Scientific productivity in Serbia

Scientific Productivity in Serbia

More than half of 69,400 papers published in the last twenty years by the researchers and scientists from the Serbian public universities came from the University of Belgrade. The figure below presents the number of papers published at Serbian university by discipline for the last twenty years.

The average annual growth rate of the number of publications in the past twenty years was around 15%. Although this growth is substantially higher than the average global growth rate for the same period (about 4%), strong expansion in Serbia is primarily caused by the low starting point. Wars, political, and economic isolation during the nineties dramatically reduced the scientific output. In 2002, researchers' compensation and performance were tied to the number of papers published in foreign journals, which, coupled with economic recovery and proliferation of online journals, led to a steep increase in the publication rate. The period from 2012 onwards has seen a significant slowdown in the growth of the number of publications. Migration alone cannot explain this slowdown. Further analysis of this trend is beyond the scope of this study, but the problem seems to persist and should be investigated.

The next two figures present the publishing trends in different disciplines at the UB and UNS. The categories are determined by the Microsoft Academic algorithm. We included ten categories: nine largest, and the tenth, named "Other", which includes all the disciplines that are not already included in the graph. Medicine (clinical medicine and biomedical research) and chemistry are the largest and fastest-growing scientific fields in Serbia. The numbers of published papers in Engineering (excluding Computer Science) and Mathematics have been stagnating or declining.

The differences in sizes between the scientific fields are not unique to Serbia. Annually, biomedical sciences produce about ten times more publications than mathematics. The nature of research in these disciplines can explain different outputs. Biology, physics, and biomedical sciences have the largest number of authors per document, while mathematics has the smallest. A study found that 66% of mathematics papers are written by a single author, while only 21% in biomedical sciences. Biomedical research often consists of large groups of scientists, while theoretical work is done primarily by individuals alone. In fact, some authors suggest that one citation in mathematics is equal to 5 citations in engineering, 19 citations in physics, and 78 citations in biology. The author of that study is, you guessed it, a mathematician. Regardless of the differences in the sizes of disciplines, which are expected, the decline of Engineering and Mathematics is of particular concern and should be addressed. Below, you can explore the relative size of disciplines at the Serbian public universities.