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Published January 12, 2022 | Version preprint-v1
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Meaningful public engagement in the context of open science: reflections of early and mid-career academics


What is public engagement, what is needed for successful public engagement and how can public engagement be perceived as part of open science? This commentary highlights reflections on these questions from 15 public engagement fellows in Utrecht University's Open Science Programme. With a goal of finding common ground intended as input for further discussion and policymaking within the university and beyond, these reflections are based on an analysis of twelve expert interviews conducted among and by the public engagement fellows. We identify three key conditions for meaningful public engagement in the context of open science: 1) room for diversity in (organizational) support and in rationales for the pathways towards meaningful societal impact; 2) a broad conceptualization of open science, offering a foundation for the structural integration of public engagement in academic work; and 3) the need for a continuous dialogue amongst academics, support staff, and management on public engagement and the conditions necessary to facilitate public engagement. Our findings suggest that in order to make public engagement an integral part of open science, universities should invest in institutional support, create awareness, and stimulate dialogue amongst staff members on how to 'do' good public engagement.



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