Look beyond the traditional ways of publishing

Publishing with impact according to Maarten Kleinhans

How do you make sure your research results will be widespread? Maarten Kleinhans, professor of Physical Geography at Utrecht University achieves this aim by the integration of open academic output, collaborative partnerships with companies and public authorities, and taking academic teaching outside the university:

To me, all activities that contribute to research, education and their impact are completely interwoven.

Maarten Kleinhans

If we really want to achieve impact by our academic research, we will have to look beyond grants and publishing in leading journals. And we will have to organise activities in society, not only in the academic world.

This is how it works:

  • Bring together people from different sectors in society 

At the beginning of this year I again organised the Brunings lecture, which was held for the fifth time. Scholars and scientists from all over the world, practitioners and other professionals met to learn about the latest developments in the field of managing rivers and estuaries, the subject of our experiments in the Metronome, a research tool enabling scale modelling of estuaries. The presentations given by PhD candidates, postdocs and one of the companies involved resulted in a useful overview of the findings, something you will never come upon in a regular publication.


  • Publish findings in another way

Consequently, research results will also be available to people outside the academic world. For instance, the results of this day are published on the Brunings lecture website, including the links to Open Access papers, linking in their turn to other data, such as open source code, animations and videos made by my team members. This kind of synthesis is unusual for review journals which would rather not see too many references to your own work. On such a day a network is created of users (public authorities, institutions, companies) who are meeting in a friendly and open atmosphere, resulting in a further spread of knowledge.


  • Look beyond academic teaching

By collaborating with Teacher Training Colleges for Primary Education, primary and secundary schools I introduce pupils and future teachers to academic research via the Wetenschapsknooppunt. For instance, I helped to realise a revolutionary new schoolyard, a school garden actually, for De Lanteerne, a primary school in Nijmegen, with pumps, rivers, a kitchen garden and a miniature Metronome. I am also involved in a winning school project about the Eems Dollard by two secundary school pupils from Groningen.

We take these examples back to our Bachelor's and Master's programmes to illustrate the workplace of the potential employers of our students. Of course the videos are shown too.

Do you want to find more inspiring impact stories? Or would you like to share your own experiences? Read the other impact stories or contact the library.