Research with windows wide open. Ten lessons on making an impact

Beatrice de Graaf, Maarten Prak, Paul 't Hart

Within the fields of humanities and social sciences, more attention has been paid in recent years to the concept of 'impact'. Research has to be relevant. But how do you do that, make an impact? Our professors of Security and Terrorism Beacrice de Graaf, Economic and Social History Maarten Prak and Public Administration Paul 't Hart co-wrote a brochure on this question.

Beatrice de Graaff
Prof. Beatrice de Graaf


The brochure, published by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), contains ten lessons for scientists who want to make an impact with their research. In addition to the scientists from Utrecht University, Godfriend Engbersen (EUR), Anita Evers (UL/EUR/TUD), Lotte Jensen (RU) and Leo Lucassen (UL/IISG) were also contributors. The lessons are based on their own experiences and offer colleagues some useful insights, because a concept like 'impact' initially raises many questions.

Prof. dr. Maarten Prak. Foto: Ed van Rijswijk
Prof. dr. Maarten Prak. Photo: Ed van Rijswijk


The authors emphasize that fundamental research is the basis of impact. And every scholar can generate social applications. Thinking about this should take place at the start of every project, even if creating impact is difficult due to the nature of the research. Another recommendation is that timing and opportunism are important tools for exposure. In the media, in politics and in large organisations, the attention for certain subjects fluctuates. As a scholar, you must be able to respond quickly.