impact on international discussions.

Discussion: ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ of Slovak political science

The results of our research indicate that members of Slovak PSDs publish a lot, but mostly outside the main databases or major publishing houses. In addition to a lot of domestic publications (with only a minimal chance of contributing to internationalisation due to their focus on domestic audience), they also publish within the region in non-indexed journals, edited volumes, and conference proceedings. These types of publications present the main output of faculty members of the majority of Slovak PSDs (Table 4, compared with Fig. 3, which lists articles in journals with IF). Although we found several chapters in edited volumes from prestigious publishing houses, such cases are similar to those of articles in international journals with IF and monographs put out by top publishers: they are published by members of only three departments, who thus contribute to international discussions and, in turn, to the internationalisation of Slovak political science.

However, the situation is very different when it comes to the other 14 departments analysed in this paper. They mostly publish at home and, when publishing abroad, engage in what we call ‘pseudo-internationalisation’: a strategy characterised by mimicking internationalisation in the sense that it creates a pretence of participating in global discussion via publishing internationally, in outlets that can reach international audiences. However, ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ has a very strong regional aspect and is connected to publications both in and outside of international databases. This approach results in contributions to journals published regionally (Fig. 5a), rather than by leading international publishers, and monographs (edited volumes) predominantly published in the immediate neighbourhood (Fig. 5b) or within the region. For example, the majority of articles in indexed international journals without IF were published in Czechia. Especially non-indexed journals are, in most cases, characterised by nonexistent or problematic peer-review and nonexistent or non-enforced correcting policies (to the best of our knowledge, as of yet there have been no cases of retraction within Slovak political science). The audience reached by these types of publications (especially proceedings, non-indexed articles, and chapters) is very limited due to their limited visibility within international academic circles.

The main aim of this type of publication strategy seems to be something other than contributing to global discussions within the discipline or presenting research findings to the academic community. This begs the question why members of Slovak PSDs rely on a strategy that does not contribute to the development of (global) knowledge or promote the progress of science as such? We argue that three factors can explain this publication strategy: A) a pragmatic approach to publishing; B) limited international engagement; and C) existing regional networks.

First, ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ is a pragmatic approach favoured by members of Slovak PSDs. Their job as researchers is to do research and publish its results; moreover, government subsidies for public universities are linked to publications, especially articles in indexed international journals. Publishing within the region is the most pragmatic way to publish internationally while increasing the chances of one’s research being accepted for publication. Approximately half of the papers published in indexed journals (without IF) examined in this article were published in Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, and Ukraine (Fig. 5a). The situation is even more skewed towards the region in the case of non-indexed journals (Fig. 7a). Such a strategy is favourable for a given faculty/university in terms of financing as the quantity of publications can—especially in the case of indexed journals (Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, 2022)—replace their quality, which is why faculties/universities often support it. Similarly, books published domestically have only a minimal effect on internationalisation, as do those published in Czechia (especially if they are written in Slovak); however, the Ministry places the same value on the latter as on books from renowned international publishing houses, making this publication strategy seem more pragmatic (see Fig. 5b).

Despite different methodologies, the foreign experts’ panel on political science came to a similar conclusion in the Verification of Excellence in Research report (Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, 2023). A need for more comprehensive theoretical frameworks, a lack of a broader contextualization (beyond CEE), and a lack of cooperation with the international research environment were identified as the main problems of the publication outcomes. This is also important for the career progression of members of Slovak PSDs. Universities set their own rules for career advancement, including the types and number of publications needed for promotion, most of them require indexed articles as one of the conditions for fulfilling the criteria for the position/degree of associate and full professor. As a result, there have been cases in Slovak academia of repeated publishing in predatory journals from CEE countries, particularly those indexed in the main databases (Vančo, 2016). Similarly, monographs are often published to fulfil the requirements for promotion or as a (promised) outcome of a project supported by Slovak grant agencies.

Of course, pragmatic approaches to publishing are not limited to Slovakia or the CEE region; rather, they are present worldwide and the reasons mentioned above (i.e., university subsidies or career advancement) apply also in those cases. On the other hand, although pragmatism might be the primary motivation behind publishing even in the case of ‘real’ internationalisation (Puehringer et al., 2021), it leads (perhaps unintentionally) to the expansion of existing knowledge and adds to broader discussions, as such publications appear in journals published by (leading) international outlets. These constitute the principal arena for scientific discussion, with the peer-review system guaranteeing the quality of publications and existing internal mechanism addressing misconduct (such as the retraction of problematic articles (Xu and Hu 2022)). In contrast, ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ is characterised by low-hanging (regional) fruit which brings the most value ‘per effort unit’. As the overall results of the Verification of Excellence in Research process indicate, only two Slovak political sciences departments achieved a significant number of publication outputs that are evaluated as the ‘global’ quality or ‘significant international quality’. In other evaluated PSDs, this share reached between 0 and 16% of publications (Slovak Centre of Scientific & Technical Information, 2023).

Second, most Slovak PSDs are not part of international networks and their members do not regularly participate in the most prominent political science conferences (ECPR, IPSA, UACES, ISA, etc.). This limits the internationalisation of Slovak PSDs as these conferences are important for getting critical feedback on one’s arguments and ideas, developing collaborations, or joining international research teams. We examined the participation of members of Slovak PSDs in the ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) General Conference, the largest annual event of the leading academic association dedicated to advancing political science in Europe (ECPR, 2023). During the five-year period before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic (2015–2019), members of only four Slovak PSDs participated in this conference (see Table 5). Interestingly enough, three out of the four departments are among the four most prolific PSDs when it comes to ‘main’ publications—i.e., indexed articles and monographs (see Table 3). The situation is very similar with other major conferences.

Table 5 Participation of Slovak PSDs at ECPR General Conference (2015–2019)

Instead of attending major conferences, most Slovak departments organize their own conferences at least once a year, with participants mainly from Slovakia, Czechia, and Poland. For instance, there were three political sciences conferences with publicly available conference proceedings held in 2022. The share of contributions by the author(s) from Slovak universities/institutions reached approximately 83%, followed by the contributions written by authors from Czech universities (9.7%). The share of conference proceedings contribution written by the academics from an institution organizing the conference reached, in two cases, 80% and 67% (data based on (Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica 2022; University of Economics in Bratislava 2022a, 2022b). Then, thanks to existing regional networks, they attend similar academic events abroad, at the home institutions of scholars who participated in their conferences, as another type of ‘friendly favours’ discussed in the next section. The papers presented at such academic events are then published in conference proceedings with dozens of contributions. Such proceedings (both domestic and international) are an easy way to demonstrate publication activity, typically for a modest publication fee and with only (at best) a formal peer-review process. However, they are another type of publication which supports our ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ argument since, given their regional context, their impact on global academic discussions is limited at best.

Third, strong regional networks are another factor that impacts the ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ of Slovak PSDs. The effect of these networks is seen not only in attending conferences within the region, but also in placing focus on cooperation within the region as well as regionally based publishing outlets with regional impact. A very good example are ‘in home’ journals which are de facto domestic journals, but once they got indexed in the main databases they gained a regional importance. Establishing oneʼs own journal was originally a matter of prestige for many PSDs. Even today, almost all Slovak PSDs (except those at Comenius University, Trnava University, and Pavol Jozef Šafárik University) have their own departmental or faculty journal (Table 6). At first, to fill individual issues with a suitable number of articles, colleagues from other Slovak PSDs were asked to provide contributions. Publishing in these journals was presented as a favour the author would be doing to the journal and its editors.

Table 6 ‘In-house’ journals of different Slovak PSDs or their home faculties

Later, the regular issuing of the journals became an essential criterion for them to be indexed in the Scopus or WoS database. Thus, the aforementioned favours have became even more important for the journals and the departments running them. However, once the journals were included in the main databases, the tables turned and publishing in such outlets became a ‘friendly favour’ for authors from both Slovakia and the broader region interested in publishing predominantly in indexed journals for reasons examined above. We can illustrate this with the example of the ‘Politické vedy’ journal indexed in the WoS database. Out of 72 articles in this journal by authors from Slovak PSDs in the evaluated period, 24 articles (33%) were written by scholars from the same University that publishes the journal. The other 67% were written by authors from other Slovak universities.

These journals thus became ‘regionalised’ in the sense that they do not reach international authorship (only regional): a large majority of their authors come from the CEE region, especially Slovakia (see an example of such a journal in Table 7) and even the ‘home’ departments of the journals.

Table 7 Country of affiliation of all authors of articles in Politické vedy (2018–2021)

For example, members of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Matej Bel University have 12 articles in their ‘in house’ journal published during the four-year period examined in this paper (out of 16 in this category, see Table 3). This model is, however, not specific for Slovakia and such ‘friendly favours’ are offered across national borders (and in a reciprocal manner), creating a system of publishing in journals which are seen as international by national educational systems, but in reality have much more limited reach. These regional journals thus contribute to the ‘pseudo-internationalisation’ of Slovak political science. While these journals are much more accessible than those put out by major international publishing houses, their contribution to political science discussions is much smaller.


This article examined the internationalisation of Slovak political science by analysing publications by faculty members of Slovak PSDs. We argue that internationalisation is limited to a few PSDs whose members publish in top-ranking journals and with prestigious publishing houses. These results are in line with previous examinations of Slovak political science that studied different publication periods (Bátora & Hynek, 2009; Halás & Navrátil, 2015; Rybář, 2010). However, unlike previous analyses, we used the national database of publications to learn more about publication strategies than major databases (WoS/Scopus) alone would allow us. This is an important finding as these two databases are more and more used to analyse and evaluate research (Zhu & Liu, 2020). As a result, we learned that members of Slovak PSDs are very active researchers; however, they publish almost exclusively in domestic and regional outlets (both in terms of journals and monographs).

Domestic publications are mostly written in the Slovak language and/or published in local outlets and therefore have almost no impact on internationalisation. Similarly, publications in regional (meaning within or around CEE) journals or publishing houses have low impact on internationalisation as they are not very visible to the international community and do not provide platforms for major discussions. This publication strategy is utilised in the case of journals that are both in and outside international databases, as well as book-length publications.

We termed this publication strategy ‘pseudo-internationalisation’. Its main characteristic is a pragmatic approach to publication favoured by Slovak political scientists, for whom regional journals and publishing houses are more easily reachable than major international publishers. Although we can assume that major international outlets publish articles and books of higher quality than domestic and regional journals and publishing houses, our analysis does not allow us to create a link between quality and different publishing outlets. We argue, however, that established international publishing houses and the journals and monographs they put out provide platforms for international discussions, which is why those who want to join such discussions must publish in these outlets.

We argue that this is a pragmatic approach adopted by employees of public universities who are expected to publish internationally, but, due to a lack of academic contacts outside their (immediate) neighbourhood, focus on this geographical area. These results are in line with broader observations about CEE made by Eberle et al., who claim that the pragmatic approach is a response to “the performance-dependent salary incentives which favour emulation-based research ensuring steady publication and cash flows and discourage high-risk high-gain approaches” (2021, p. 200).

More than 30 years after the fall of communism that destroyed (some of) social sciences and humanities in satellite countries of the Soviet Union (including the Czechoslovakia), Slovak political science is still connected to global academia only to a very limited degree (Bátora, 2016).

Only a small number of members of Slovak PSDs participate in global academic discussions, mainly due to their personal dedication to academia as they receive at most scarce institutional support. Slovak universities are experiencing ‘post-communism’ characterised by the absence of significant international publications, unprofessionalism in managing of faculties and universities, as well as insufficient financing of research of excellent academicians and departments (Bátora, 2020).

The bibliographic data and scientometric approach utilised in this paper have their limits and a qualitative look into the collected data as well as the arguments explaining them (for example, by conducting interviews with members of PSDs) can provide deeper insights into the examined issue. This, however, is a task for future research. Other avenues for follow-up analyses are linked to explanations of pseudo-institutionalisation provided in this text. For example, future research can examine the impact of membership in professional organisations or editorial boards of journals on publication strategies, collaboration patterns, or funding acquisition. Another potentially very fruitful topic of future research are institutional setups that influence internationalisation of Slovak (not only) PSDs. We believe that pseudo-internationalisation as a concept can be utilised beyond political (social) science and the Central and Eastern Europe region, and therefore future research should apply it to other disciplines and geographical areas. For example, UNESCO has reported that Slovakia has one of the lowest share of publications with foreign co-authors within the EU while most collaborators come from Czechia (UNESCO, 2021). Moreover, this article has identified three departments among the examined Slovak PSDs that engage in internationalisation and future research should investigate these exemptions from the ʻruleʼ of ʻpseudo-internationalisationʼ typical for the majority of Slovak PSDs.