Public engagement

We support public engagement with research through the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) and working with funders of research in the UK to understand the public engagement landscape.

The Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research

The former HEFCE was a founding signatory of the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research which was designed to build on previous commitments to and existing good practice in public engagement with research.

By setting out clear expectations for research organisations, researcher managers and supporters and researchers themselves, the Concordat aims to strengthen existing good practice in public engagement by ensuring it is valued, recognised and supported. This concordat is further supported by the Manifesto for Public Engagement which provides the opportunity for institutions to make a specific commitment to public engagement with research. The manifesto is hosted by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement

The NCCPE helps universities to engage with the public to promote best practice in public engagement. It provides a single point of contact for the whole higher education (HE) sector.

The NCCPE also works strategically with key national partners to help develop work across the sector, including sharing the learning from six Beacons of Public Engagement established in 2008 supported by UK higher education funding councils the former Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust.

The NCCPE have invited every university and research institute to sign the Manifesto for Public Engagement and they now have signatories from a range of different institutions from across the UK.

Public Engagement: Research

A wide range of research has been undertaken in recent years exploring the public engagement landscape.

Factors Affecting Public Engagement

The former HEFCE worked with a consortium of 15 organisations which support publically funded research in the UK to review the current public engagement with research landscape.

The Consortium commissioned TNS-BMRB to carry out an attitudinal survey designed to gather the experiences of researchers and those working in professional roles to support public engagement. The research builds on the Royal Society Survey of factors affecting science communication from 2006, and provides data allowing changes in the sector over the last decade to be assessed.

Read the full Factors Affecting Public Engagement reports and Consortium discussion document.

The Consortium included:

Students: Experience, engagement and communities

Commissioned by the former HEFCE this report draws together 10 case studies of institutional practice in embedding public engagement practice in the student experience through formal and informal learning routes. The examples are various and cover all levels of provision from undergraduate to postgraduate research. We see examples of genuine benefit to students, researchers and partners.

The full report can be found here

The State of Play: Public Engagement with Research in UK Universities

The former RCUK and Wellcome commission a study to synthesise a number of analyses exploring public engagement including desk research, literature reviews, and evaluations.

The report seeks to understand

  • What the sum of evidence tells us about the current key highlights, barriers and challenges for public engagement in the research and Higher Education (HE) sector;
  • What the combined evidence indicates about the extent (breadth and depth) of public engagement culture change1 within the research and HE sector as it stands;
  • The feasibility of benchmarking the current state of development of culture change in public engagement with research against what is already known about other recent examples of whole sector culture change such as efforts to support research careers or research-led teaching.

To report applied an adapted version of the engagement (NCCPE) EDGE tool NCCPE (2016b) to map key findings from the literature and interviews to assess the stage and trajectory of public engagement with research. This work informed further discussion with the public engagement community through a workshop in July 2016. The discussions from the workshop were synthesised and reflected on within the report where relevant.

The full report can be found here

For further information contact Louise Evans louise.evans@re.ukri.org.