Russian Pathology

Per scientiam ad veritatem

Membership of the Russian Division of the International Academy of Pathology and recognition of academic degrees

In 2009 in Samara took place the 3rd Congress of Russian pathologists and, concomitantly, a meeting of the Russian Division of the International Academy of Pathology (IAP), where its membership policy, remaining unchanged since the 1990s, was confirmed: only those pathologists can become members of the Russian Division, who had been awarded the academic degree “Doctor of Medical Sciences”. There are two academic degrees in Russia, in medicine as well as in other sciences: Candidate of Sciences (equivalent to PhD) and Doctor of Sciences (more or less equivalent to the Higher Doctorate in the countries, where this term is used, and to the Habilitation in Austria and Germany). However, the situation has changed thanks to the Russian ex-minister of education Vladimir Filippov. According to his opinion, the above-named scientific degrees must be not translated but transliterated to foreign languages [1]. As far as we know, the process of acquisition of the candidate degree in Russia requires no less time and effort than that of PhD in other countries. Admittedly, many candidate theses have been forged; but the same is true also with regard to some doctoral theses [2,3]. Some functionaries have not enough time to make their theses and order them, or at least literary reviews, from firms offering such services. This is probably the cause of inadequate citation and misquoting found in some dissertations e.g. by the Chancellor of the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University [4]. 

Figures 1-10  are photographs from the doctoral thesis (dissertation) of the chancellor of the First Moscow Medical University (previously named I.M. Sechenov Medical Academy) [5]. Some authors' names that can be seen in the text (Fig. 2-4) are absent in the reference list (Fig. 5-10), which is a form of misquoting. In any case a correction is needed.

The Doctor and the Candidate of Medical Sciences are academic degrees: they can be acquired by scientists, who have never been engaged in medical practice. Majority of medical practitioners in Russia, including pathologists, have neither Candidate nor Doctor degree. The number of the Candidates is many times higher than that of the Doctors. Who are the Doctors of Medical Sciences, having the privilege to become IAP members? Prominent researchers? So it must be according to official ordinances. In reality it is often otherwise: many functionaries, their dependants and relatives, obtained these degrees after submission of forged theses, having made no real contribution to medical sciences and, at the same time, having not much practical experience.  

There is a governmental institution in Moscow, named Higher Attestation Commission of Russian Federation, generally known as the VAK (currently led by above-mentioned Vladimir Filippov), the main purpose of which is the maintenance of the high level of scientific research. The VAK awards all Doctor of Sciences degrees and officially approves those of the Candidates of Sciences. Nevertheless, there are many approved theses with obvious trimming of data, manipulations with statistics, misquoting, etc. Official requirements to a doctoral thesis are difficult to comply with: it must be a "new large-scale scientific achievement or solution of a big scientific problem" (according to the Governmental Ordinance on the order of awarding of scientific degrees issued in 2002). In the former (1995) version of the Ordinance there was a formulation: “Considerable contribution to the acceleration of scientific-technical progress”. Such requirements move some researchers towards strained interpretations at least. Other requirements applied both to the doctoral and to the candidate theses are global novelty and, in medicine, practical significance. The habit of giving practical recommendation in all, candidate and doctoral, theses can be even dangerous. Another ingrained habit is the so-called “raisin”: modern sophisticated methods expected to be applied in medical theses. As a result, modern methods are sometimes used without much practical or scientific relevance, to enable claiming a “modern scientific level”. Another requirement to the doctoral theses (according to the above-mentioned Ordinance, 2002) is that main results must be published in peer-reviewed journals (or editions acknowledged as equivalent to them). As a result, journals are overloaded with largely useless publications, while some valuable papers have to wait long time before the print. Regular publications are usually required from researchers and lecturers, which urges them to publish as much as possible.

In conclusion, as long as the Russian Division of the IAP admits as its members only the Doctors of Medical Sciences, it should be regarded, at least in part, as a representation of administration, leading functionaries and their dependants. The membership policy of the Russian Division is not in agreement with the traditions of the IAP, offering membership to all pathologists and other medical graduates.


1. Tkach GF, Filippov VM, Chistokhvalov VN. European attachment to the diploma as a tool of the recognition of qualifications. Moscow: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, 2008. 

2. Jargin SV. Pathology in the former Soviet Union: scientific misconduct and related phenomena. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2011;1(1):75-81.

3. Jargin SV. Scientific misconduct. Molodoi Uchenyi – Young Scientist 2015;(4):322-7.  (in Russian)

4. Glybochko PV. Treatment optimization of benign prostatic hyperplasia combined with senile osteoporosis. Doctoral dissertation. Saratov, 2001.  (in Russian)

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