Projects

Here you will find a description of the projects that I am currently involved in. ‘Professional Practices’ is my main project. This project, as well as the other projects I am working on, all relate to the position of science in society. The majority focusses on societal impact of academic research in specific.

Professional Practices

Many academics consider engagement with and impact on other individuals, groups and organizations in society inherent to their profession. Nevertheless, in recent decades governments, research funders and universities have introduced policies and strategies to increase impact of academics on society. Effects of these policies and strategies on research are well documented. Surprisingly, effects on impact itself have thus far received little attention. Do policies affect the types of individuals, groups or organizations that academics engage with and have an impact on?

My two-year Rubicon project for the first time addresses this issue within the context of universities by answering the research question ‘how do impact strategies affect societal engagement of academics?’ The project is positioned in the managerialism versus professionalism debate and located at the intersection of science policy studies and public administration. I take a combined case study approach of the Netherlands and the UK and include nested case studies of four universities and three research fields. The first step of the project is to map how universities develop impact strategies and how these strategies are translated to faculty and department levels. The second step is to map how academics relate to these strategies.

Dear Science

The authority of science is no longer self-evident. In public debate, alternative facts and self-proclaimed experts compete with scientific evidence and academics. Is this development a threat to science?

Together with drs Leonie van Drooge of the Rathenau Instituut (the Netherlands), Elena Ketting, MA and prof. dr. Stef Aupers of the Institute for Media Studies of Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), I am analyzing over 300 readers’ letters about science, published in two Dutch Newspapers (NRC Handesblad and Telegraaf). We aim to understand trend in perspectives on science in Dutch society. The distinctive element of our approach is that we have collected our data without interference of a survey or interviewer. This allows us to capture bottom-up emerging views on science.

What constitutes societal impact of academic research? Answers from sub-Saharan Africa.

The definition of societal impact is unclear to many academics. This is a barrier to the practice of impact, as it limits reflection upon practices and therefor limits learning and improvement. Scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa is rapidly developing and has the potential to contribute to solving societal problems. How do academics in sub-Saharan Africa think about societal impact?

In collaboration with dr. Nelius Boshoff of the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) of Stellenbosch University (South-Africa) I aim to what societal impact is to academics in sub-Saharan Africa. We build upon European experiences with impact and on a unique dataset collected by dr. Boshoff. The dataset includes over 400 responses from academics from multiple disciplines across sub-Saharan Africa.