Public Engagement

When to engage

Once you've worked out the reasons for your engagement, who you want to engage with, and what you want to do, you can think about when it is best to engage.

Engagement across the research lifecycle

Engagement priorities may vary depending on where you are in your research lifecycle. The diagram below (click to enlarge) shows some considerations for each stage of your research process.

The Research Lifecycle

Consider how you'll engage right at the beginning of the lifecycle. Not only will this ensure you're thoughtful about who to engage with and how to engage with them, it'll also mean you can include plans in your grant proposal.

Research Councils now require you to complete a Pathways to Impact statement in grant proposals; through this, you can resource your engagement activities. The University's Research Development & Support Office has developed a Planning for Impact Toolkit designed to support you in completion of your impact statement.

However, if you're already halfway through your project you can still find effective ways to engage. The University's Impact Acceleration Account might be relevant to you if you're in this situation. 

Remember, each research project is unique; it may not be relevant for you to engage throughout the whole lifecycle, just at certain times. Or you may look to engage different audiences at different stages of your research. You should take whatever approach makes most sense for your research.

Timing your engagement

When thinking about when best to engage, there are certain things you might like to consider:

  • Look for existing opportunities to engage your audience (e.g. regular meetings they may hold)
  • Think about times / events where there are many people in one place (e.g. festivals)
  • Be aware of health and safety (e.g if working with children or vulnerable adults, you'll need a DBS check which can take up to 6 weeks) 
  • Prioritise your audience's convenience over your own
  • Seek out a representative amongst your selected public and ask them for advice

You might find this guide to working in partnership with others a useful way to develop your thinking.