(Interview) The Laboratory for Comparative Social Research was established in November 2010 grace to the grant awarded according to Resolution No. 220 of the Russian government. During two years the Lab has got together a team of talented scholars from different countries, which conduct more than 40 projects and produce publications for a wide range of international journals. Thanks to collective hard work of the LCSR international staff we can surely claim that now the Laboratory is one of leading centre for comparative quantitative social research in Russia. Eduard Ponarin, the Director of the LCSR, tells about history of the Lab and principal results of its work.
– How did the Laboratory start?
The Laboratory started in 2010 when I got a letter from Ronald Inglehart asking me if I could help to find money for a Russian wave of World Value Survey. Coincidentally a couple of weeks before I had known that in April the Russian government adopted a Resolution №220 giving a large amount of money to attract leading scientists to Russian universities and we explored the possibility of getting the grant. That time Inglehart got an invitation from Evgeniy Yasin who is an Academic Supervisor of the Higher School of Economics to visit a Conference in Moscow. We took that opportunity to meet and discuss our cooperation and in November we announced a call for the first round of applications. That was basically how the Laboratory started.
– Which events and achievement of the Lab for last two years you consider to be the brightest?
We had a Conference in mid December 2010 and it was perhaps one of the brightest memories, because there was a lot of enthusiasm in those first participants of our network and it became clear that the Laboratory would be a success. We attracted some of really talented collaborators who are an integral part of our network now. Also the last Conference in November was quite impressive; there were many foreign visitors who were surprised in a good way by what they found in Russia.
– What is the main result of Lab’s work for two years?
First, we have collected a team of mostly young, ambitious and very able scholars intending to develop quantitative science in Russia. We have produced publishable papers most of which exists in the form of preprint. I know that some of them have already been sent to journals and we are waiting for the results. I guess that it is the most important issue in terms of the future of the Laboratory, because if we are able to produce qualitative publications it means that the Lab will have a sustainable future.
– How do you feel about the grant renewal?
I’m glad but also fell a bit concerned, because it’s also a lot of work in the conditions of having less money than in previous years. I would be surprised if the Laboratory did not get the grant renewal. The Ministry expected us to produce more publications but it is very difficult to achieve in course of two years, because the project takes time and the publishing process also takes time. But I think that everybody in the Ministry understood it. So I was more or less prepared to the fact that we would get the grant renewal, there’s gladness and happiness but also some concerns about how to manage current situation.
– How do you see the future of the Laboratory?
I think the Laboratory will turn into a centre for advanced studies like those which some big research universities have abroad. It is the center where scholars can work for semester or a year and produce a publication or an important article. The fact that the Lab has almost become such a centre although maybe not as well-known as those in foreign universities means that it has a prominent and bright future.
– What would you advice to your colleagues and young research assistants?
Be ambitious, be interested in science, work hard and you’ll enjoy being a scholar!
by Ekaterina Turanova
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