Blank spots in Dutch research

Investigating potential ‘blank spots’ in Dutch research.

The study addresses two main questions:

  • Will the policy of having universities focus on specific research areas lead to blank spots in Dutch research? In other words, will disciplines disappear or be weakened in a way that is undesirable from a national or international perspective?
  • How is the top economic sectors policy affecting the scope for unfettered basic research, in particular in the humanities and social sciences?


The former State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science submitted the request. He was concerned about the potential negative impact on unfettered basic research of the government’s policy promoting the Netherlands’ top economic sectors and research focus areas.

Target group

  • Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
  • The scientific community of the Netherlands
  • Researchers and administrators

Nature of the advisory document

A final report was published in July 2015. The initial advisory report was issued in early 2013 (Effecten van universitaire profilering en topsectorenbeleid op de wetenschap in Nederland).

Three categories of data are being collected:

  • Two surveys, one among deans, another among Academy members and members of The Young Academy
  • Through the Academy advisory councils
  • A study of the top economic sectors policy of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

These three categories provide the basis for the final report.


The final report (with English summary) (pdf) was published in July 2015.