Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web (Free MOOC course)

This course may be useful for those who would like to utilize film-making in their public engagement? Find out more HERE

The University of Birmingham, the BBC Academy and Creative Skillset have joined forces to create this four-week, free online course.

RAE Enterprise Fellowships – spend a year spinning-out your research

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship scheme supports outstanding entrepreneurial engineers, working at a UK university, to spin out a business by providing funding and an intensive, bespoke package of training and mentoring. Prior experience of commercialisation activities is not essential, the desire and capability to succeed is more important and we will equip you with the necessary skills through a programme of training and mentoring. The Fellowships provide £35,000 of salary support and £25,000 for the continued development of the innovation and associated spin-out company. Applications close 7 September. For more information on how to apply please visit here. 

RAE Ingenious grant scheme for engineering engagement projects

There’s just two weeks to go to get your applications submitted to the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant scheme for engineering engagement projects. The deadline is 4pm on Monday 7th September 2015. They are offering £3,000 to £30,000 for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering and aim to:

  • inspire creative public engagement with engineering
  • stimulate engineers to share their stories, passion and expertise in innovative ways with wider audiences
  • develop engineers’ communication and engagement skills
  • create debate between engineers and people of all ages to raise awareness of the diversity, nature and impact of engineering

All Ingenious projects should engage the public with engineering while also providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement, and they welcome proposals from engineers, universities, science and engineering communicators and engagement professionals, colleges and schools. There’s lots more info on their website at 

UoB Researchers at Einstein’s Garden

This past weekend a group of UoB researchers braved the elements to take part in public engagement in ‘Einstein’s Garden‘, a creative and unusual science communication event nestled among the leafy arbors and fragrant rosebeds at the heart of the Green Man festival. Over the course of the weekend they spoke to and entertained around 1800 festival goers at their Think: Green Futures stall.

To find out more about what our researchers were up to see the Case Studies section of this site.

The Guardian have also published an article from one of the other research groups that took part in the event. Read that HERE.

Apps for Public Engagement – Testing the ‘Flashpoll’ app

Smartphones are now ubiquitous, making it possible to connect with the internet permanently and without hindrance. But can they be used to create a climate of public participation? Dr Carolin Schröder and Anna Schuster (both from Technische Universität Berlin) used an app – Flashpoll – to test what does and doesn’t work, and found that various factors can influence how high participation is when it comes to their local home, work, and educative communities.

FlashPoll is designed for location-based polling and instant feedback on various issues that come up in an urban development context. The geofence can be designed for each poll separately, and consequently limits the group of potential participants to those physically entering a specific area with their smartphones at least once during the poll.

The researchers discuss four key points worth considering based on their findings:

  1. (Public) Awareness is key to a successful poll: people need to know there is a poll if you want high response rates
  1. Individual motivations to participate must be taken into consideration: is the topic of individual interest?
  1. Privacy is certainly an issue: the initial step of downloading and installing an app may be an obstacle to individual participation.
  1. Location-based polling is context-related: an immediate physical nearness seems to inlfuence response rates

To find out how they tested the app we recommend reading the full original article here:

Mapping Public Engagement with Research in a UK University

A new paper discusses how co-creating the definition of public engagement with academics enables opportunities for broadening and deepening future engagement whilst addressing the confusion about the different ways that the ‘impact agenda’ of innovation, enterprise, knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange connects with public engagement with research. The authors argue that the concept of engaged research is useful because it provides a basis for exploring the mechanisms by which a wide variety of economic and academic benefits, as well as social benefits, can be produced throughout the research process. It shifts the focus from assessing the benefits that flow from completed academic research to considering how the boundaries of academic research practice can become more permeable to participation and partnership working by people and agencies that have not traditionally been considered part of the research community. This participation can be linked to achieving various kinds of impact over time but can also usefully be considered as providing value in its own right, since the methodologies that are used to generate impact can be assessed whether or not impacts are ultimately achieved.

Grand, et al. (2015) Mapping Public Engagement with Research in a UK University. PLOS ONE.


Notwithstanding that ‘public engagement’ is conceptualised differently internationally and in different academic disciplines, higher education institutions largely accept the importance of public engagement with research. However, there is limited evidence on how researchers conceptualise engagement, their views on what constitutes engagement and the communities they would (or would not) like to engage with. This paper presents the results of a survey of researchers in the Open University that sought to gather data to fill these gaps. This research was part of an action research project designed to embed engagement in the routine practices of researchers at all levels. The findings indicate that researchers have a relatively narrow view of public engagement with research and the communities with which they interact. It also identified that very few strategically evaluate their public engagement activities. We conclude by discussing some of the interventions we have introduced with the aim of broadening and deepening future researcher engagement.

Read in full HERE

Telling Tales of Engagement Competition 2015 – EPSRC (Deadline Dec 1st, 2015)

Telling Tales of Engagement Competition 2015 – EPSRC

Deadline Dec 1st, 2015

The RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DET) is running a competition designed to help capture and promote the impact that your digital economy research is having. Three prizes of £10,000 are available to support researchers to further tell the story of research impact in an interesting and engaging way to a wider audience.The competition, which has been co-developed with the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), is designed to produce very informative case study exemplars which can be used to help the wider research community develop understanding of the nature of a pathway to impact. It aims to encourage applicants to tell a story to describe the pathway to impact which actually occurred. This should be even more informative because understanding how impact arises is key to planning for future impact pathways.

We want the stories to portray impact as including what capability has changed outside the institutions, and what benefits that exercising this capability change has then delivered. Each ‘Tale of Engagement’ in showing how the actual impact arises and the evidence of the impact itself will thereby show clearly the link between the impact and the research. Choosing how to tell the story should reflect the nature of the story itself. We hope that giving the timeline of the whole story should stimulate thinking on more imaginative and illustrative ways to tell the tale of engagement and the resulting impact.

To complete the application form and for further details visit the EPSRC website HERE

Competition: Wellcome Image Awards 2015 (Deadline 9 Sept 2015)

Are you a scientist, photographer or artist? Have you produced any quirky, intriguing or beautiful images of biomedical research or contemporary healthcare? Enter the Wellcome Image Awards for the chance to see your images on display in science centres and public galleries across the world.

Winning images will be published in the Wellcome Images library, which is “an excellent way to engage with the public and to increase their understanding of your work”, according to the Wellcome Trust.

Judges are looking for high quality pictures produced using all artistic media and imaging techniques, from hand-drawn illustrations to super-resolution microscopy and functional MRI scans. Entries will be assessed on their quality, visual impact, and ability to communicate and engage.

Find out more about how to enter. Deadline: 9 September 2015.13149823253_187aa83daf_b

New report from King’s College: Beyond the creative campus

A new report published by academics at King’s College London explores the relation between universities and the creative economy, bringing together views and experiences form academics, creative and cultural practitioners and policy makers. The booklet summarises and critically reflects on discussions and ideas emerging from a two year research network project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


“The impact agenda has been highly instrumental in encouraging closer relationships with arts, cultural and creative sector organisations, with a focus on tracking and measuring the ways in which investment in these relationships has a positive effect. Like the impact assessment of investment in the arts, these forms of accountability are also criticised for the predominance of economic discourses in shaping the understanding and articulations of ‘value’ in HE policy-making (Gilmore, 2014; Khazragui & Hudson, 2015)”

Download or read the report HERE.

Beyond the creative campus: reflections on the evolving relationship between higher education and the creative economy


Comunian R. and A. Gilmore (2015) Beyond the Creative Campus:  Reflections on the evolving relationship between higher education and the creative economy, published by King’s College London, London (UK) available at
ISBN: 978-1-908951-14-4

‘Is it worth doing?’ Measuring the impact of patient and public involvement in research

A recent review article by Kristina Staley has been published in Research Involvement and Engagement (2015), 1:6. This may be of interest of those of you undertaking or considering patient/public involvement in your research projects.

The full article can be found here:


In recent years, there has been considerable interest in finding out what difference patient and public involvement makes to research projects. The evidence published so far has been criticised for being weak and anecdotal. Some people argue we need robust evidence of impact from scientific studies of involvement. In this review, I consider examples of where impact has been measured using statistical methods. I conclude that the statistical evidence is weak, if the studies do not consider the context in which involvement takes place and the way that it is done. Studies designed to take this into account give us more confidence that the involvement did make a difference to that particular project. They do not tell us whether the same impact will occur in the same way in other projects and therefore have limited value. Researchers gain an understanding of involvement through their direct experience of working with patients and the public. This is ‘knowledge in context’ or ‘insight’ gained in the same way that patients gain expertise through their direct experience of a health condition. This means that detailed accounts of involvement from researchers already provide valuable learning to others, in the same way that patients’ insights help shape research. However, the impact of involvement will always be somewhat unpredictable, because at the start of any project researchers ‘don’t know what they don’t know’—they do not know precisely what problems they might anticipate, until the patients/public tell them.