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Open University research is designed to be open and to influence policy and practice and change lives for the better.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) shows that research undertaken at The Open University is both world-leading and has an impact in the real world.

We maximise our impact through major collaborations with external organisations ranging from public bodies to third-sector to business, benefiting the economy, society and cultural life. Some examples of our impact, across a range of areas, are set out below:

  1. Citizenship and Governance
  2. STEM and Environment
  3. Health and Wellbeing
  4. Heritage and Culture
  5. International Development and Inclusive Innovation

Citizenship & Governance

Influencing UK policy on sexuality and relationships

Research enhancing our understanding of sexuality and intimate lives, has had a direct impact on policy and practice concerning personal relationships in the UK.

Changing perceptions of street markets

Our research has led to traditional street markets being recognised by national and local government and challenged the prevailing view that their decline is inevitable.

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STEM & Environment

Understanding the effects of human interference with our wetlands

Open University research has revealed that wetlands emit methane, which has an affect on climate change.

Mitigating the effects of volcanoes worldwide

Our research is providing new insights into the process occurring beneath persistently active volcanoes and reducing public hazards, through increased monitoring by local citizen scientists.

Designing for sustainable growth

The OU’s Design Group is influencing the development of a range of low-energy, low-carbon systems for domestic and transport use.

Communicating polar science

Research into polar science reached millions of people through the prime time TV programme Frozen Planet and provided a focal point that changed the debate on polar climate change.

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Health & Wellbeing

Using statistics to safeguard public health

Novel statistical methods developed by our researchers have increased our ability to assess the safety of vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs, and improve the quality of health-related policy decisions.

Developing age-friendly kitchens

Our researchers are working with design and manufacturing teams to build more user-friendly kitchens that will make it easier for people to remain in their own homes as they age.

Using insights from the past to improve patient health

Our researchers are delving into the Greek and Roman past to help modern medical practitioners to understand their patients’ needs.

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Heritage & Culture

Chronicling our long love affair with books

Our researchers have created the largest single resource capturing the choices, habits and opinions of readers across the British Isles over the past 500 years.

The early South Asian contribution to British society

Our research challenges the perception that multicultural Britain is a recent phenomenon and highlights how South Asians have contributed to British society for more than 100 years.

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International Development & Inclusive Innovation

Helping Africa to thrive in a changing global economy

Our researchers are working with African partners on public and private sector projects to meet the challenges presented by shifts in the global balance of power.

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