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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Planning for public engagement

Why do you want to engage?

There are many different reasons for engaging a public audience with research.  These can be grouped into three broad categories:

Informing - to educate and inspire, making research more accessible (eg so schools pupils, adults, families will take an interest in your subject area; or to publicise and disseminate your research results)

Consulting - actively listening to people's views, concerns or insights (eg to involve them in formulation of your research questions, or in a phase of the research)

Collaborating - working in partnership with the public to solve problems together, drawing on each other's expertise.

Its important to define your purpose for engaging at the outset, so you can plan accordingly.

See the NCCPE's website for more on this.

Who do you want to engage with?

We talk about engaging the public, but that could be anyone and everyone!  Your reasons for engaging will help you to narrow down the group(s) of people that you need to engage with, and this in turn will help you identify the best ways of doing that.  See the NCCPE's Understanding your audience pages for more guidance on this.

What techniques/approaches could you use?

There are many different ways that you can engage, and some will be more suited to your purpose and audience than others.  The NCCPE website has comprehensive guidance and information on this.

The ethics of engagement

Ethical issues are present in everything, and you need to be aware of any that affect your target audience so you can deal with them sensitively.  You may also be interested in using your engagement to explore the values held by yourself and the people you are engaging with - which may differ quite markedly.  The NCCPE has resources to support your thinking and planning on this.

Evaluating your engagement

One of the most important aspects of your engagement plan, evaluation should be woven in to your engagement project lifecycle. See our evaluation guide for how to make this happen.


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