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Open Access A 'work in progress'?: UK researchers and participation in public engagement

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The funders of UK research seek to embed public engagement by researchers within the culture of UK research. Within this context, this paper provides a snapshot of the UK public engagement landscape by reporting on new quantitative research that examines the experiences and perspectives of UK researchers (n = 2,454) and public engagement support staff (n = 260). The research suggests that ambitions to embed public engagement by researchers within institutional cultures can be understood as a 'work in progress'. There are indications that public engagement is part of the UK research landscape. At the same time, the research suggests that researchers' public engagement efforts are currently constrained; there is evidence of a disconnect between researchers themselves and broader institutional contexts of public engagement, and the sector is overwhelmingly driven by funding and rewards for research, teaching and other activities. In conclusion, these results indicate that, while current strategies have been helpful, longer term effort is required, perhaps targeting particular domains and, more fundamentally, perhaps featuring greater support and reward for public engagement.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Research for All is now published by UCL Press. New issues and all the back content shown here are available through ScienceOpen and accessed from the journal's page at UCL Press

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    Research for All is supporting the 16th International conference for Public Communication of Science and Technology being held in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, 26–28 May 2020. Authors of contributions presented at the conference are invited subsequently to submit papers to Research for All for a special feature on Public Communication of Science and Technology.

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