Planning for engaged research: a collaborative ‘Labcast’

Holliman, Richard; Davies, Gareth; Pearson, Victoria; Collins, Trevor; Sheridan, Simon; Brown, Helen; Hallam, Jenny and Russell, Mark (2017). Planning for engaged research: a collaborative ‘Labcast’. In: Kucirkova, Natalia and Quinlan, Oliver eds. The Digitally Agile Researcher. London: Open University Press, pp. 88–106.


How can you plan effectively for engagement? This chapter offers practical advice on how to respond to this important question in a pragmatic way. Our thinking is based on support we have offered to researchers through two related culture change projects: one designed to embed an engagement strategy and improve the quality of engaged research at the Open University, UK (Holliman et al., 2015); the other to develop a more structured, sustainable and aspirational culture for school-university engagement with research (Holliman and Davies, 2015).

In this chapter, we introduce a framework developed to support researchers who are planning for public engagement with research. As such, we have written this account primarily from a researcher perspective, but also with input from non-academic stakeholders. For the purposes of this chapter, we take non-academic stakeholders to include end-users, members of the public, and any other non-academic beneficiaries. Hence, a further aspiration is that the framework could also be adapted by a range of non-academic stakeholders to inform their negotiations with researchers. In the context of the activity we discuss in this chapter non-academic stakeholders include teachers. It could have also included the participating students.

In what follows, we offer an authentic worked example of the framework in action, involving an activity mediated via digital tools and technologies and involving scientists, an educational technologist, several teachers, 25 sixth-form students, and an evaluation researcher. It is important to note, therefore, that the framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable beyond this worked example. We have developed it from our experience of advising Open University academics from across a wide range of disciplines, consultation with Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), other projects funded through the School-University Partnership Initiative (RCUK, 2013), and our collaboration with Denbigh Teaching School Alliance. The framework should be applicable to any researcher and discipline, and all forms of engaged research.

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