In parallel with the challenges that researchers across the EU face, researchers beyond its borders are also seeking their place in the science world. In Serbia, a candidate for EU membership since 2012 and a country with observer status in the European Research Area Committee, efforts to improve the scientific community status have been intensifying, especially in recent months.
On October 10, an online workshop took place in Serbia as part of the FAIR-IMPACT project roadshow. On this occasion, Gareth O’Neill from Technopolis Group – a partner in two significant projects aimed at improving research career conditions, OPUS and SECURE – presented the OPUS project to the local stakeholders. Participants of the event, including representatives from the Serbian research community, were informed about the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) concept about policy regulations and assessment practices in science.
Only a few days earlier, the Serbian Ministry of Science, Technology Development and Innovation announced that the country became a full member of ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID). That provides Serbian researchers greater international visibility and a stronger position when applying for projects funded by the European Commission. Another major example that confirms the awareness of the importance of open science in Serbia is an online service called eNauka (eScience) – the national repository of overall scientific production (now connected with ORCID), initiated in 2023.
However, the status of Serbian researchers is still burdened with many issues. As non-EU citizens, they miss many chances for intersectoral or cross-border mobility and have limited opportunities to collaborate on projects with colleagues from the EU. Additionally, researchers’ salaries do not exceed 1,000 euros, even for those with permanent positions and the highest academic titles. Moreover, there are as many as 38 different salary levels. Jelena Begović, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, has had several meetings with representatives of universities and research institutions in the past few months to seek solutions to these problems. In addition to the work of the newly established Ministry mentioned above, separated from the Ministry of Education just a year before, the increased efforts to improve the status of researchers in Serbia are also evident in numerous programs of institutions such as the Innovation Fund, the Science Fund, but also the Center for the Promotion of Science – which is currently conducting a public call for citizen science projects. At the same time, these programs provide monetary incentives and the opportunity to increase collaborative experience, strengthen multidisciplinary engagement, establish connections with the industry, and promote innovative activities. Nonetheless, they motivate researchers to go on with their professional development.