NWO-I made a considerable contribution to the realisation of the first issue. Communication adviser Koosje Heurter from NCSR realised the final editing and Martijn van Calmthout, head of communication at Nikhef, wrote texts about neutrino detector KM3Net and a new gravitational theory. As a member of the editing team, communication adviser Melissa Vianen collected the input from the NWO Institutes (other editing team members provided content from the domains Science, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Applied and Engineering Sciences). Gaby van Caulil, team leader communication at the NWO-I office, was the editor-in-chief of this first issue. We posed several questions to him:
Why a new magazine?
‘The design of Hypothese was outdated and the communication management team, consisting of the team leaders from the NWO domains and NWO-I, wanted the magazine formula to fit the new organisation better. This also includes applied and practice-oriented research, nine NWO institutes and a strategic plan that assumes a strong connection between NWO and both science and society. NWO develops science policy in dialogue with the field and wants to show that in the new magazine. The editorial board identifies the developments and voices in the scientific field.’
How is the new organisation reflected in the magazine?
‘We have made two clear choices. For example, we let the field speak first, and then we let the voice of NWO be heard. That is an expression of the new Nexus role of NWO: listen first and speak second. Furthermore, in this magazine, you will see no new calls, agendas or the latest science news because there are other communication channels for these, such as the newsletter. We consider things in depth. Each issue of Onderzoek will address a science-wide theme. Examples are the denial of science in the climate issue, vaccinations and fake news or the role of chance, such as serendipity, freewill and chaotic systems.’
Why is assessment the theme of the first issue?
‘To be honest, it did not take us long to come up with this theme, assessing and rewarding science. In November 2018, NWO, VSNU, NFU and ZonMw promised to explore a new rewarding structure in 2019, in which not publications but quality, talent development and societal impact take centre stage. As a result, this year, NWO and ZonMw are redefining the value of science.’
You even consulted 2000 researchers.
‘That’s right. Much has been said and written about assessment and rewarding. We asked ourselves to what extent researchers are satisfied with the current system of counting publications and citations. On our behalf, a market research agency asked 2000 researchers for their opinion about assessing and rewarding. The response rate of 39 percent suggests that this subject strikes a chord. Interestingly, two-thirds of the researchers are neutral or positive about the current bibliometric system. That calls for considerable caution in the reorientation that is currently taking place. The results are listed in Onderzoek and will be presented on 23 May during the ZonMw/NWO conference about assessment.’
Is there still a place for a paper magazine in this digital age?
‘We asked ourselves that question within the Communication Management Team as well. However, a reader survey in 2017 revealed that Hypothese is widely read. The so-called average reach of Hypothese was 72 percent, and for a free relations magazine that is a very high reach. Furthermore, Onderzoek effectively replaces three magazines; during the transition of NWO FOM expres, the relations magazine of the FOM Foundation ceased to exist as equally Impact, the magazine of Technology Foundation STW.’
The first thing I notice: Onderzoek has a very different appearance from Hypothese.
‘Onderzoek has a large format – higher and wider than A4 – and also four flaps that jointly form the table of contents. The magazine has a single clear style and is formatted in the new house style of NWO. The design was developed by the progressive agency Studio Room (which also produces the popular women's magazine Linda.). ‘An interesting fact for magazine makers: we do not illustrate abstract themes with images that we happen to have but we nearly always illustrate these with artistic photography. For this, we have hired Van Santen & Bolleurs, a creative photography duo that also provides illustrations for the Dutch newspaper Het Parool and covers for the Dutch TV guide VPRO-gids. The photo budget has therefore increased somewhat, but rightly so, because it makes a real difference. It has become a magnificent, modern magazine. It’s in line with what NWO is and wants to be.’
On 24 May, Onderzoek will land on the doormats of 7000 subscribers. Curious? You can find the PDF here.
Newsletter Inside NWO-I, May 2019