TRAMES 1, 2, 1998

Jüri Allik. Theme issue "Culture and psychology in comparative perspective: The case of Estonia"

University of Tartu


In this essay the quality of social sciences in Estonia is evaluated. An external (Swedish) evaluation, and the participants themselves have a tendency to stress a high, internationally competitive level of Estonian humanities and social sciences, primarily by referring to outstanding scholars who are well-known by their Western colleagues and who can communicate with their visitors. At the same time, all bibliometric indicators show that Estonian science in general and the social sciences in particular are far behind the rest of the world. There are fewer than 50 scientists for all areas of the humanities and social sciences, from philosophy to sociology, who publish in international peer-reviewed journals. If the number of publications by Estonian social scientists continues to increase at the same rate as it has been during the last 15 years, it will take more than a century to equal Finland in the number publications normalized by the number of inhabitants in this country. The state of Estonian social sciences can be explained by the fact that many academics suffer from "functional illiteracy" caused by deprivation of scientific forms of communication during critical periods in their academic lives which has made them unable to communicate the results of their scholarly work to colleagues through publications in international journals. Some directions in which Estonian social sciences could move are suggested.

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