Towards societal impact through open research

Is open research accelerating progress on global societal challenges?
A Dutch inquiry in collaboration with Springer Nature

Open research is fundamentally changing the way that researchers communicate and collaborate to advance discovery. New and dynamic open practices are increasing the findability, accessibility and reusability of results. Distribution channels are changing too, enabling others — from patients to policy makers — to increasingly benefit from these developments. This in turn has dramatically increased the societal impact of open research. But what remains less clear is the exact nature and scope of this wider impact and its societal relevance.

A strategic partnership

In order to answer these key questions, Springer Nature and The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) have formed a strategic partnership. Already in place is a national publish and read Open Access agreement, which both organisations were the first in Europe to pioneer in 2015. It is in the same pioneering spirit that this partnership now intends to continue advancing our knowledge in this critical domain. 

Our partners


Our technology partner

Digital Science

Sustainable Development Goals: Good health and well-being

Sustainable Development Goals: Quality education

Sustainable Development Goals: Affordable and clean energy

Sustainable Development Goals: Sustainable cities and communities

Sustainable Development Goals: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Interlinked research 

Three interlinked project groups have been set up. The results of the projects shed new light on the nature and scope of open research, thus allowing funders, institutions, and researchers to identify emerging trends and best practices.

Project 1 forms the starting point to the investigation which is to map scholarly research in the last ten years to the global grand challenges of our times. As a basis for the mapping, five goals from the UN Sustainable Development Program have been selected. These are: SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being; SDG 4: Quality Education; SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, with more to follow.

Project 2 will take the results of SDG research mapping and conduct extensive impact analysis, especially in the area of non-academic usage This project group will draw on bibliometric and altmetric indicators as well as extensive qualitative data from surveys.

Project 3 will extend the analysis to the researcher and library perspective by first identifying the key areas of support for facilitating impact generation. Second, providing an overview of the existing tools and resources currently used by researchers; and third, developing a set of best practices on the most effective ways that researchers can optimize impact. 

Together, the results of all three projects will shed new light on the nature and scope of the impact and societal relevance of open research, thus allowing funders, institutions, and researchers to identify emerging trends and best practices.

Project outcomes

The results of the projects groups will be released in open standards and further, made openly accessible to all stakeholders.Deliverables include: data sets, methodology outlines, trend reports, visualisations, etc.

International collaboration 

Participants for all three projects will be sourced from both Springer Nature as well as from Dutch research institutions. The day-to-day work of the projects will be supervised by a Consulting Group, as will the strategic direction by a high-level Steering Committee. See below for members.

About us

Steering Committee: 

Prof. dr. K.M. (Koen) Becking, Board Member at VSNU, and President of the Executive Board of Tilburg University 
Harry Blom, Vice President, Journals, Development, Policy and Strategy, Springer Nature
Carrie Webster, Vice President Open Access, Springer Nature 

Consulting Group:

Henk van den Hoogen, Chair of the UKB Coordination Platform for Research Impact, Programme Manager Research Support, Maastricht University Library
Ingrid Wijk, Director of the University Library, Maastricht University 
Darco Jansen, Manager Open Access and Open Science, VSNU
Maurice Vanderfeesten, Innovation Manager, Research Library Vrije University
Mithu Lucraft, Marketing Director, Outreach and Open Research
Harald Wirsching, Vice President, Strategy & Market Intelligence Group
Timon Oefelein, Senior Manager, Account Development, Strategic Partnerships, Outreach

Project Contacts

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Timon Oefelein

Springer Nature

Senior Manager, Account Development, Strategic Partnerships, Outreach

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Henk van den Hoogen


Project Manager

Media Contact

Katie Baker | tel +44 207 843 2651|