Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

A2 Research: PhD impact incubator

A2 coordinator: Dr Katarzyna (Kate) Negacz

Background 

All research executed by SENSE PhD candidates is important and deserves to be communicated clearly, both within the scientific community and in its larger societal context. There is no better person to develop and to practice this communication than yourself. Within SENSE, we want to support and challenge you towards developing these specific PhD competencies. As a result, the A2 project is one of the compulsory courses for all SENSE PhD candidates. 

Learning goals:

  • Increase the impact of your research
  • Learn and practice how to communicate with your stakeholders
  • Understand and communicate the societal relevance of your research
  • Position your research in an interdisciplinary context
  • Strengthen your scientific communication 

Format of the course

This course is conducted fully online. Register for the A2 course on the SENSE Portal and follow the steps enlisted in the portal. You should prepare a project proposal and send it to the coordinator via a form in the portal. After a Go-No-Go decision, you can start your project. When your project finishes, you should prepare a short final report and submit it via a form in the portal. A summary of your project, its results and impact will be published on the SENSE website to increase the project’s visibility and inspire others. 

Grading criteria for A2 projects

  • Scientific communication - clarification of analysis, accurate explanation of relevant knowledge, clarity of argument for experts as well as for laypersons. To meet this criterion, your project should communicate your research in a form appropriate for the audience, e.g. general audience or scientists from other fields.
  • Multidisciplinarity - the inclusion of relevant research questions from other scientific disciplines beyond one’s specialization and specific arguments for the relevance of such multidisciplinary research questions. To meet this criterion, your project should involve strong interaction with other fields of science, e.g. by engaging researchers from other fields or interdisciplinary approach to the problem.
  • Societal impact - bridging research with the societal issues, making results available to the non-academic public. To meet this criterion, your project should have a direct impact on societal stakeholders, e.g. by involving them in the project workshops, designing software for their use, communicating via relevant media channels. 

Your project should address all three criteria.

Forms the A2 activity 

Key questions for the A2 course are: Who should know my research? And by what activities can I reach these people? Therefore, for all the activities, please consider what your target audience is, why you bring these people together and what outcome you want to achieve.

Project for a general audience or specific stakeholder groups

  • Organize a conference (Dutch example);
  • Organize a SENSE PhD Colloquium or a SENSE Context Symposium (about the "bigger picture" of your research);
  • Organize a course including (online) in-depth courses; summer schools; PhD courses that include societal perspectives and are interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary; courses for high schools or the general public, etc.;
  • Organize a workshop/webinar for your stakeholders;
  • Write a research proposal (for a new research project) with a focus on stakeholder interactions;
  • Design and develop a media campaign and media network to get your work into newspapers, or other media. This can include writing press releases, and discussing with the press office of your institute how to go about.
  • Create and upload your own scientific 'home video' at Youtube, this may generate many hits and interest for your work including promotion strategy for your video.
  • Create (or contribute to) an information page in Wikipedia (link with examples)
  • Write a policy brief (recommendations from your research for current policies) and design a strategy to reach the policymakers 
  • Write a research view (a short, max. 6 pages, critical evaluation of the PhD candidate’s research) for the SENSE e-News or in journals that publish VIEWS, e.g. Re/Views in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology (http://www.wkap.nl/journals/resb) or Environmental Chemistry Letters (http://www.springer.de).
  • Conduct a project with a community, art group, elementary/secondary/high school, etc.
  • Propose your own project.

Please note that there are some activities which are related to your PhD environment but cannot count as A2 project. These include e.g. organising a group BBQ or pub quiz, a small workshop for PhD candidates of their chair group, and other activities with limited scientific or societal impact. These activities can still count for credits under the management section of your TSP.

Schedule and planning 

This is an ongoing (year-round) course. We advise submitting your A2 project proposal in 1-2 year of your PhD.

Contact
For question related to the course, please contact the project coordinator via email: k.e.negacz@vu.nl.