Picture of a Fern
Picture of a Fern

PCER fund

  1. A refreshed PCER Fund
  2. Key dates and figures
  3. Community voices in decision-making
  4. 2023 review of PCER Seed Fund

1. A refreshed PCER Fund

The Public and Community Engagement with Research (PCER) Team is pleased to announce that the PCER Fund will be opening in September 2024. The PCER Fund replaces the PCER Seed Fund and has been informed by a thorough evaluation of the previous scheme. Among other things, the evaluation has helped to clarify the purpose and practicalities of the fund and how to maximise its impact. Here, we set out some of the exciting changes and features of the new PCER Fund and the work we’re doing to get there.

Redefined purpose of the fund

The overarching purpose of the PCER Fund is to support and empower researchers and engagement professionals to do purposeful and responsible public and community engagement with research.  More specifically, this fund aims to:

1. Encourage and support projects that:

a. Expand upon established ideas; and/or 

b. Experiment with innovative methodologies and novel approaches, and enhance engagement practices; and/or 

c. Develop partnerships for future engagement opportunities. 

2. Engage diverse audiences with Oxford’s research, including under-engaged audiences, bridging the gap between research and the public. 

3. Develop researchers’ skills in public and community engagement with research. 

4. Fund projects with the potential to make a positive difference to members of the public, researchers, and/or their research. 

New features of the PCER Fund 

Informed by the evaluation findings and our own work, we have made some key changes to some of the processes around the fund, including: 

Flexible timescales 

Following its launch in September 2024, the PCER Fund will run year-round, with an application deadline and review window every term.

You can see the current dates for 2024/5 in the ‘Key dates and figures’ section.

Core principles 

We have developed a set of principles which will be upheld and inform our work. Throughout the delivery of the fund, we, the PCER team will: 

  • Support researchers and public engagement professionals at the pre- and post-application stage.
  • Use an accessible application form and facilitate an equitable application process.
  • Provide timely information and ensure that all communications are clear and effectively tailored for potential applicants.
  • Embed monitoring and evaluation into our funding scheme, enabling us to reflect on outcomes and foster continuous learning and improvement.
  • Ensure the purpose of the fund is aligned with the University's new public and community engagement with research strategy (in development).
  • Involve community members in decisions about which grants are awarded.

Involving community voices in decision-making 

We believe it is important that individuals affected by public and community engagement with research have a say in the engagement projects that receive funding. The PCER Fund decision-making process will now include a panel of community members. Before we launch the fund, community members will help us to develop elements of the fund’s assessment criteria. The community panel will also inform our decisions as to which projects receive funding. The recommendations and feedback from the community panel to applicants will provide valuable learning and encourage high-quality engagement in all projects. All applications will be reviewed by this community panel, followed by an internal panel comprising of PCER professional, academic/research staff and representatives from the community panel to come to a decision.

You can read more about the work we’re doing into this in the ‘Community voices in decision-making' section on this page.

If you have any questions about the PCER Fund, please email [email protected]

2. Key dates and figures

Application deadlines 

The fund will reopen for applications in mid-September 2024. There will be an application deadline every term, when submitted applications will be processed and reviewed.

For the 2024/5 fund, the application deadlines are:

  • Michaelmas deadline: 21 October 2024
  • Hilary deadline: 20 January 2025
  • Trinity deadline: 19 May 2025

We will aim to respond to all applications within six weeks, and successful awardees should receive funds 8-10 weeks after notification of a successful application. There may be some instances where administrative resourcing prevents this timescale.  

Available funds 

Projects are invited to apply for up to £6,000 per project, although the panels may make exceptions for projects where more funds are required.

We will aim to spread the total funds across the termly deadlines to make funds available throughout the year, but this is not guaranteed. We will fund strong applications when we receive them. We will publish the current remaining fund amount for the academic year on this web page.

If you have any questions about the dates and figures for PCER Fund, please email [email protected].

3. Community voices in decision-making

For the first time, the PCER Fund will work with a panel of community members to assess applications and highlight community perspectives on engaging with research. The development of this new aspect of the fund has come about through work within our team and from what we’ve heard from local communities and PCER colleagues across the University.

This is a pilot year for this new panel, with work still in development. We anticipate that the community panel will provide a valuable contribution to the fund in a few key ways:

  • Co-creating some of the fund’s assessment criteria – they will lend their experience and expertise on what ‘good’ engagement looks like from the perspective of a community or public engaged with research.
  • Supporting application assessment – ensuring that a community voice is heard and represented throughout the decision-making phase, and having a say in which projects receive funding.
  • Encouraging quality community engagement – the panel’s input may improve the quality of projects’ community engagement plans by providing constructive feedback to applicants before they start.

Community members’ contribution will help to ensure that responsible, quality community engagement is considered throughout projects.  

Recruitment 

We are recruiting to our community panel through March and April 2024. If you know of any individuals from local community organisations with experience engaging with researchers who may be interested in joining this panel, please email our Community Engagement Coordinator Rachel Piper – [email protected].

We’ll provide more information and updates about this activity on this page as work progresses.

4. 2023 review of PCER Seed Fund

In 2023, we teamed up with Science Practice to carry out a thorough evaluation of the PCER Seed Fund. The fund had been running since 2015 and we felt it was time to reflect and examine how the fund was working and how we might improve it – both in terms of the applicants’ experience and the impact the fund can have.

Our goal was to assess several aspects:

  • Common trends: We wanted to identify patterns in the types of activities that appeared in applications and understand what tended to receive awards.
  • Perceptions: We explored how people across the University viewed the fund.
  • Improvements: We brainstormed ways to enhance the fund and streamline processes for applicants and awardees, ensuring it fully supports PCER activities at Oxford.

Evaluation methods included reviewing past application data, analysis of surveys and interviews, and a workshop with relevant stakeholders.