The societal impact of Open Science: a scoping review

Authors : Nicki Lisa Cole, Eva Kormann, Thomas Klebel, Simon Apartis, Tony Ross-Hellauer

Open Science (OS) aims, in part, to drive greater societal impact of academic research. Government, funder and institutional policies state that it should further democratize research and increase learning and awareness, evidence-based policy-making, the relevance of research to society’s problems, and public trust in research. Yet, measuring the societal impact of OS has proven challenging and synthesized evidence of it is lacking.

This study fills this gap by systematically scoping the existing evidence of societal impact driven by OS and its various aspects, including Citizen Science (CS), Open Access (OA), Open/FAIR Data (OFD), Open Code/Software and others. Using the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews and searches conducted in Web of Science, Scopus and relevant grey literature, we identified 196 studies that contain evidence of societal impact. The majority concern CS, with some focused on OA, and only a few addressing other aspects.

Key areas of impact found are education and awareness, climate and environment, and social engagement. We found no literature documenting evidence of the societal impact of OFD and limited evidence of societal impact in terms of policy, health, and trust in academic research. Our findings demonstrate a critical need for additional evidence and suggest practical and policy implications.


The production of scientific and societal value in research evaluation: a review of societal impact assessment methods

Authors : Jorrit P Smit, Laurens K Hessels

Over the past two decades, several methods have been developed to evaluate the societal impact of research. Compared to the practical development of the field, the conceptual development is relatively weak.

This review article contributes to the latter by elucidating the theoretical aspects of the dominant methods for evaluating societal impact of research, in particular, their presuppositions about the relationship between scientific and societal value of research. We analyse 10 approaches to the assessment of the societal impact of research from a constructivist perspective.

The methods represent different understandings of knowledge exchange, which can be understood in terms of linear, cyclical, and co-production models. In addition, the evaluation methods use a variety of concepts for the societal value of research, which suggest different relationships with scientific value.

While some methods rely on a clear and explicit distinction between the two types of value, other methods, in particular Evaluative Inquiry, ASIRPA, Contribution Mapping, Public Value Mapping, and SIAMPI, consider the mechanisms for producing societal value integral to the research process.

We conclude that evaluation methods must balance between demarcating societal value as a separate performance indicator for practical purposes and doing justice to the (constructivist) science studies’ findings about the integration of scientific and societal value of research.

Our analytic comparison of assessment methods can assist research evaluators in the conscious and responsible selection of an approach that fits with the object under evaluation. As evaluation actively shapes knowledge production, it is important not to use oversimplified concepts of societal value.

URL : The production of scientific and societal value in research evaluation: a review of societal impact assessment methods