We are pleased to highlight our very first LIBER-OCLC Innovative Awardees for 2021 — Henk van den Hoogen from the University Library Maastricht and Timon Oefelein from Springer Nature.
Background to the Awardee/Institution
Maastricht University (UM) is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterised by a small-scale, student-oriented approach. Research at UM comprises a multidisciplinary, thematic approach and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. The University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university’s strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.
The University Library (UB) is a partner in research and education at UM and supports knowledge development and dissemination within the UM community. The main target groups of the UB are researchers, lecturers, and students of the UM. The library also works for the UM campuses, MUMC+, UM contract partners, the city of Maastricht, and regional and euregional educational partners. If you want to know more about the University Library, look at the highlights from 2020 and annual agenda for 2021.
As Program Manager of Research Support at the University Library, Henk van den Hoogen was in the lead in identifying researchers’ needs throughout the whole research cycle and looks for ways to help researchers via a coherent set of services and tooling on Scholarly Communication, Research registration, Research Intelligence, and Research Data management.
Open Science has set a lot into motion in the past years. Looking for instance at research performance specifically, quantitative measurements such as research output, citation analyses, and acquired grants, have determined the career path of academics for many years. In 2019, a nationwide initiative was launched to redefine the recognition and reward of academics. As part of an international and national scientific community, Maastricht University wholeheartedly participates in this programme.
On this note, the University Library has joined forces to support this change. They support management of the university and faculties to register and publish all relevant research output and to gain insights into the societal impact of research. Via a Research Intelligence dashboard, training, and awareness sessions, they contribute to the cultural change of impact and assessments.
Background to the Joint VSNU-Springer/Nature Project
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) launched a unique collaborative Open Science initiative together with Springer Nature and several academic libraries in the Netherlands, to find answers to the following questions:
- To what extent does open access increase the societal impact of scholarly content relevant to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?
- How does this differ for academic, public, and government audiences?
- How can libraries support and help researchers optimise the societal impact of their research?
The project results shed new light into this critical area on multiple fronts: defining societal impact and new ways of capturing and evaluating it; mapping SDG content; the role of open access formats; researchers’ attitudes towards societal impact; and best practices for libraries and researchers.
The project findings consist of over 45 data sets and three online dashboards, all openly accessible with data published in ZENODO under a CC BY licence. The Open Science dimension along with FAIR data principles, was a key underlying requirement of the project.
Project work included building one of the world’s first SDG content classifiers using both machine learning and extensive human input from a team of subject experts. Further, two large global researcher surveys were conducted. The first set of results outlines researchers’ motivations towards SDG research and its impact as evidenced by responses from some 9000 participants across the world.
The second set of survey data, featuring 5900 responses, provides insight into usage trends of both OA (Open Access) and non-OA content. Together, the results provide unique and evidence-based insight into the volume and nature of SDG content, the role of Open Access in maximising reach and dissemination, and finally, how libraries can help researchers optimise societal impact. The latter is based on a set of six workshops organised and hosted by the libraries of Maastricht University and the Free University Amsterdam. In the workshops, researchers shared their experiences in this domain, and second, learned how to devise and implement an impact strategy.
This unique Open Science initiative demonstrates how various stakeholders (library, technology vendor, publisher, research association) can successfully join forces and collaboratively work together, using Open Science approaches, to advance knowledge in this critical domain.
How did the LIBER-OCLC Innovation Award Make a Difference in Fulfilling your Project?
In line with Maastricht University’s Open Science Policy and worldwide developments to broaden the impact of science, there is the major ambition to ensure the project has societal impact.
In one of the projects of this VSNU-Springer/Nature collaboration, we identified key areas of support for facilitating impact generation, provided an overview of the existing tools and resources currently used by researchers, and third, developed a set of best practices on the most effective ways that researchers can optimise impact.
Realization of this ambition starts with the actions of each researcher. What can the researcher do to seek that connection with target groups beyond their peers in academia? Along with the aforementioned ambition, the need to indicate the (potential) societal impact of research when applying for grants increases.
Lastly, as part of the Innovation Award, we will develop a train-the-trainer workshop as the first step towards sustainable, faculty-specific support for researchers on this topic. In this workshop, researchers will be able to formulate their impact plan tailored to the researcher’s strategy (in line with the differentiation in profiles as intended in Recognition & Rewards). You can also view the Toolkit for researchers developed as a result of the project here.