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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:

Human and Animal health, welfare and wellbeing

Technology for dogs with important jobs

Our research has developed canine-centred controls which have improved how dogs support people with disabilities.

Improving treatment for prostate cancer

Our research has provided guidelines which have improved the quality of life for those affected by prostate cancer.

Promoting action for autistic people

Our research has helped to challenge common stereotypes of autism and promote action for autistic people worldwide.

Reducing abortion stigma

Our research is challenging stigma surrounding abortion and improving related care.

Creativity, culture, learning and participation

Enabling community leadership in design and placemaking

Our research in design is facilitating social innovations to transform neglected buildings into community-focused assets.

Using religious history to promote social cohesion

Our research has alerted key decision makers to the importance of historically informed religious literacy as a means of avoiding potential conflict.

Using keyword signing for more inclusive teaching in Indonesian classrooms

We have introduced keyword signing into classrooms in Indonesia, enabling children with special educational needs to participate.

Improving student retention

Our research has produced software which can reduce student drop-out rates.

Enhanced, ethical performance and professional practice

Solving global challenges through open access

We host the world’s largest collection of open access full texts which facilitates free and easy access to research knowledge.

Reading for pleasure: changing professional practice

Our research is having a positive impact on children’s reading for pleasure and changing teachers’ professional practice

Transforming English language teaching in Bangladesh

We have transformed the way English is taught in schools in Bangladesh, improving the lives of more than six million children.

Policy and law

Revealing the dangers of hands-free phone use

Our research is informing policy on the need to reconsider current mobile phone legislation.


Transforming attitudes about the health of our oceans

Our research raised issues of ocean health into the public consciousness through informing Blue Planet II.