Support for researchers | University of Oxford
Image of Professor Alison Woollard: the University of Oxford's Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research
Image of Professor Alison Woollard: University of Oxford's Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research (Credit: Paul Wilkinson)

Support for researchers

Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund

This University of Oxford small grants scheme provides funds for researchers to develop, deliver and evaluate Public Engagement with Research projects and activities.

Applications are welcome those new to or experienced in Public Engagement with Research. Funds (typically £2k to £4k) can be requested to pilot a new project or enhance an existing activity.

How to apply

Applications can be submitted at any time (on a rolling deadline) until 5pm on Thursday 5 December 2019, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applications are submitted through IRAMS.

The Guidelines are available here:

The Case for Support form is available here:

Previous projects

Summaries of the 2018-19 funded projects are available here: PER Seed Fund Projects 2018-19.pdf

Project summaries from the Final Reports of the 2016-17 projects are here, including lessons learnt: PER Seed Fund Final Project Report Summaries 2016-17.pdf

Any queries? Please email publicengagement@admin.ox.ac.uk

Enriching Engagement Grants Scheme

Enriching Engagement is a new pilot Wellcome-funded grants programme open to Wellcome grant holders and awardees at the University of Oxford, to develop and deliver Public Engagement with Research projects.

This pilot will offer a new way of encouraging, supporting and awarding Wellcome Public Engagement Enrichment grants.

Two levels of funding will be available: £10k - £30k and £50k - £100k.

This is a grants scheme with a difference:

  • no lengthy written applications required - just great ideas and effective project planning
  • workshops and one-to-one surgeries to inspire and shape your thinking (including those new to public engagement)
  • no written reviews and closed panels - all applicants will be invited to discuss their proposal directly with the funding committee members.

Pre-application support programme

 1:1 mentoring is available from the Medical Sciences Division Public Engagement team (for all Wellcome-funded researchers across all disciplines) to help you put in the strongest application possible. 

How to apply

Closing date, 5pm, Friday 20th September 2019. Applications are submitted through IRAMS.

The Guidelines are available here: Enriching Engagement Guidelines.pdf

The Case for Support form is available here:

Research Council

Public Engagement with Research (PER) activities can be included and resourced as part of Research Council grant applications via the following mechanisms:

  • the Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact section
  • the case for support where public engagement forms part of the research process
  • as a work package of a larger grant, such as a programme grant

Guidance for applying for PER activities through Pathways to Impacts can be found here.

The guidance includes what information to provide in your Pathways to Impact section; a list of example PER costings; FAQs and a PER planning template.

Wellcome Trust

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.

Evaluation Training

Training is provided throughout the year to support researchers, DPhil students and professional services staff for evaluation of Public Engagement with Research (PER) and gathering evidence of impact. Find out about current opportunities on the Evaluation support tab.

Public Engagement with Research Training

Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division and the Medical Sciences Division

Training courses offered throughout the year for researchers and DPhil students:

  • Introduction to Public Engagement
  • Communicating your research through story
  • Podcast your science
  • Beyond communication: effective two-way engagement
  • Developing interactive activities for festivals
  • The Conversation

For further information and to book: booking page

Humanities Division and Social Sciences Division

Links to training provided by these Divisions are provided below, including course relevant to Public Engagement with Research: 

Humanities (link):

  • Public engagement summer school
  • The Conversation

 Social Sciences (link):

  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Impact
  • The Conversation

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities - TORCH (link)

  • Offers training courses, seminars and experiential learning in public engagement

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.

Royal Society

Wellcome Trust

 For other external training available, visit the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) website.

The Forum

The Forum is a termly series of events for Oxford's research community to explore and debate Public Engagement with Research practice and policy and provide opportunities for sharing learning and networking.

When will the next Forum take place?

The Forum will occur once a term at different times (to help accommodate staff with differing work/life circumstances), try out different formats (debates, workshops etc) and discuss a range of topics.

If you would like to keep up to date with news of the next Forum, you can sign up the PER Digest, a monthly email newsletter with PER updates and opportunities. To subscribe please email publicengagement@admin.ox.ac.uk with "Start PER Digest" in the subject line.

We would welcome ideas and suggestions for future PER Forum topics; please do let us know via the same email as above. 

Previous PER Forums

PER FORUM: Develop your Impact Case Study for REF 2021 – Public Engagement - 06 June 2019

This session was for members of Oxford’s research community to build, develop or enhance their potential REF 2021 Impact Case Study with respect to Public Engagement.

Evaluating Public Engagement with Research: why, how and when to evaluate?

The second PER Forum took place on the 5th March 2019 and explored why we should evaluate PER, how to evaluate the impact and outcomes of PER, how to ensure evaluation is relevant and engaing for different audience groups and what best practice evaluation looked like.

Early Career Researchers: when to get engaged?

The first PER Forum took place on the 12th December 2018 and explored the place of public engagement as an Early Career Researcher. The event brought together a panel of academics experienced in PER to explore; what are the pros and cons for ECRs undertaking PER and how can we improve research culture to enable ECRs to pursue their public engagement aspirations.

See here for more opportunities and support for ECRs in PER.

Evaluation

Support for researchers, DPhil students and professional services staff for evaluation of Public Engagement with Research (PER) and gathering evidence of impact.

Introduction to: Evaluating PER

Evaluation is a process to collect evidence, learn from your experiences and can provide you with evidence of outcomes and different types of impact arising from Public Engagement with Research.

If you are new to evaluation, join us at this introductory seminar for:

  • An overview of evaluation
  • Top tips and advice on how to get started with planning an evaluation 
  • Examples of evaluation tools

This seminar is for Researchers; Public Engagement Facilitators; Impact Officers; Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) staff; who are new to evaluation.

Tuesday 15 October, 14.00-15.15, Oxford Big Data Institute (Old Road Campus)

 To book your place at the workshop, please complete this registration form by 11 October.

Previous Evaluation Training

Breakfast Evaluation Club

The Breakfast Evaluation Club was an informal drop-in to discuss all things PER evaluation. The drop-ins took place in May and July 2019 and provided advice on how to get started on evaluating a specific project; feedback on evaluation plans; and an opportunity to discuss evaluation challenges over a cuppa and croissant.

Workshop: Evaluating Tabletop Displays

This half-day workshop took place on 19 June 2019, and explored a range of creative tools for evaluating pop-up displays and exhibitions. The workshop provided practical examples of previous evaluations; and guidance on how to plan an evaluation for tabletop displays.

If you have any questions about evaluation training, please contact: Annaleise Depper (PER Evaluation Officer) annaleise.depper@admin.ox.ac.uk

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.”

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 Patrick Grant, who as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research is responsible for public engagement, and with a network of academic ambassadors from across the University.

There are numerous toolkits and resources available for Public Engagement with Research, including guidance on planning, executing, and evaluating activities: 

Public Engagement with Research

Citizen science / public involvement

Working with young people

 Festivals

 Evaluation

 REF & impact

Working with the media