In this edition: Science and Policymaking Dialogue, Impact of SSH Research on Society", UNICEF's Drivers of Violence in Peru, and more
We are living and working in a time in which isolation and distrust seem to be determing the course and welfare of societies all around the world. While science could play a part in bursting the, what some might call, bubbles within society,  it also has to continuously and exhaustingly prove its worth to other members of society. Thankfully, between the "post-truths", "echo-chambering", and "hoax-news", AESIS happily brings you news and publications about successful citizen-engagement, evidence-informed policymaking and capacity-building all around the world. 

So, enjoy this month's AESIS Newsletter!
Anika S. Duut van Goor
General manager, AESIS Network
2-6 April
4 April
26-28 April
31 May - 2 June
12-13 June
Managing an Entrepreneurial Knowledge Region, Cambridge
AESIS Research Excellence and Societal Impact, Online webinar
Broader Impacts Summit, Stevenson WA
Times Higher Education Summit, Hong Kong
AESIS Impact of Science Conference
& the 'Sweden Impact Award'
, Stockholm
Short News

Swedish Research and Innovation Bill
Sweden has presented a new research bill at the end of November 2016, called: Collaborating for knowledge. Times Higher Education stated that Sweden has dropped a few places the last couple of years in the ranking of countries based on the number of publications in relation to their population, countries behind Sweden are rapidly catching up as well. In order to address this issue they aim to incentivise collaboration between universities with projects like KLOSS, an increase in the basic university funding of €133 million, encouraging greater private investment and creating more attracting environments for young students. Read the article.

UK Higher Research and Education Bill
The new higher research and education bill has been presented to the house of lords in the UK in the beginning of January and is currently at the report stage. The bill will introduce the Teaching Excellence Framework, a lower threshold for private providers to award degrees and the creation of a new body called the Office for Students. The bill is also intended to let the government better monitor and assess the quality of teaching in England’s universities. Read the article.  

Valorisation Letter
The Dutch government has drafted a valorisation letter that has been published the 19th of January in order to assess the progress made in terms of the 'sciencevision' policy. Further content of this letter are the ambitions the government has to stimulate valorisation even more and the actions that have to be taken in order to achieve this. The actions spoken about are the summarized in the creed: Stimulate, appreciate, strengthen and monitor. More specific, this creed is going to be realized by policy such as making the rules for beginning a start-up more transparent, different rating methods to weaken the publication pressure and unifying indicators to better monitor valorisation. Read the letter here (Dutch).

Sweden Impact Award

As can be read in the short news section reforms and new initiatives are growing within the academic world. More and more countries and institution seem to understand the need to change. In a world where science needs to have impact while still being fundamental and with unquestionable integrity it is getting more and more difficult to walk this narrow line.

To motivate researchers who are actively working in line with all these demands. AESIS wants to introduce the ‘Sweden Impact Award’ during the annual ‘Impact of Science’ conference which takes place in Sweden this year. All universities in Sweden have been asked to submit their world class research projects with the highest impact into four categories. We are hoping this initiative will make the world of science more translucent and motivate scientist even more.


Webinar 2017
The 4th of April AESIS, in collaboration with Elsevier, will be hosting a webinar on "Uniting research excellence and societal impact". The confirmed speakers for this webinar are Peter Darroch, Senior Product Manager Research Metrics at Elsevier, and Rinze Benedictus, Strategic Advisor at University Medical Centre Utrecht. The main question of this webinar will be: 'How can research excellence and societal impact be united in one model?' If you want to join, please register on the AESIS-website.
Inference in coupled human-natural systems
A study of main author Martin D. from Duke university has revealed the economic impact of so called dead or hypoxic zones, these zones are characterized by low  or depleted levels of oxygen in the water making it harder for aquatic creatures to grow or even live. An hypoxic zone can develop naturally but often it is caused by the exudation of extensive amounts of nutrients, containing nitrogen and phosphorus.

These dead zones drive up the price of large shrimps because of their negatively affected growth. It was already known that the dead zones have far reaching ecological impact but now a direct link has been found to the economy. These findings are important because of the value that can be placed on nutrient pollution into our oceans. Since the pollution now has a real market value it will help policymakers to quantify the market value of nutrient pollution and eventually help reduce this problem. Read the entire article 

Science and Policymaking: towards a new dialogue

By dr. Fabiana Scapolo

Innovative tools at the JRC
For the last 60 years, the Joint Research Centre has worked at the interface between science and policy, supplying high quality scientific evidence to inform policy-making and facilitate the implementation of policies. This task has been performed with a constant desire to improve communication between science and policy. Last year the JRC has launched the EU Policy Lab. The main aim of the Lab is to bring innovation to policymaking. Specific efforts have also been targeted to take an anticipatory perspective to engage in innovative ways scientific knowledge for the benefit of policy-makers. The JRC Scenario Exploration System is witness to this trend.

The 'Scenario Exploration System' (SES) is an award winning future simulation tool that engages participants to take roles to explore issues of interest in contexts created by future scenarios. The SES games creates an experience for participants as it takes them to practice future-oriented systematic thinking spontaneously by making them take actions to reach their long-term objectives in contrasting scenarios. Their experience is enriched by interaction with other stakeholders. By creating a realistic journey towards the future, the SES is generating a safe space to simulate possible responses connected to any issue of interest to the participants. This engagement platform helps people imagine what the scenarios of interest could mean for themselves and can be used for strategic development, preparedness, etc. The content of each session is recorded for possible use in later debriefing.

The SES has been designed on the basis of JRC foresight studies to offer 5 people an in-depth realistic experience with direct personal contact. It can be adapted to any scenario, any issue and a very wide range of roles. It has been used with a wide range of people from 13 to 67 years old to explore many issues. Several editions are available. More are being produced.
Is it possible to get the crowd to fund research, isn’t it the government’s role?

(This article was published in the last newsletter as well, but unfortunately with a faulty link. Please find the article with the correct links again below. Our apologies for the inconvenience.)

By dr. Tzameret H. Rubin

Impact@SBE is an impact team at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University, UK. Among its other tasks to help the school’s academics to develop and monitor their research impact, it explores newer, non-traditional ways of promoting impact, such as Crowdfunding for Research.

Apparently, a dedicated policy for this is not common across UK universities (even in bodies such as HEFCE). Therefore, the team has decided to open the discussion and explore possibilities. To kick-start (yet not Kickstarter..) this initiative, The Crowdfunding Centre was invited to attend an event, which saw academics from across the campus discuss how this emerging form of funding can complement traditional methods of obtaining research funding. Professor Tom Jackson, Associate Dean for Research at the SBE and Director of the Centre for Information Management, highlighted the importance of this and commented:

“Especially as securing research funding becomes more challenging we are looking for innovative ways to fund research that matters.”

According to Impact@SBE, using crowdfunding for research could be a great mechanism for engaging with the public to increase research impact, a goal that is aligned with one of the main objectives in Lord Stern’s Review ‘Building on Success and Learning from Experience. An Independent Review of the REF’, July 2016 that says “We recommend that impact on public engagement and understanding are emphasised.”

Crowdfunding shows a 48.3 per cent guaranteed funding rate (a figure that any researcher would embrace warmly), with the average project size costing £3,730. Furthermore, there are only around 6 per cent of repeat backers for projects, which means researchers can engage with different audience for each funding campaign, and hence increase their research exposure.

[...] Read further online.
Promoting responsible research practices

By Wendy Reijmerink 

Due to outdated systems in the society we are in dire need of sustainable innovation. This is why there is a growing demand for practice-led research. Systematic interaction between research and policy leads to beter handling of societal problems by the researcher and a higher level of knowledge on the side of the user. [...]

Click here for the article (Dutch)
Impact of SSH Research on Society – Citizen Participation in Linguistic Application “Lingscape”

By Satoko Bizzotto

What is the best way for the general public to be aware of research? That is to participate in it! A linguist, Dr. Christoph Purschke, University of Luxembourg, together with Prof. Peter Gilles, has developed a mobile application “Lingscape”, a sort of “Pokemon Go” in linguistics. The usage is simple. You are walking on the street and you see an interesting sign in different languages. You take a photo with your smartphone – catch the sign! – and upload it in the application. It will appear on a linguistic map – you can explore the map and see interesting results from all the others who have also uploaded a photo.
The main purpose of “Lingscape” is to study multilingualism and societal dynamics in Luxembourg. Which language appears more often than others in which context and where? What does the presence or absence of specific languages say about the social dynamics of Luxembourg as a society? With half of the population being foreigners and the country having three official languages (French, German and Luxembourgish), Luxembourg is more than ideal for analysing linguistic varieties in everyday life.
In a pilot study conducted last summer in Luxembourg City, over 40 different languages were captured within only a couple of hours. Since then, Dr. Purschke has accumulated over 3,000 images together with anonymous citizens who downloaded the application. From March 2017, school children will also participate in “Lingscape”, creating their own ‘language map’ of their neighbourhood.
“Lingscape”, however, is not only limited to Luxembourg. The map is available worldwide and the data is also collected little by little from outside Luxembourg.
‘Impact is ultimately about the non-academic benefits to the society’ is what we learned in the AESIS Winter Course in November 2016. “Lingscape” project, although we have not yet fully seen its potentials, is a good example of conducting research outside the ‘ivory tower’ involving citizens who are curious about research itself but also about their living environment.
“Lingscape” application is free and available in AppStore and Google Play. More information on:
Assessing the Impact of UNICEF’s Drivers of Violence research In Peru

By Kerry Albright
Not many people are aware that UNICEF has a dedicated centre for research, the Office of Research - Innocenti. based in Florence, Italy.  One of our current projects is a multi- country study of the Drivers of Violence affecting children led by Dr Catherine Maternowska in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and national partners in Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Italy and Peru.  The goals of the project are to: (i) deepen understanding of the drivers of violence affecting children, leading to the design of effective initiatives at scale that prevent it; (ii) contribute to the global evidence base on how and why change happens; (iii) develop a replicable practice model on how to combine research and effective intervention to prevent violence affecting children.

Fascinatingly, potentially as a result of the human-centred design ‘Research to Policy & Practice’ (R3P) model developed by the project which places an onus on local ownership and in-country secondary analysis of existing data, research outcomes and instrumental (policy change) impacts appear to be emerging even before publication of research outputs and any obvious academic impact.  Similarly, only two years in to the project, there are already strong indications of capacity-building impact and conceptual impact amongst national stakeholders.

For example, whilst acknowledging the difficulties of ‘attribution’ vs ‘contribution’, perceived pathways to impact in Peru include changes in national legislation and public policies on corporal punishment; direct influence on national and international discourse and action plans relating to violence prevention; secondary analysis and use of previously suppressed sensitive national datasets on violence; maximizing value for money through use of existing data rather than commissioning of unnecessary expensive primary research; leveraging of national co-funding for new national budgeting for violence-prevention and adoption of the R3P model in other countries outside of the project.  Additional ‘softer’ impacts relate to claims of increased confidence, empowerment and voice amongst Peruvian researchers, civil servants and government officials. [...]

Please read the rest of the article here!
Citizen Science Award in Austria

By Petra Siegele

The Citizen Science Award was organized by the Austrian Center for Citizen Science, which was established at the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD-GmbH) in June 2015 by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and serves as an information and service center for researchers, citizens and experts from different disciplines. Another task of the center is the cross-linking of the interested community beyond Austria.

More than 3,000 citizens rose up to the challenge by collecting data and sending their observations, pictures and samples by mail, via app, email or uploading them to online platforms. To motivate participants the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy created prizes worth up to 3,000 Euro and awarded them during a festive ceremony on the 13th of December in Vienna. Almost 250 guests attended this event to celebrate the great engagement of all citizen scientists. 17 schools and 20 associations, groups and individuals received awards in honour of their contributions. 

Last year from April until September 2016 pupils, students, employees, workers and everyone else from all over Austria was invited to participate in one of a total of ten citizen science projects. The aim of the Citizen Science Award is to motivate citizens from all age groups to get involved in research. Scientists asked the public for support to help answer a variety of research questions: how is the landscape of Austria changing? How many hedgehogs live in Austrian gardens? How can online labs be used in the classrooms? 

Links for further Information:
In German, in English.


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