The complex, “wicked” problems that afflict contemporary societies pose a significant challenge to those making policy decisions. The work of social scientists can be crucial to understanding the human and social consequences of such decisions, yet little guidance exists to help them bring their influence to bear. Nadine Marshall and Chris Cvitanovic have compiled ten top tips for social […]
“Trust yourself”: how the Citizen Science movement proposes a radical rethink of the relationship between scientists and the public
Was Michael Gove wrong to say the public had “had enough of experts”? Not exactly, argues Peter Dennis. In also appealing to the public to trust themselves, Gove touched a deeper nerve, one running back to Kant, the Enlightenment and intellectual autonomy. However, whereas in Kant’s day the public was the same group of people to whom both political and […]
Fostering greater awareness of how universities operate can serve them well when their integrity comes under attack
Media stories about universities often focus on shortcomings; the routines of good teaching, solid research and maintaining high standards rarely merit attention. Moreover, universities can sometimes find themselves under attack in spite of their commitment to high standards and following correct procedures. Brian Martin relays his experience of how defending a university’s integrity can be hamstrung by confidentiality requirements […]
Engaging with citizens online: civic apps must offer dynamic interactions in order to be truly effective
In this era of fake news and misinformation, it is good to be reminded of how the internet is being used to improve the ways in which the ideals of democracy are translated into action. One such example is the use of digital technologies to enable people to engage with urban challenges in their neighbourhoods via civic apps. Sarah […]
Improved integration of communications and scholarly roles can help academics become successful digital influencers
It has become increasingly incumbent upon higher education institutions to improve the visibility of their academic research. Heather Crookes has examined the role of university departments in transitioning academic researchers into digital influencers able to engage with non-academic publics. Although the value and opportunities presented by this are clear, some obstacles remain. It is improved integration of communications and […]
Amidst near-constant research and publication pressures, academics can sometimes shy away from public engagement activities. However, those who do so may be overlooking the potential benefits of such outreach. Iain Begg explains how media work in particular can help infuse research with relevance, offer a fresh perspective and reach new audiences.
Funding bodies have become increasingly insistent on closer engagement between […]
Delivering research impact that is aligned to social priorities requires public participation throughout the process
The notion that increased public participation is a key component of research impact has developed and gained traction. Indeed, recent analysis has shown that public and user participation does play a key role in delivering impact. However, how does this participation work in practice? Steven Hill, Elizabeth Morrow and Fiona Ross note that the majority of public engagement focuses […]
Contemporary data infrastructures have had transformative effects; not only on methods, technologies and standards relating to data but also on our social, political, economic and cultural worlds. Building on the open data movement’s successes in the opening and sharing of data sets, Jonathan Gray argues it is time for a broader conversation around the making and development of data […]
Crowdsourcing for social sciences researchers: data gathering, teaching, learning and research dissemination from a single project
What if your next research dissemination exercise could also help you gather unique data for your next research project, while at the same time providing your students with unique learning opportunities? Darren Moon reflects on the success of the award-winning ConstitutionUK project and suggests how its crowdsourcing techniques might represent a unique opportunity and alternative to both traditional research dissemination methods […]
Policymakers frequently fail to use research evidence in their work. Academia moves too slowly for the policy world and its findings do not translate easily into policy solutions. Using the Department of Health as a case study, Jo Maybin outlines how research most likely has an impact as a result of personal interactions between individual researchers and policymakers. But this can limit the […]
UCL Student Engager project provides platform for PhD students to develop skills in public engagement.
Kevin Guyan provides background on the Student Engager project, a UCL programme for PhD students to engage with the public over museum collections and ongoing research. Projects like this could play a vital role in training the next generation of academics in a way that highlights the benefits of sharing research with non-university audiences.
If you visit one of UCL’s […]
Social science’s trustworthiness is under threat. In order to save it, argues Chris Sampson, we must shift our focus away from media engagement and towards direct public engagement. We need to communicate the findings of our existing research, but just as important is the potential to learn through engaging with wider groups of people. Everyone ought to be a […]
In the States, ‘clinical’ sociologists are frequently hired to address problems within all various organisations and corporations. The UK is still catching up to this, argues Nick Fox. There are some great examples of the use of sociological approaches in public and private sectors, but sociologists interested in applying knowledge to fields of work outside academia need to identify the tools, knowledge […]
Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp from the University of the West of England, Bristol offer support for researchers looking to track and evidence the unique, creative and often qualitative outcomes of public engagement and communication activities. Rather than an add-on to the research, it may be possible to embed evaluation within the research project itself.
As science communication researchers and practitioners, we’ve been […]
Modelling Engagement: Using theatre-based workshops to explore citizenship and research participation.
Recent research highlights the significant contribution that migrant mothers make to UK society. Dr Umut Erel from the Open University looks at how theatre was used as a strategy to co-produce this research. The workshops and resulting research findings demonstrate the value of two-way exchange between participants and researchers. The evidence suggests it is time to reframe the debate […]