Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research
Professor Alison Woollard, Department of Biochemistry and Fellow of Hertford College, has been appointed as the next Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research at the University of Oxford.
Professor Woollard will provide academic leadership for the implementation of the University’s Public Engagement with Research strategic plan that was approved by the University’s Research Committee in May 2016. The vision is to embed high-quality and innovative public engagement as an integral part of research culture and practice at Oxford, enhancing our position as a world-leading research institution.
On her appointment, Professor Alison Woollard said:
“It is a fantastic time to become Academic Champion. The University is clearly committed to raising the profile of Public Engagement with Research through its Strategic Plan and there could not be a more important time for this”.
Professor Woollard will work alongside Professor Ian Walmsley, who as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation is responsible for public engagement, and with a network of academic ambassadors from across the University.
Professor Woollard succeeds Professor Sarah Whatmore, who has been appointed as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Oxford.
Public Engagement with Research Strategic Plan
The University of Oxford's Public Engagement with Research Strategic Plan was launched on 12 December 2016. The purpose of the Plan is two-fold:
- to frame an ambitious vision for Public Engagement with Research at Oxford;
- to identify the key steps towards it that will be undertaken in the next three years and against which to measure progress.
Oxford’s vision is to embed high-quality and innovative public engagement as an integral part of research culture and practice, enhancing its position as a world-leading research institution. A key focus of the Plan is to equip academics and researchers across the institution to develop and deliver high-quality Public Engagement with Research activities and to foster a culture in which they are recognised for their accomplishments. This will be achieved by:
◦ building this activity into the planning and resourcing of new research projects;
◦ facilitating opportunities for collaboration, in particular between researchers and the University’s museums, gardens, libraries and collections;
◦ providing researchers with support and training and
◦ publicising and celebrating examples of best practice both within the University and externally.
Professor Sarah Whatmore, University Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research (2015 - 2017) said “We were able to build on a strong constituency of practitioners and enthusiasts at Oxford to develop this Public Engagement with Research Strategy, which provides a more systematic approach to enable newcomers to this agenda to participate, but also supports those who are long experienced in public engagement to do their work even more effectively and with greater impact.”
Introduction to Public Engagement with Research Training
Details of the up and coming Introduction to Public Engagement with Research courses provided by Oxford Sparks and the Divisions are listed below. This course is available to academics, researchers and staff from all Divisions and Departments across the University:
- Introduction to Public Engagement with Research (9 May 2017); book online here.
The Conversation Training
The Conversation is an online source of thought-provoking articles written by researchers and academics for the public in the UK and globally. Oxford is a member of The Conversation and receives regular opportunities for researchers to contribute articles and to take part in hands-on training to enhance writing and engagement skills:
Details on training for researchers from the Science Divisions is here.
Details on training for researchers from the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions is here.
Training within Divisions
Other training relevant to Public Engagement with Research within Divisions is as follows:
- Social media for impact
- Public engagement summer school
- Using social media to communicate your research
- Three Minute Thesis (3MT)
- Public speaking workshop
Social Sciences (link)
- Introduction to communicating your research and working with the media
- Engaging media communications for academics
- Knowledge Exchange discovery programme
- Making a difference: exploring Knowledge Exchange and impact for social scientists
- Digital Storytelling for social scientists
Departments and Groups
The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities - TORCH (link)
- Offers training courses, seminars and experiential learning in public engagement
IT Services (link)
Organise an annual series called #OxEngage, with courses targeted at training in digital media for communication, podcasting and social media. For a full list of courses, see the IT Learning Programme (ITLP) website. The library of self-study online courses hosted by Lynda.com is accessed for free by University staff using the 'Single-Sign-On' (SSO) on the the IT website.
Early Career Academic Outreach Network (link)
- Public engagement training
External training opportunities
Public engagement training is also offered by various external agencies, including funders and professional bodies. Below is a link to regular courses that may be accessible to researchers at the University of Oxford.
Note that some courses are only available to individuals supported by those agencies and some training courses may incur course fees.
- Introduction to public engagement
- Public engagement in practice
- Meet the scientists
- Communication and media skills
- Writing about your research
- Engaging with schools
For other external training available, visit the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) website.
Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund
The University of Oxford's small grants scheme supports researchers to develop or pilot new Public Engagement with Research projects; improve existing Public Engagement with Research activity; evaluate ongoing Public Engagement with Research activities or gather evidence to demonstrate impact.
A list of the funded projects for 2016-17 is provided here:
Research Council/ Wellcome Trust funding
Pathways to Impact
All the UK Research Councils require researchers to consider the future impact of research at the point of applying for funding and public engagement is a recognised route to impact. The scheme is called Pathways to Impact, and more information can be found on the Research Councils UK (RCUK) website.
The Wellcome Trust expects their grant-holders to engage the public with their research and as such provides support and funding for this activity as part of research grants. Furthermore, various Wellcome Trust funding schemes designed specifically for public engagement can be applied for directly.
Other funding opportunities
For other external funding opportunities, visit the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) website.
There are numerous toolkits and resources available for Public Engagement with Research, including guidance on planning, executing, and evaluating activities:
Public Engagement with Research
- Engaging the public in science toolkit (Ipsos MORI)
- Communicating with the Public (BBSRC)
- Public engagement training handbook (BBSRC)
- A guide to successful communications and communicating science: A scientist’s survival kit (European Commission)
- Vitae.ac.uk – Engaged Researcher Info guide
- Researcher’s guide engagement (Heritage Afterlife)
- Engaging the public with your research (NERC)
- Dialogue with the public: Practical guidelines (RCUK)
- Inspiration to engage - Concordat for engaging the public with research (RCUK)
- What's in it for me? The benefits of public engagement for researchers (RCUK)
- The road ahead: Public dialogue on science and technology (Sciencewise)
- Community Planning Toolkit (Community Places)
- Factors affecting public engagement by researchers (Wellcome Trust)
- Community engagement: Improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities (NICE)
- Engaging the public with engineering - A Practical Guide (British Science Association & RAE)
- A guide to good practice in public engagement with physics (IOP)
- Going Public: An introduction to communicating science, engineering & technology (Communicating Astronomy)
- The impact of social sciences blog (LSE)
Citizen science / public involvement
- A guide to citizen science (UK Environmental Observation Framework)
- People & participation - How to put citizens at the heart of decision-making (Involve)
- Community-university participatory research partnerships: Co-inquiry and related approaches (Durham)
- Patient & public involvement guidance (NIHR)
Working with young people
- Outreach: A guide to Working with Schools & Colleges (HE Academy)
- Engaging Young People with Cutting Edge Research (RCUK)
- Evaluation: Practical Guidelines (BIS / RCUK)
- So did it work? Evaluating public understanding of science events (Communicating Astronomy)
- Evaluation: Practical Guidelines (RCUK)
- A guide for successfully evaluating science engagement events (Wellcome Trust)
- Making a Difference: A guide to evaluating public participation in central government (DCA)
- A guide to evaluating your Ingenious project (RAE)
- Evaluating Science and Society Initiatives: A Framework for Evaluation (ESRC)
- A guide to evaluating arts education projects (Arts Council)
- Guidance for artists and arts organisations on assessing the quality of activities provided for children and young people (Arts Council)
- Evaluation toolkit for the voluntary and community arts in Northern Ireland (Arts Council of Northern Ireland)
- Evaluating participation work: The guide (Participation Works)
- Evaluating participation work: The toolkit (Participation Works)
- Evaluation Handbook (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)
- Evaluation methodology (APSRC)
- Public Engagement Evaluation Guide (University of Manchester)
- First Steps in Monitoring and Evaluation (Charities Evaluation Services)
- Impact Toolkit (ESRC)
- Briefing Paper: Auditing, Benchmarking and Evaluating Public Engagement (NCCPE)
REF & impact
- Research Impact Toolkit (online) (ESRC)
- Update on Public Engagement and the REF (NCCPE)
- Discussion Paper: Assessing impacts arising from public engagement with research (NCCPE)
- After the REF - Taking Stock: summary of feedback (NCCPE)
Working with the media
- Why engage with the media? (Science Media Centre)
- Top tips for Media Work - A guide for Scientists (Science Media Centre)
- Working with the Media: A guide to best practice (ESRC)
- Practical guides to science communication (SciDevNet)
- Social Science and Media Wiki
- Guide to working with the media (Wellcome Trust)
- Going Public - An introduction to communicating STEM (Office of Science & Technology)
- Media Training Handbook (BBSRC)
- Engaging young people with cutting edge research: A guide for researchers and teachers (RCUK)
- Scientists and the Media (Royal Society)