Support for engaged 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 engaged researchers

The Forum

The Forum is a new 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. Details of the first event are provided below:

Early Career Researchers: when to get engaged?
Oxford Union, Wednesday 12th December 2018

Many benefits have been demonstrated for researchers undertaking Public Engagement with Research (PER). Furthermore it can provide the opportunity to develop new skills, which can be particularly beneficial for those early in their career whichever future path is chosen.

But when time is split across so many priorities and duties, should ECRs aim to do public engagement? If so - why and how do you build public engagement into your academic career? How do you to decide what to do and what not to do? In what ways can we improve research culture to enable ECRs to pursue their public engagement aspirations? Or should the focus for those in the earlier stages of their career be the pursuit of publications until they are better established - the engagement part can come later?


To book your place at the Forum, please complete this registration form.

The line-up

ChairMark MiodownikProfessor of Materials & SocietyUniversity College London
SpeakersAbigail WilliamsProfessor of English LiteratureUniversity of Oxford
 Richard WatermeyerReader in EducationUniversity of Bath
 Chris LintottProfessor of Astrophysics & Citizen Science LeadUniversity of Oxford
HostAlison WoollardAcademic Champion for PERUniversity of Oxford

Timings and Format

3.40 - 4.00pm: Registration & refreshments

4.00 - 4.45pm: Introduction & Panel deliberations

4.45 - 5.20pm: Facilitated small group discussions & feedback

5.20 - 6.00pm: Panel discussion with Q&A

6.00 - 7.00pm: Networking & refreshments

Cabaret style with up to 50 attendees to enable in-depth discussions.

Who should attend?

Early Career Researchers; PIs and other research and professional services staff that support ECRs and their career development; PER Facilitators that support ECRs.

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 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 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. 

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. The call for applications is now open and will close on Monday, 15 October 2018.

Further information is provided here: PER Seed Fund Guidelines 2018-19 FINAL.pdf

To make an application, please apply through the Internal Research Awards Management System, IRAMS: click on the link to "Engagement: Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund", where you will find the Online Application Form and the Case for Support template (Word.doc).

Information for applicants on how to use IRAMS can be found on the Research Support website.

You can view the summaries of the funded projects from the previous round here: PER Seed Fund Project Summaries 17_18.pdf

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

Any queries? Please email

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.

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

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 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.


Royal Society

Wellcome Trust

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

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 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.

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



 REF & impact

Working with the media