Information for researchers

Engagement creates the opportunity for people to exchange ideas and information and learn from each other. Get involved with current University of Bristol engagement opportunities and visit the resources page for more on training, funding and evaluating your project.

Before you start any public engagement, consider what you hope to achieve. Who might your work be relevant to? Who might be interested in it? What do you want people to think, feel or know after taking part in the activity? Should you let interested parties know about the project at the outset?

‘The public’ is very diverse; thinking about exactly which section of the public you want to target will help narrow down the appropriate route to engage them. It will also help you set objectives and develop methods that are relevant for your audience. Different audiences include:

  • Certain demographics – age, gender, location
  • Interest in a particular area or topic
  • School children and teachers
  • Media – radio, press, TV and web
  • Professional groups, such as healthcare workers and museum curators
  • Government and policymakers – local, national and international
  • Third sector and voluntary organisations – charities, patient advocates, local community groups

The Engage2020 Action Catalogue is a decision support tool to help researchers consider the best method to support their project needs. It consists of 57 methods for research driven by involvement and inclusion.

Working with other organisations can be key to developing and running successful public engagement activities. Partners bring their own knowledge and expertise of engagement methodologies and audiences; co-producing a project or an event with them can lead to a range of mutual benefits, both to the engagement and the underlying research. Contact us if you are looking for a specific organisation, or type of organisation to partner with.

There is increasing pressure to demonstrate the impact that research has beyond academia, both at grant application and reporting stages; public engagement is one way to achieve this. Visit Research, Enterprise and Development (RED)’s website for further information or download the guide to developing research impact.

Identifying grass species

Public engagement is an exciting and rewarding part of research - working out how best to communicate the ideas from our research to stakeholders, in ways that will (hopefully!) help them change their lives for the better. 

Jo Rose, Lecturer in Education, Graduate School of Education