News archive - [Event Announcement] Conference on the Challenges of Social Science Research at Western Balkan Universities

The conference Challenges of Social Science Research at the Western Balkan Universities was held on 7 March 2017, with the aim to determine the causes of this state of affairs and identify potential approaches to improve the working conditions for scientific researchers in the field of social sciences in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.

The conditions for scientific research work in the Western Balkan countries are highly unfavourable. The investment in scientific research is low, academic staff are overburdened with teaching activities, and they do not have time to conduct scientific research. In consequence, scientific research work in the region is generally characterised by a small number of research projects, a modest number of research papers published in international refereed journals, and a low level of participation in international projects and networks.

In spite of this, no significant measures have been taken in the last 20 years to incentivise the development of scientific work. Countries from the region, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, lag behind the rest of Europe when it comes to investment in the field.

The conference was organised by the RRPP Local Coordination Unit for Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the University of Banja Luka. It brought together eminent academics and representatives of line ministries and other institutions or organisations operating within the field in BiH, Serbia and Croatia.

The participants agreed that scientific research staff from universities in the Western Balkans are facing numerous challenges. Despite the unfavourable climate, there are certain possibilities and ways to intensify the scientific development in BiH, they concluded. It was recommended to introduce gradual and clearly defined changes in order to improve the quality of scientific performance, develop objective evaluation and foster cooperation at different levels, especially international cooperation. Realistic avenues of overcoming the identified problems and limitations for academic staff include membership in various academic networks, COST actions, exchange programmes such as Erasmus+, and participation in international conferences.

Solutions should be systemic and implemented at the state/entity/institutional level, starting with line ministries and other institutions. They should include drafting of strategic documents that aim to support internationally recognised scientific work, as well as laws and other legal acts, creating funds to support scientific research, and adopting stringent criteria for the conferment of academic titles. Attention should be devoted to the creation of centres of excellence, especially with the aim of supporting independent research and young researchers with post-graduate specialisations. Social development should be based on university research, which should also form the backbone of economic development, as is the case in Europe and some other parts of the world.

Finally, while there is a critical mass of researchers at universities in the Western Balkans who can meet the challenges of scientific research in social sciences, it should be remembered that raising academic criteria and adopting a more systemic strategic approach to joining the European research area are necessary to achieve the set objectives.

Source and further information are available here

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Geographical focus
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Giorgio Piccirillo on March 24, 2017
Modified on March 31, 2017