Research Councils UK has published a strategic plan for engaging members of the public in research, including a promise to ensure that the value of engagement work by researchers is properly recognised.
RCUK says that its vision for public engagement is to generate dialogue and trust between researchers and society in order to inspire and inform the public, enhance the quality and impact of research, and contribute to the economy and the wellbeing of society.It says that it will deliver this vision by focusing its strategic work on stimulating researchers to engage with the public. It will open up RCUK policymaking and research strategies to public input, and will help to inform and involve the next generation of the public by sustaining the next generation of researchers.
To stimulate engagement among the researchers, RCUK says that it will support a change of culture within research institutions so that researchers are recognised for their engagement efforts. It will also build capacity for engagement through training and by sharing best practice.
RCUK also says that it will support collaborative and co-produced research, such as projects involving citizen scientists or user engagement elements. In addition, it says that it intends to clearly communicate the contribution that public engagement can make to the demonstration of research impact and the sharing of knowledge.
It says that it will embed public engagement within its systems and will consider how engagement can be both influential and cost effective in its policy and strategy work.
Looking to future generations, RCUK says that it will connect young people with researchers through formal and informal means, will seek to influence education policy and encourage the inclusion of research in curricula and will ensure that researchers benefit from engaging with schools through skills development.
“It is vital that the public have both access to the knowledge research generates and the opportunity to influence the questions that research is seeking to address”, the strategy says. “In enriching citizenship and providing wider perspectives on research, public engagement improves the quality of research.”