Open science at the science–policy interface: bringing in the evidence?

Stefan Egon Reichmann*, Bernhard Wieser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Part of the current enthusiasm about open science stems from its promises to reform scientific practice in service of the common good, to ensure that scientific outputs will be found and reused more easily, and to enhance scientific impact on policy and society. With this article, we question this optimism by analysing the potential for open science practices to enhance research uptake at the science–policy interface. Science advice is critical to help policy-makers make informed decisions. Likewise, some interpretations of open science hold that making research processes and outputs more transparent and accessible will also enhance the uptake of results by policy and society at large. However, we argue that this hope is based on an unjustifiably simplistic understanding of the science–policy interface that leaves key terms (“impact”, “uptake”) undefined. We show that this understanding—based upon linear models of research uptake—likewise grounds the influential “evidence–policy gap” diagnosis which holds that to improve research uptake, communication and interaction between researchers and policy-makers need to be improved. The overall normative stance of both discussions has sidelined empirical description of the science–policy interface, ignoring questions about the underlying differences between the policy domain and academia. Importantly, both open science and literature on closing the evidence–policy gap recommend improving communication (in terms of either the content or the means) as a viable strategy. To correct some of these views, we combine insights from policy theory with a narrative review of the literature on the evidence–policy gap in the health domain and find that removing barriers to access by itself will not be enough to foster research uptake.
Original languageEnglish
Article number70
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Evidence–policy gap
  • Open science
  • Policy theory
  • Research uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology
  • Information, Communication & Computing

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)

Cite this