Skip to main content
Log in

Mobile young researchers and their non-mobile ‘twins’: who is winning the academic race?

  • Published:
Scientometrics Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This study focuses on the impact of international mobility of researchers on future scientific careers, particularly on their publication activity. We looked at young Russian researchers who returned to Russia after work, internship, or study abroad lasting more than 3 months. For this purpose, we used a combined database with biographical information (gathered from CVs) and publication activity indicators (data from Scopus). We also proposed method of matching pairs, rarely used in scientometrics. We compared mobile researchers with non-mobile counterparts who were close to them in terms of scientific field, age, and educational background. We revealed a positive relationship between international mobility and scientific productivity. Mobile researchers publish more scientific articles on average. They also publish more papers in higher-level journals and get more citations. We checked that these effects appeared after mobility but not from the beginning of the careers. The mobility effects, however, are not homogeneous, they vary significantly across disciplines, and in the timing, duration, and destination of mobility.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Source: authors’ calculations based on Scopus SciVal data collected in October 2020. All types of documents indexed in Scopus are taken into account

Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Source: authors’ calculations based on Scopus SciVal data collected in October 2020. All types of documents indexed in Scopus are taken into account

Fig. 4

Source: authors’ calculations based on Scopus SciVal data collected in October 2020. All types of documents indexed in Scopus are taken into account

Fig. 5

Source: authors’ calculations based on Scopus SciVal data collected in October 2020. All types of documents indexed in Scopus are taken into account

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Those specialists who left the country and then returned.

  2. For example, the Global Education Programme was launched in 2014 and projects with domestic mobility of researchers have been supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research since 2017.

  3. See more about HSE University at:

  4. Implementation of some measures on openness of data on academic mobility of employees and their publications is observed in the universities participating in the so-called 5-100 project realised during 2012-2020 (Russian Academic Excellence Project 5-100. Read more at:, but none of them had enough data for calculations in the framework of our approach and research design.

  5. We choose 39 years as a criterion for an early-career researcher. We followed 'Careers of Doctoral Holders' (CDH) Project using three months as mobility duration criteria.

  6. For mobile researchers who received it in Moscow or St. Petersburg, we selected non-mobile pairs with a similar background. The assumption is that these two cities have a distinct STI environment, denser and more internationally integrated, than other cities, which affects the professional socialisation of students and young researchers.

  7. We made this additional analysis following the recommendation of an anonymous reviewer. We are very thankful for this idea.

  8. For one researcher we could not detect the duration of mobility.

  9. We use the information from the department affiliation to classify the field of study of a researcher.

  10. Hereinafter, citations include all citations received in 2015-2019 by the author's works published before 2020.

  11. The author considered those disciplines more pluralistic where there are more methods and schools of thought.

  12. Another factor potentially influencing the result for the “Humanities” group is that Scopus probably is not a good instrument for measuring research performance in these fields of science. We want to thank anonymous reviewer for drawing our attention to this. Humanities scholars tend to publish a large share of their findings in monographs, the coverage of which is patchy in the database. The same is true for local journals, also popular as a publication venue in humanities.

  13. The sum exceeds 100% because some researchers have had international experience in several countries and regions.

  14. The total sum of researchers by mobility types exceeds 100% since each researcher can have mobility episodes of different types during their career.


Download references


The article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program of the HSE University. The current article is a substantially extended version of our paper ‘Publish more or publish differently? New aspects of relationship between scientific mobility and performance of young researchers’ that was presented at 18th International Conference on Scientometrics & Informetrics (ISSI 2021) and published in the conference proceedings (Kotsemir et al., 2021).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maxim Kotsemir.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest as well as no competing interests to disclose.



Appendix Note AN.1. Difficulties of merging duplicative Scopus author profiles for the studied sample of researchers

We merge Scopus author profiles in four types of cases. First, there are cases of different versions of the transliteration of the surname and/or first name of a specific author. It is the most common problem of merging duplicative author profiles since in the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet many letters can be transliterated to the Latin alphabet in many variants. E.g. the surname “Кaлюжный” (for men)/“Кaлюжн” (for women) can have many possible variants of transliteration to the Latin alphabet due to the hard-to-transliterate letters “ю” and “ж” and surname endings “-ый”/“-aя”. In Scopus, we found variants of this surname such as Kalyuzhnyy, Kalyuzhnyi, Kaluzhny, Kaliuzhnyi for men; and Kalyuzhnaya, Kaliuzhnaia, Kaluzhnaya, Kaliuzhnaya, Kalujnaia, Kalioujnaia for women. All the variants should be included in the query search.

The second case is the merging of several author profiles with the same spelling of the surname, but different spelling options for the first name and the presence/absence of the patronymic. E.g. Russian name such as “Aлeкceй” can be transliterated as Alexey, Aleksey, Alexei, Aleksei, Alexej or Aleksej. The use of patronymic names (i.e. father name) in Scopus-indexed affiliation is quite common practice for Russian authors. In many Russian journals that are indexed in Scopus the use of “full name format” i.e. use of surname, first(given) name, and patronymic name (if exists) is strictly required for all authors. This practice also complicates the merging of duplicative author profiles for Russian authors. E.g. Scopus author profiles named “Belova Irina P.”, “Belova Irina Petrovna” and “Belova I.P.” all affiliated with the same organisation in most cases belong to the same person (“Бeлoвa Иpинa Пeтpoвнa”). However, we should be careful here with “Belova I.P.” since this profile can belong to the namesake of Belova Irina Petrovna e.g. to Belova Inga Pavlovna from the same organisation. The work with Scopus author profiles that use and do not use patronymic names is especially complex in cases of common Russian surnames.

The third case is related to the merging of duplicative profiles of the same author with different affiliations. In the case of our sample, we had information about affiliation. In the case of e.g. Volkov Igor we looked for all Volkov Igors (and Volkov I*) Scopus author profiles affiliated with HSE University.

The fourth case is related to the merging of maiden and married names. This problem of merging duplicative profiles is even more complex. We should know the maiden name of the selected woman, and her husband’s surname and take into account all variants of both surnames transliteration when searching her author’s profiles in Scopus. In the case of ladies who have several Scopus author profiles with a maiden (e.g. Volkova) and husband’s (e.g. Smirnova) surnames the task of merging duplicative profiles is technically much more complex. The task of affiliation(-s) synchronisation also becomes much more complicated.

See Table 7 and 8.

Table 7 Bibliometric Indicators used in the analysis
Table 8 Mobility destination of the mobile researchers’ sample (by selected countries)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kotsemir, M., Dyachenko, E. & Nefedova, A. Mobile young researchers and their non-mobile ‘twins’: who is winning the academic race?. Scientometrics 127, 7307–7332 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: