RCUK is committed to supporting and rewarding researchers to engage with the
public, and achieve a culture change so that public engagement is embedded alongside
research and valued as an important activity.
Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
Research Councils UK has signed a Concordat which aims to create a greater focus
on and help embed public engagement with research in universities and research institutes.
It is a single statement of expectations and responsibilities of research funders
in the UK regarding public engagement.
It has four principles:
- UK research organisations have a strategic commitment to public engagement.
- Researchers are recognised and valued for their involvement with public
- Researchers are enabled to participate in public engagement activities through
appropriate training, support and opportunities.
- The signatories and supporters will undertake regular reviews of their and
the wider research sector’s progress in fostering public engagement across the
The Concordat web page
has further information including briefings for you as researcher, manager of researchers,
senior manager or support staff, to help you implement the principles within your
Statement of Expectation:
RCUK has a Statement of Expectation for Societal and Economic Impact and four
of these aims that are specific to public engagement as listed below. A copy of
the full statement is available
- demonstrate an awareness of the wider environment and context in which their
research takes place
- demonstrate an awareness of the social and ethical implications of their
research, beyond usual research conduct considerations, and take account of
public attitudes towards those issues
- engage actively with the public at both the local and national levels about
their research and its broader implications
- publish results widely – considering the academics, user and public audiences
for research outcomes
Those seeking Research Council funding should consider using Public Engagement as a Pathway to Impact, further information is available here.
Public Engagement with Research Catalysts: The purpose of the Catalyst funding is to embed public engagement with research in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This opportunity follows on from the success of the Beacons for Public Engagement initiative which ended in December 2011. RCUK recognise that following the Beacons initiative further support to embed public engagement in the higher education sector is required. This new funding is intended to act as a catalyst for culture change within HEIs to help them embed public engagement with research within their policies, procedures and practices. More information about the Catalysts and the HEIs awarded funding is available
Beacons for Public Engagement: Beacons for Public Engagement are university-based
collaborative centres to help support, recognise, reward and build capacity for
public engagement work across the UK. Together with our partners, the UK funding
councils and the Wellcome Trust, we are investing £9.2 million into this initiative
in order to support a step-change in recognition for public engagement across the
higher education sector. There are six Beacons around the UK, and one National Co-ordinating
Centre. Further information is available here
Public Engagement as a Pathway to Impact:
Researchers are encouraged to actively think about the pathways for realising the potential impact of their research within Research Council grant applications as part of their Pathways to impact. This can include public engagement activities which are project specific and could contribute to generating impact from the research proposed. Applicants can also request resources for these activities.
Knowing Sport is the public engagement programme of the
International Convention on Science Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS).
A pilot grant scheme was funded by RCUK and administered by
Podium, the Further and Higher Education Unit for the 2012 Games, has been established
as part of the Knowing Sport programme and awarded the official Inspired by London
2012 mark. Ten grants of up to £1,000 were awarded to HEIs to run events aimed at engaging the public with the research behind the sport. For information on future grants in the run up to the 2012 Olympics please visit the
Podium website. Further information is available here
One of the selected events will draw in January sales shoppers to trial the effectiveness
of matching motivational music tracks to fitness training, another will see an interactive
debate with academics and sporting leaders on the ethics of human enhancement in
sport, and yet another will allow members of the public to experience the pace and
conditions of elite sporting performance, such as running the marathon or training
at high altitude. For further details on where and when the Knowing Sport events are taking place
and how to attend are available here.
Mentors and training:
Cutting Edge 2012: The Research Behind Sport: Throughout 2012, join world-class researchers and top Team GB stars, in six locations across the UK, to see amazing athletic demonstrations, discuss elite performance and share your views on the research behind the UK’s sporting achievements. Cutting Edge 2012 is a Research Councils UK initiative, in partnership with the Royal Institution, the Department for Innovation and Skills, The Institute of Engineering and Technology and PODIUM (the Further and Higher Education Unit for the 2012 Games). More information about the six events taking place across the UK is available
Teacher CPD - Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom: RCUK's
Teacher CPD programme is designed to help secondary school teachers deliver some
of the more challenging aspects of the curriculum in a way that captures and retains
the interest of their pupils. It is also designed to support teachers' development
of specialist knowledge and to facilitate links between teachers and contemporary
research. Researchers can help to develop and deliver courses of relevance to their research area, working in conjunction with regional Science Learning Centres, learning more about the science curriculum and how science is taught in secondary schools and developing key skills along the way. Further information is available here.
Nuffield Science Bursaries: Post-16 students can apply for a
Nuffield Science Bursary allowing them to work alongside practicing researchers in leading
scientific research institutes, universities and industry during their summer holidays. Researchers can apply to be a host and student mentor. For more information please follow the link
CREST: The British Science Association's CREST is a nationally recognised
accreditation scheme aimed at students aged 11-19 offering awards to encourage
them to develop their scientific curiosity, problem-solving and communication
skills. You could be involved in this scheme as a mentor working with a student
on a project. Please follow the CREST link for examples of how you could be
involved, further information is available
Engage Science Communication Course: This course is open to all researchers who want to develop their public engagement skills to engage young people, with applications from researchers funded by one of the UK Research Councils prioritised. This event is aimed at early-career researchers and more information is available
For further information and to register your interest for the next course please
contact National Science Learning Centres (email@example.com)
What's in it for me? The benefits of public engagement for researchers:
includes a selection of some of the highlights and first hand experiences of a range
of researchers across the UK of the positive benefits arising from engaging with
the public. Further information is available here.
Individual Research Council Initiatives:
STFC Small Awards: This provides funds for small, local or "pilot" projects
promoting science in the STFC funded areas. Awards range from £500 to £15,000.
STFC Large Awards: Grants of up to £100,000 for Public Engagement projects
which have strong links with STFC's scientific research community.
Media Training Course: This course takes scientists with a basic knowledge
of the media and develops their communication skills. It deals with radio, TV, and
written journalism, and is held four times a year. The course is run by The Royal
Society, and is open to all, although researchers from STFC and EPSRC may be able
to apply for bursaries to attend. Further information is available here.
Communication Skills Training: This course for scientists aims to offer
them the skills to communicate their science on a non- technical level to different
audiences. It is run by the Royal Society and takes place four times a year. Open
to all, although researchers from STFC and EPSRC may be able to apply for bursaries
to attend. Further information is available here.
For more ways in which to link with schools please visit our
Schools & Young
Please visit our
Guides and Advice section for more support with evaluation and engaging with