National Platform for Applied Sciences: Increasing the visibility of applied sciences together

Applied Sciences generate valuable knowledge and products for use in professional practice and education. Increasing the visibility of all this information would allow the knowledge and products to reach even more people than they do now. We are developing the National Platform for Applied Sciences to help make this possible.

Onderzoekers in bibliotheek

Applied research findable and accessible

Universities of applied sciences perform a great deal of applied scientific research. This contributes to educational reform and innovation by corporations and civil society. The results of this research can take various forms. In addition to articles, applied science can produce prototypes, protocols, models and instructional materials. We want to make all of these results more easily findable and more accessible to a wider audience.

Applied sciences in particular are extremely valuable to education and society, and must therefore be readily accessible.

Goal: a web of research information

Our goal is to make it easy for researchers and professors to share information and knowledge about Dutch applied research on this central national platform. This way, we will make this material available to fellow professionals at other universities of applied sciences, but also to a wider audience, such as journalists and anyone interested in this subject. This information and knowledge should then also be easily shared on other existing platforms. Within this innovation project, we are therefore developing a national platform with various functionalities and applications to create an insightful and open web of research information.  This will contribute to the goal of open science, to which all universities of applied sciences have expressed their commitment.

Associate professors, lecturer-researchers, research support staff, ICT and policy makers collaborate in this project to increase the visibility of applied sciences.

From blueprint to mock-up

During the first phase of this project we interviewed researchers, professors and other end-users about their wishes, ideas, experiences and suggestions for the national platform. Meanwhile, we have prepared a blueprint for this platform, including a proposal on to translate these wishes into a functional design. Together, both the project team and working groups with many representatives from universities of applied sciences, are now taking the next steps to realise this platform. We will start building the platform and future users will test the tool: professors, teachers, researchers, journalists and others.

Researchers are the suppliers, users and ambassadors of research results, and therefore important end users in the context of this project.

Universities of applied sciences improve access to research

Twelve universities of applied sciences take part in this project, led by AUAS (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), along with the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (NAUAS), Taskforce for Applied Research SIA, SURF and HKI (HBO Knowledge Infrastructure). The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and runs from 2019 to 2022. In 2018 NAUAS, SIA, HKI and SURF published a report about opportunities for improved visibility through communal changes in the infrastructure. This inspired the launch of the National Platform for Applied Sciences project.

Frequently asked questions

Below you will find the frequently asked questions about the project. Is your question not here? Then please contact one of the project leaders, John Doove or Eva Woertman.

Which colleges are participating?
  • ArtEZ 
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences 
  • Codarts 
  • Haagse Hogeschool 
  • Hanzehogeschool Groningen 
  • Hogeschool van Amsterdam (penvoerder) 
  • Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen  
  • Hogeschool der Kunsten Utrecht 
  • Hogeschool Utrecht 
  • Saxion 
  • Van Hall Larenstein 
  • Zuyd Hogeschool  

These are the universities of applied sciences that have delegated a director to the Strategic Council, which fulfills the role of commissioner for this project. 

In addition, almost all the other universities of applied sciences are involved in the project in one way or another, for example, because staff members participate in one of the four working groups or have been interviewed for the purpose of designing the platform. These include the following universities of applied sciences: 

  • Aeres Hogeschool 
  • Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten 
  • ArtEZ University of the Arts 
  • Avans Hogeschool 
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences 
  • Christelijke Hogeschool Ede 
  • Codarts Rotterdam 
  • De Haagse Hogeschool 
  • Design Academy Eindhoven 
  • Driestar Hogeschool 
  • Fontys Hogescholen 
  • Gerrit Rietveld Academie 
  • Hanzehogeschool Groningen 
  • HAS Hogeschool 
  • Hogeschool de Kempel 
  • Hogeschool der Kunsten Den Haag 
  • Hogeschool Inholland 
  • Hogeschool iPabo 
  • Hogeschool Leiden 
  • Hogeschool Rotterdam 
  • Hogeschool Utrecht 
  • Hogeschool van Amsterdam 
  • Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen 
  • Hogeschool Viaa 
  • Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht 
  • Hogeschool Windesheim 
  • Hotelschool The Hague 
  • HZ University of Applied Sciences 
  • Iselinge Hogeschool 
  • Katholieke Pabo Zwolle 
  • Marnix Academie 
  • NHL Stenden Hogeschool 
  • Saxion Hogeschool 
  • Thomas More Hogeschool 
  • Van Hall Larenstein 
  • Zuyd Hogeschool 
What is the schedule, when can we expect the platform?

By March 2021, the design of the platform will have been delivered in outline form. In May 2021, the Proof of Concept (POC) of one link and a mock-up of part of the technology behind the platform will follow. The schedule for delivery of the entire project is mid-2022.

How is this project funded?

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is making a total of 900,000 euros available. SURF is contributing EUR 200,000. Various universities of applied sciences are contributing manpower and expertise, for example by having staff members participate in pilots or working groups.

How can I participate in this project as a college or as an individual working in college?

You can participate as an individual in several ways: 

  • Sign up for one of the working groups around Metadata, Privacy, Communications and Governance. 
  • Make yourself available for one of the testing of the designs, now or in a future phase.  
  • Do you have a good idea, knowledge of certain source systems, experience in editorial work or some other expertise you think we should really use? We are always open to consultation! 

It is also possible for a university of applied sciences to participate in this project, in consultation with the Open Science Advisory Board.  
 
Contact Eva Woertman (eva.woertman@surf.nl) about participating. 

What is the target audience for the platform?

The platform will be accessible to anyone with an interest in and knowledge from practice-based research. A number of target groups will be actively involved and served: 

  • Lecturers and other researchers 
  • Educators
  • Professionals from the professional field 
  • Media
In what ways are researchers involved in this process?

We spoke with 20 - 25 researchers in the first phase of this project, both professors and teacher-researchers, from over 10 different colleges. These interviews, workshops and group discussions have formed the basis for the next phase plan. 

In the current phase, 32 people have been interviewed so far, 8 of whom are researchers. At this time, additional interviews with researchers are planned for the coming weeks.  

The project team involves researchers in the following ways: 

  • A lecturer participates in the steering committee to represent the perspective of researchers there; 
  • two researchers participate in the ThinkTank; 
  • a lecturer was involved in the tendering of the building party;  
  • a lecturer and a researcher were involved in the tendering of the UX design party;  
  • a lector participates in both the Communications and Governance working groups. 
How will target groups other than researchers be involved in the project?

In all phases, teachers and professionals also spoke in interviews. The design of the platform is iterative, and after each iteration the design is discussed with various people from the different groups.  
 
The Think Tank, the independent advisory board for this project, will also include perspectives from educators, journalists, and communications consultants.  
 
In March-April 2021 an extensive test round will be held, during which design, functionalities and content developed by an editorial team will be evaluated and tested. This will be done not only with researchers, but also with people from the media, professional practice and higher education.  

How are the links established? Which systems are used as source files?

In cooperation with the working group Metadata and Mark de Jong (in the position of NPPO ICT architect) we will choose standards for linking systems. For each system will be determined what information may be exchanged. We will provide the necessary flexibility in the platform. 

At the moment we have "in scope" to link with source systems based on SURFsharekit, PURE, Metis and the RIS system of Saxion. Linking with other systems based on one of the offered links is of course possible. 
There are also ambitions to link with other systems where information from the platform can be used, or where additional information can be retrieved. 

If you post content on the platform, where is that content located? At SURF in a cloud environment or at the knowledge institution itself?

The goal is to have the platform operate on a metadata basis whenever possible. Content related to the research will be in the source system and will be referenced. Where possible, we will show it in the platform though. Content that is used to enrich the metadata (for example, an interesting photo that is not in the source system) can be stored on the platform. Storage will then be the responsibility of the platform administrator, and that organisational form is still being determined in this project.

How do we ensure that researchers only need to keep track of their data in one place?

One of the basic principles for the platform is the "create once, publish everywhere" principle. Where possible, we will apply this principle, for example by linking up as much as possible with exchange standards and retrieving as much existing information as possible, for example from universities of applied sciences. To what extent this will succeed and how exactly we will give it shape is still part of the research, and naturally also depends on the possibilities and conditions offered by the source systems of the universities of applied sciences.

Is there a link between this platform and the digital competence center (dcc)?

Both this project and the dcc fall under the open science program of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH). This program was created because much is happening in the area of open research in higher education. This requires, among other things, the necessary research support. To ensure that support for open research is properly organised, it must also be given administrative attention, and a joint programme can help in this regard. 
 
The results that the Metadata Working Group produces for the platform are also useful for the dcc. Conversely, the dcc's infrastructure working group is again useful for the platform. So there is not so much overlap, but they are complementary. There is good communication between the two projects. 

How much overlap is there with other platforms such as Researchgate and how much need do users have for "one more platform"?

Indeed, there are already several organisations and platforms that have been working on making research available for some time. This project was started because it was identified that despite the existing initiatives, the necessary visibility and availability of practice-based research was lacking on a national level. In this context, "national" means transcending colleges and disciplines.  
In order to properly monitor whether this signal was correct, we conducted a preliminary survey among researchers and their contacts in the field before the start of the project. This underlined the need to improve the current knowledge infrastructure: the conclusions are in a report.  
In the subsequent stages of the project, we will also enter into detailed discussions with various (prospective) users about what the platform needs to offer in order to provide real added value to existing platforms and initiatives.  
 
It remains a fact that researchers already have to or can provide information in many places. An important part of the design of the platform are therefore the links to social media, for example, and the links that ensure that as much as possible of the information already registered can be reused on this platform. 

The success of the platform is partly determined by the supply of participating colleges. Are there or will there be initiatives, in addition to the development of the platform, to bring the quality of research registration of colleges to a good level?

An exploration of the needs in dealing with research information in higher education has recently been conducted. By research information is meant everything that describes research, such as data on individuals, funding, results, etc. In the academic sector and in a few cases in the higher professional education sector, so-called current research information systems (CRIS), such as PURE from Elsevier, are used to register this data. There are quite a few differences between the universities of applied sciences and research universities, for example in the form of research results or the extent of the research. Different universities of applied sciences will therefore have different ways of dealing with research information. A report has been published on this subject which offers guidelines for dealing with research information.