We analyze a set of three databases at different levels of aggregation: (a) a database of approximately 106 publications from 247 countries published from 1980-2001, (b) a database of 508 academic institutions from the European Union (EU) and 408 institutes from the United States for the 11-year period of 1991-2001, and (c) a database of 2,330 Flemish authors published in the period from 1980-2000. At all levels of aggregation we find that the mean annual growth rates of publications is independent of the number of publications of the various units involved. We also find that the standard deviation of the distribution of annual growth rates decays with the number of publications as a power law with exponent approximate to 0.3. These findings are consistent with those of recent studies of systems such as the size of research and development funding budgets of countries, the research publication volumes of U.S. universities, and the size of business firms.