Public engagement – Research England

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

Research into public engagement

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

Factors affecting public engagement

The former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) worked with a consortium of 15 organisations which support publicly funded research in the UK, to review the current public engagement with the research landscape.

The consortium commissioned social research agency 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 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, and demonstrate genuine benefit to students, researchers and partners.

See the full report on the UK Government Web Archive.

The state of play: public engagement with research in UK universities

The former Research Councils UK and Wellcome commissioned 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 change 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.

The report applied an adapted version of the NCCPE EDGE tool 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. The discussions from the workshop were synthesised and reflected on within the report where relevant.

Read the full report.


You can ask us for further information.


Last updated: 27 February 2024

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