Special Issue "Third Mission and Societal Impact"

A special issue of Publications (ISSN 2304-6775).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Benedikt Fecher

Guest Editor
Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Interests: Open science and open access; Data governance; Research integrity; Innovative research infrastructures; Knowledge transfer and scientific impact
Dr. Isabel Roessler

Guest Editor
CHE Centre for Higher Education, Guetersloh, Germany

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the light of global challenges, such as climate change, migration, and digitization, policy makers and funding agencies increasingly expect societal engagement and applicable results from academic research. Establishing deeper engagement with industry, politics, media, and civil society has become a key concern for universities who have established a third mission alongside their core teaching and research missions. The third mission is set on three pillars: continuing education, social engagement, and (knowledge) transfer.

This ‘third mission’ can thus be understood as an umbrella term that subsumes a whole range of activities with the overall aim of linking academia with society. Though societal engagement has always been a key task for universities, the increased public interest in recent years – in times in which academic knowledge creation itself is changing – has proven challenging for higher education institutions.

This issue welcomes contributions that address the governance, evaluation, and organizational management of third mission activities. Abstracts should in particular (but not exclusively) address the following questions:

  • How can research funders, policy makers, and institutions for higher education incentivize third mission activities?
  • To what degree can societal impact be planned? Where are potential conflicts with scientific freedom?
  • How can the success of third mission activities be measured?
  • Are the metrics we have beneficial or obstructive to increasing the societal impact of research?
  • What are the institutional barriers for continuing education, social engagement, and knowledge transfer?
  • What are suitable quality criteria for third mission activities?
  • What are the disciplinary differences when it comes to third mission activities and impact assessments?

Here we welcome abstracts (up to 1000 words) that investigate knowledge transfer and societal impact. After an initial review, authors of the best contributions will be invited to submit a full paper to our online submission system.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 May 2019

We explicitly welcome contributions from every discipline and from different perspectives.

Dr. Benedikt Fecher
Dr. Isabel Roessler
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Publications is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Third mission
  • Societal impact
  • Public engagement
  • Continuing education

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Communication on the Science-Policy Interface: An Overview of Conceptual Models
Publications 2019, 7(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7040064 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article focuses on scholarly discourse on the science-policy interface, and in particular on questions regarding how this discourse can be understood in the course of history and which lessons we can learn. We aim to structure the discourse, show kinships of different [...] Read more.
This article focuses on scholarly discourse on the science-policy interface, and in particular on questions regarding how this discourse can be understood in the course of history and which lessons we can learn. We aim to structure the discourse, show kinships of different concepts, and contextualize these concepts. For the twentieth century we identify three major phases that describe interactions on the science policy interface: the “linear phase” (1960s–1970s) when science informed policy-making in a unidirectional manner, the “interactive phase” (1970–2000s) when both sides found themselves in a continuous interaction, and the “embedded phase” (starting from the 2000s) when citizens’ voices come to be involved within this dialogue more explicitly. We show that the communicative relationship between science and policy-making has become more complex over time with an increasing number of actors involved. We argue that better skill-building and education can help to improve communication within the science-policy interface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Third Mission and Societal Impact)
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Open AccessArticle
Third Mission as an Opportunity for Professionalization in Science Management
Publications 2019, 7(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7040062 - 08 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
With the rise of the Third Mission of universities, the role of science management, which itself has been growing steadily over the years, is gaining relevance for organizational success. Science managers possess exclusive knowledge of organizational processes and keep their own external networks; [...] Read more.
With the rise of the Third Mission of universities, the role of science management, which itself has been growing steadily over the years, is gaining relevance for organizational success. Science managers possess exclusive knowledge of organizational processes and keep their own external networks; neither scientists nor university management can give up on successfully carrying out Third Mission activities, such as lifelong learning or student exchange programs. This study takes up the question of whether this exclusive knowledge of science managers fosters their institutional establishment as influential—and therefore, professional—actors. This leads to the research question: Which power resources are available and used by science managers in the relationships with scientists and university management? The theoretical approach builds upon power resources and micro-politics as the core explaining variables for influencing others. In this pursuit, case studies of four German universities with altogether 27 qualitative interviews were conducted with science managers, university management and scientists. The results show that science managers only partially experiment with tactics that entail more risk, such as barter trade or dominance and the most common strategy in relation to others is moderation by idealization or objectivity. In contrast to expectations, they hereby lean more often on internal than on external networks as power resources. In general, two patterns emerge from the analysis: One group of science managers that act managerial and wishes for more room for individual maneuver, and a second group that sees itself as a service provider with little self-interest and wishes for more rules to strengthen their position towards scientists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Third Mission and Societal Impact)
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Open AccessArticle
Third Mission Activities at Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences: Results from an Expert Survey
Publications 2019, 7(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030057 - 26 Aug 2019
Abstract
This article looks at third mission activities as an integral part of universities of applied sciences (UAS) and sheds light on the wide portfolio of third stream initiatives at the Austrian applied higher education sector. In a pilot study, this research explores how [...] Read more.
This article looks at third mission activities as an integral part of universities of applied sciences (UAS) and sheds light on the wide portfolio of third stream initiatives at the Austrian applied higher education sector. In a pilot study, this research explores how the sector (consisting of 21 UAS) perceives its role as an enabler for prosperity, innovation and knowledge transfer in the local areas. In addition, we sought to identify the wide range of potential rationales behind regional engagement, attempted to differentiate between concepts that primarily target the traditional roles of universities (teaching and research) and seek to integrate third mission elements (Entrepreneurial University, Triple Helix, Mode 2) with an eye on economic gains and those that foreground additional responsibilities at the tertiary level for societal purposes. In this sense, we sought to carve out to what extent institutions also engage in third mission activities predominantly for non-economic reasons (Engaged University, Regional Innovation Systems, Sustainable University). Such a differentiation may have the potential to outline the paradigms for third mission activities in a more systematic and structured way. In addition, this analysis may allow Austrian UAS to make more informed decisions along the lines of third-stream initiatives that are based on their strategic positioning and profile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Third Mission and Societal Impact)
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Open AccessArticle
The Value of Scientific Knowledge Dissemination for Scientists—A Value Capture Perspective
Publications 2019, 7(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030054 - 24 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Scientific knowledge dissemination is necessary to collaboratively develop solutions to today’s challenges among scientific, public, and commercial actors. Building on this, recent concepts (e.g., Third Mission) discuss the role and value of different dissemination mechanisms for increasing societal impact. However, the value individual [...] Read more.
Scientific knowledge dissemination is necessary to collaboratively develop solutions to today’s challenges among scientific, public, and commercial actors. Building on this, recent concepts (e.g., Third Mission) discuss the role and value of different dissemination mechanisms for increasing societal impact. However, the value individual scientists receive in exchange for disseminating knowledge differs across these mechanisms, which, consequently, affects their selection. So far, value capture mechanisms have mainly been described as appropriating monetary rewards in exchange for scientists’ knowledge (e.g., patenting). However, most knowledge dissemination activities in science do not directly result in capturing monetary value (e.g., social engagement). By taking a value capture perspective, this article conceptualizes and explores how individual scientists capture value from disseminating their knowledge. Results from our qualitative study indicate that scientists’ value capture consists of a measureable objective part (e.g., career promotion) and a still unconsidered subjective part (e.g., social recognition), which is perceived as valuable due to scientists’ needs. By advancing our understanding of value capture in science, scientists’ selection of dissemination mechanisms can be incentivized to increase both the value captured by themselves and society. Hence, policy makers and university managers can contribute to overcoming institutional and ecosystem barriers and foster scientists’ engagement with society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Third Mission and Societal Impact)
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