CEON/CEES Research Crumbs, 01/17,  29 December 2017 DOI:


Serbian WoS-indexed journals: What’s their use for the local scholarly community?

Pero Šipka

Centre for Evaluation in Education and Science, Belgrade

In today’s circumstances, when local and foreign journals are equally accessible to us thanks to the Internet, the usefulness (contribution to local science, effectiveness) of the most valuable local Web of Science-indexed journals can only be estimated based on the extent to which they publish articles by local authors and cite other local journals. By publishing in these journals, authors and publishers contribute to the performance of their country because the Web of Science (WoS) is used as an informational basis for evaluating countries’ scientific productivity.

In a recent study by CEON/CEES, it has been found that Serbian journals’ “contribution to the national science” is lower than that of their counterparts in the countries of the wider region (Šipka, 2016). In this respect, the situation has not changed over the past decade, although the percentage share of local authors’ articles in the journals of all surveyed countries, including Serbia, has seen a noteworthy increase in the past few years.

Fig. 1. The percentage of local authors’ articles published in Serbian journals and the corresponding values for the countries of the wider region

EU-Southeast= Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia and Hungary; EU-Balkans = Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia; Balkans = Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Moldova

Relying on this observation and the findings of some earlier studies (Moed, 2002; Waltman i Van Eck, 2013), in this study, the contribution achieved in local WoS-indexed journals was excluded from the comparative analysis of the observed countries' performance and CEON/CEES will abide by this principle it the future studies. Nevertheless, it must be highlighted that this type of data refinement is not widely accepted. Therefore, the issue of ‘the national WoS-indexed journals contribution to the national science’ remains topical and unresolved. This issue is substantially important to merit a brief comment.

The 2016 CEON/CEES Journal Bibliometric Report reveals that some journals published in Serbia practically never contain articles by local authors. The question inevitably arises whether it is reasonable to subsidize such journals from the public budget allocated to science. The eligibility criteria for allocating subsidies do not mention such a criterion but it is assumed that the funds are intended for the members of the local scholarly community, and not to foreign authors.

However, the coin has another side. In science and, accordingly, in scholarly publishing, there is no place for ‘scientific nationalism’. The openness to all authors, regardless of their origin, is one of the criteria that journals have to meet in order to be accepted for indexing in WoS. The share of international articles is one of the indicators of journals’ ‘internationalization’ used by CEON/CEES in the Journal Bibliometric Report. Nevertheless, this indicator is not intended for Serbian WoS-indexed journals, but rather for the other local journals, not indexed in WoS. The purpose of the indicator is to encourage secluded and insufficiently established local journals to improve their quality by attracting renowned international authors, thereby gaining international reputation and increasing their impact. Also, the internationalization of local scholarly publishing should not be conceived as giving priority to just any foreign authors, but rather those who have a high international reputation and especially citation rates. The efforts in this direction made on the part of editorial boards should depend on whether their journals are still striving o attain international prominence, or they have already established themselves and have fairly firmly entrenched their position in WoS.

In developing countries, keeping a balance between these complex and mutually opposing requirements should be part of a highly elaborate public publishing policy defined by the funding and regulatory bodies. In Serbia, this is the ministry responsible for science. Unfortunately, the ministry has failed to define such a policy – not even in an elementary form. Although all conditions are in place to do this, the indicators of journals’ bibliometric quality, such as internationality, are not used when making decisions which journals to subsidize. Not only that the ministry does not disclose publicly the amounts allocated to individual journals but this information remains unavailable even to the institutions collaborating with the ministry. In other words, this information is treated as a carefully guarded state secret.


Moed, H.F. (2002). Measuring China’s research performance using the Science Citation Index. Scientometrics, 53(3), 281-296.

Šipka, P. (2013). Bibliometric quality of Serbian journals 2002-2011: More than just a dress for success, In: P. Šipka (Ed.), Journal Publishing in Developing, Transition and Emerging Countries: Proceedings of the 5th Belgrade International Open Access Conference 2012, Belgrade, Serbia, May 18-19, 2012, pp. 161-166

Šipka, P. (2016). Deset godina naglog rasta srpske naučne produkcije: ali šta je sa njenim kvalitetom? U: Kostic A. (Ur.) Nauka: stanje, strategija, perspektive, Beograd: Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, pp.33-62

Waltman, L., & Van Eck, N. J. (2013). Source normalized indicators of citation impact: An overview of different approaches and an empirical comparison. Scientometrics, 96(3), 699-716.

How to cite this article: Šipka, P., (2017). Serbian WoS-indexed journals: What’s their use for the local scholarly community?, CEON/CEES Research Crumbs, No. 2017-03-1.

CEON/CEES Research Crumbs is a series of brief research reports presenting findings from CEON/CEES’s area of expertise. Reports may be prepared by the team members of CEON/CEES or other researchers. Reports contain high-quality, straightforward and concise data, preferably presented visually and dynamically. If the presented data are not original, they must be analyzed in an alternative context and interpreted in a new light.

Reports published in the CEON/CEES Research Crumbs series are subject to internal peer review but they do not necessarily reflect the positions of CEON/CEES as an institution. They are published in Serbian or English, or in both languages parallelly and are available through the website of CEON/CEES.




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