By Claudine Anderson, Policy Manager for Public Engagement with Research, RCUK
Public engagement with research brings major benefits to UK society and economy. Engaging the public with research allows the public’s views to feed into research and future research directions, so that society can share in the benefits of that research. The cutting-edge research taking place within our world class research base is also key to inspiring the next generation of researchers and skilled people, vital to the future prosperity of the UK.
The major UK research funding bodies developed a Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research to provide an unambiguous signal regarding the importance of public engagement with research. The Concordat aims to provide guidance for those who receive funding to better value, recognise and support public engagement and has over 50 signatories and supporters.
In December 2013, it will be the third anniversary of the launch of the Concordat and to celebrate, RCUK, on behalf of the signatories, will be producing a new publication to outline the Concordat principles supported with case studies, which showcase excellent examples of public engagement and supporting culture change within institutions.
To do this, we’re looking for contributions of stories which highlight the benefits and impact of public engagement to institutions, researchers and their research. These could include: skills development, career enhancement, enhancing research quality and its impact, new research perspectives, higher profile for researchers and their institutions, influence and networking opportunities, forming new collaborations and partnerships, enjoyment and personal reward, additional funding, increasing awareness of the value of research to UK society, increasing student recruitment and inspiring the next generation of researchers. RCUK’s booklet What’s in it for me? has some great case studies on these themes which could be useful for guidance.
We’re also looking for case studies that illustrate the principles of the Concordat. The Concordat lists the full scope of the aims under the principles, but some key examples are given below:
1. UK research organisations have a strategic commitment to public engagement
E.g. A definition of public engagement which is shared and used across the organisation, how organisations have embedded public engagement within their missions, key strategies and organisation plans and its effective communication, creation of senior public engagement champions, etc
2. Researchers are recognised and valued for their involvement with public engagement activities
E.g. The benefits to researchers are appropriately recognised and promoted, public engagement is recognised in staff policies and processes, briefing and support is given to those responsible for implementing these processes, success in public engagement is celebrated and communicated, etc.
3. Researchers are enabled to participate in public engagement activities through appropriate, training support and opportunities.
E.g. Recognition that attributes required for public engagement are skills, behaviours and qualities which researchers should be aspiring towards in their professional development, provision of training and development opportunities, pro-active encouragement for researchers to develop their engagement practice at all levels, facilitation of opportunities for public engagement, provision of practical support, coordination of public engagement across the organisation to enable the sharing of best practice, etc.
4. The signatories and supporters of the Concordat will undertake regular reviews of their and the wider research sector’s progress in fostering public engagement across the UK
E.g. Highlights of the work that the funders are doing to embed the Concordat within their organisations. e.g. monitoring and evaluating public engagement, regular reviews of progress against the Concordat principles, working with other funders to develop and share good practice in public engagement, adding them to grant terms and conditions, etc.
Your example doesn’t need to tick all of the criteria so if your case study focuses on just one of the above, we’d still like to hear your story.
To submit a case study, please highlight evidence and details of outcomes to support your examples in around 500 words or less. Inclusion of an image to support your story would be appreciated. Please remember to include your contact details on the email as if we use your story, we will contact you to check that you are happy with the wording before publication. Please send your case study to Claudine Anderson by Friday 16 August 2013.