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Report from WebInUnion project survey on working conditions for researchers in Serbia

Working conditions for researchers in Serbia

Check out what the researchers themselves expressed as the most important aspects of the working conditions in Serbian R&D organizations. The report below is the result of the WeBInUnion project, finished on 2014.

Report from WebInUnion project survey on working conditions for researchers in Serbia

86% of respondents work as full-time employee. Only very few are working under the contract (7%) and from home (1%). In 43% of cases, the employer offers all flexible working conditions, as indicated in the survey, while 40% of respondents answered that only some of the flexible conditions were offered. 16% responded that none of the listed flexible working conditions were offered. This structure of responses can be considered as unsatisfactory, because as much as 65% of respondents answered that flexible working time is very important for them, with additional 20% who assigned a mark 4 to this question.

As it is typical for public universities and research institutes, 90% of respondents answered that their organizations were covering all costs of health and pension insurance. For only 3% this was not the case, although they indicated that they would like these costs to be covered. 44% or researchers indicated that they would like to participate in European fund for supplementary pensions even if this involves additional costs, while the same number declared that they would like to participate but only without a presumption of the additional costs. 11% of respondents were not interested at all.

The answers on the questions regarding whether the information about working conditions, rights and career perspective was presented by the organizations to the researcher in the course of his/her employment, are not consistent. 59% of respondents indicated that they were presented this information (fully or at most), while 21% answered that none of this information was presented or only partially (19%).

Another inconsistency among the answers is noted when the opportunities for additional training are considered. Namely, 30% answered that they were continuously offered these opportunities. A total of 54% indicated that this offer is made sometimes or rarely, while 15% were never offered such opportunities.

Yet another inconsistency appeared when continuous evaluation of the researchers’ work was considered. 25% of respondents answered that their work is not being evaluated. Out of the others, 26% indicated that this evaluation is not useful for them; while 48% highlighted that it is very useful.

It seems that mobility is not equally evaluated as a contribution to a personal professional development. 29% of respondents were neutral in response to this question (mark 3); 33% highlighted that this experience is positively evaluated (marks 4 or 5), while 36% it was not valued.

Freedom to choose the research topic is a feature of the Serbian research landscape, according to the majority of 68% of respondents.

Regarding the level of satisfaction of the balance between professional and private life (and salaries) among researchers, it seems that most of them were neutral. 64% (67%) of respondents assigned marks 3 or 4 in a response to these questions. 19% (10%) were very satisfied, while 16% (23%) were not satisfied (marks 1 or 2) at all.

Regarding the benefits of the work in their organizations, the respondents highlighted the importance of free days (62% with marks 5 or 4), covering transport costs (61%), access to resources (57%), while what were not considered as important (or offered) were holiday bonuses (40% with marks 1 or 2). The respondents were neutral regarding career opportunities.

Based on the responses to the question on the offering of the adequate research infrastructure by the employer, it seems that again the respondents were neutral, because 58% answered that this offer is only partial. 17% confirmed full adequacy of the offered infrastructure, while 24% declared that this offer was fully inadequate.

The question related to a gender balance in the research organizations revealed a well-balanced distribution. However, as much as 26% of respondents declared that they have suffered some kind of gender discrimination in the office, while 3% of respondents answered that the discrimination is continuous.

Typically, in Serbian research landscape, employment in the public research organization is for the lifetime. Hence, 65% of researchers have never worked in another sector, while 29% did. Those who did work worked in another sector on project partnerships, proposal writing and experimental work.

Only 6% indicated that they thought that this would be useful for them. Inconsistent with this statement is the finding that as many as 83% of respondents collaborated (continuously or sometimes) with other research sectors in the course of their career.