Conservative estimate

The sackings and university closures are now starting to take their toll on Turkish scientific output. According to a study by British–Turkish academic collective, Freedom for Academia, the number of papers published by the country’s universities fell 28% since the attempted coup last year to 27,600. While the study relies on extrapolation for 2017, one of its authors, Mesut Erzurumluoglu, says the figures are convincing. ‘We think that we may be wrong, but only by being too conservative. The decline in numbers may be even larger,’ says Erzurumluoglu, a postdoc associate at the University of Leicester. The study reveals that the greatest fall in publications was seen in the social sciences, followed by medicine. Chemistry publications fell just over 5%.

‘You don’t have to be a genius to see that there’s going to be a huge brain drain,’ adds Erzurumluoglu, who said that the positions left by academics who have been sacked, imprisoned or who have fled are being filled by ‘cronies’. ‘This is going to be a problem in Turkey for years to come, because these people will pick other cronies, and there will be no scientific ethic.’ He adds that the study will be repeated in the coming years to keep tabs on Turkey’s research output.

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