Quantum strongly condemns the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the loss of life and war crimes inflicted by Vladimir Putin’s forces. There are no words to express our sorrow and fears.
We received an urgent request by the Ukrainian Physical Society, whose members were writing from Kyiv under intense bombing, to issue an unconditional boycott on papers by the Russian Academy of Sciences and official scientific institutions of the Russian Federation. The rationale is that these institutions are flagships of Putin’s regime and bear their share of responsibility in supporting the regime, and by extension the invasion.
We have given this request much thought: perhaps we could temporarily ban all papers from Russia, or publish them only if the authors had denounced the war. In principle this symbolic gesture could carry a powerful message. However, as Russia currently does not have freedom of speech or movement for its citizens, the collateral damage of such a step is very hard to assess. Researchers in Russia cannot safely express political dissent or opposition to the war — not without endangering themselves and their families. The risk calculation of whether to speak out against the war is a very difficult one, and depends on sensitive personal circumstances.
We concluded that Quantum should not influence this risk calculation by withholding access to publication. After all, Quantum’s mission is to lower the barriers to science publishing. Historically this mostly has referred to researchers from institutions that cannot afford expensive publication and subscription fees, but it certainly covers those trapped in authoritarian states.
What we can do is to facilitate protest by those who choose to assume the risk. If any authors of published papers would like for us to publish a collaborative statement denouncing the war, the regime or their institution, or simply describing the struggles in their country due to the war, please write to us. This would be particularly impactful from those working in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. In principle we can anonymise statements, and we will only publish after fact-checking (so it may take a while). If you cannot write the statement in email, simply send us your number so that we can contact you through Signal.
In addition, Quantum reserves the right not to publish work by researchers who publicly express support for the invasion or promote misleading propaganda, as this violates Quantum’s Code of Conduct.
Other journals have made papers freely accessible to Ukrainian researchers, and offered more flexible deadlines for those affected. We note that Quantum is already free to read and publish for everyone, and has no strict deadlines. Unfortunately Quantum does not have the budget (or mandate) for direct donations at the moment, but individual members of our community are helping in aid efforts. Coincidentally, no one in Quantum’s Editorial, Steering or Executive boards woks at either Russian or Ukrainian institutions. We have asked our editors to contact us directly if they need any help as a result of the conflict.
As an institution, this is as far as we can go at the moment. If you think we could do more, please email us.
Worldwide initiatives to support Ukrainian researchers and students can be found at https://scienceforukraine.eu and https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/in-solidarity-with-ukraine/ . Many universities throughout Europe have also opened up special programmes for Ukrainian refugees; if you are leaving or hosting someone, please check the country’s universities’ homepages and you’ll likely find useful links. Support for Russian students and scholars in exile can be found at https://ziminfoundation.org and https://antiwarcommittee.info/kovcheg/ .
What you can do: if you have the space, host a refugee family; if you have the time, volunteer at local welcome and donation centres; if you have the money, donate either to institutions in the ground in Ukraine (like the national children’s hospital) or to your local organisations receiving refugees; if you have the influence, talk to your colleagues about the war and what your institution can do. If you think you have neither – what would you like to be able to tell tomorrow’s children about your role at this point in history?
A personal message from Lídia, which does not reflect the views of Quantum: I would recommend that conference invitations to researchers in Russia only be issued as humanitarian aid: a way for the researcher and their family to safely leave. On that note, I’d plead everyone contacting researchers in Russia to be mindful of electronic surveillance. In particular, if writing to offer a way out of the country (like a visiting position, or a conference invitation), do not mention opinions on the conflict in writing, as it may endanger them when trying to cross the border.