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Pathways to Impact, knowledge exchange, public engagement. Nicola Buckley, Head of Public Engagement. For Arts / Humanities / Social Sciences. Office of External Affairs and Communications. Research lifecycle

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pathways to impact knowledge exchange public engagement

Pathways to Impact, knowledge exchange, public engagement

Nicola Buckley, Head of Public Engagement

For Arts / Humanities / Social Sciences

Office of External Affairs and Communications

definitions of knowledge exchange public engagement and impact
Definitions of knowledge exchange, public engagement and impact
  • ESRC definition of knowledge exchange: ‘a two-way process where social scientists and individuals or organisations share learning, ideas and experiences’ – ESRC encourage ‘collaboration between researchers and the private, public and civil society sectors. By creating a dialogue between these communities, knowledge exchange helps research to influence policy and practice’
  • NCCPE public engagement: the many ‘ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit’
  • Panel C for REF: impacts of social sciences research on ‘creativity, culture and society; the economy, commerce or organisations; the environment; health and welfare; practitioners and professional services; public policy, law and services’. And Panel D similar.
reach and significance
Reach and significance
  • Reach understood in terms of the extent and diversity of the communities, environments, individuals, organisations or any other beneficiaries that have benefited or been affected.
  • Significance understood in terms of the degree to which the impact has enriched, influenced, informed or changedpolicies, opportunities, perspectives or practices of communities, individuals or organisations.

definition of research impact offered
Definition of research impact offered . . .
  • A ‘minimal’ position
  • ‘an auditable or recordable occasion of influence’ Bastow et al 2014
  • ‘An occasion of influence arises when we can show that an outside decision-maker or actor was in contact with and aware of academic work or of research . . . (p 53)
  • Could think of steps along the process: connect, engage, deliver
  • What connections, engagements and changes can be tracked as a result of impact activities?

‘The Impact of the Social Sciences’ Bastow, Dunleavy, Tinkler(2014)

ahrc guidance on pathways to impact
AHRC guidance on Pathways to Impact
  • Plan how to engage any users and beneficiaries that have been identified. . .and to increase the likelihood of achieving impacts.
  • Tailor impact activities to ensure relevant to the specific user and beneficiary groups . . . .Innovative and creative approaches are strongly encouraged.
  • Plan methods for communications and engagement, collaboration and exploitation. . . whowill be undertaking any impact activities and include any resource implications

communications collaboration engagement
Communications, collaboration, engagement
  • Training and advice

Public Engagement coordinate communications and engagement workshops for Researcher Development Programme. Includes: Media Releases: Introduction, and Presentation Skills, forthcoming Plus workshops on planning public engagement strategy, feature writing, audio podcasting, producing online video.

Available to have 1:1 and small group meetings on planning Pathways to Impact and can join working groups during project.

  • Collaboration

Working with CE on one-day engagement workshops involving social scientists and others – so far with International Red Cross, UNESCO and World Bank.

Can provide advice, contacts. City and regional cultural organisation group memberships, museums, (eg through Arts Council), local and regional third sector lists, school contact lists, local authorities, health care, businesses in the area etc

  • Platforms each year through Cambridge Festival of Ideas (now 18,000 attendees at 200+ events), Cambridge Science Festival, Cambridge series at Hay Festival and other opportunities that arise e.g. national festivals / events in arts, humanities and social sciences.
  • E.g. last year public launch event for Migration Research Network, 200 attendees, included speakers from Demos and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Conspiracy & Democracy research launch, BBC coverage.
  • University What’s On monthly bulletin to 10,000 subscribers
  • Can advise on plans and evaluation methods, have worked with evaluators to produce reports and papers from survey, focus group research etc.
  • Contacts with other UK festivals and cultural organisations
  • Contact us to get involved:

Festival evaluation paper:

  • Advice and support from Office of External Affairs and Communications
  • Media releases, features, Research Horizons, video, audio (some in-house production, advice on external companies too)
  • University design guidelines and templates, web templates
  • Contacts for freelance writers, journalists, designers, printers, video production, web designers etc.
  • and
  • Can share draft plans with us for input
process for planning to deliver a pathway to impact
Process for planning to deliver a pathway to impact
  • Map a pathway to impact (and plan resource)
  • Identify assumptions and assess risks for each stage of the pathway
  • Identify indicators for research uptake, use and impact
  • Collect evidence
  • Review pathway, identify gaps in evidence, try to fill
  • Write a contribution story

Sarah Morton

achieving and recording impacts
Achieving and recording impacts
  • Develop and keep updated an ‘impacts file’ alongside a CV and publications list, listing occasions of influence in a recordable and auditable way
  • Open access / online depository publishing
  • Consider working with external intermediary organisations and networks
  • Events programmes which share research – can be integrated multi-media and multi-stage from outset, technologies can be used to track and target audience members
  • Disseminating research by making use of and starting multi-author blogs, using social media etc.

LSE Public Policy Group 2011

esrc impact fund grants in university
ESRC Impact Fund grants in University

Examples from

  • Contract, democracy and policy: new nuclear power contract (Law, CBR, POLIS): workshop, short report, podcast, blogs, follow up meetings
  • Natural Capital Leaders platform: developed guidance to show CSR teams how to evaluate environmental externalities (Biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural capital) within particular context. Develop web interface like scenario game, test it.
  • Africa’s Voices: CGHR with IBM Research Lab. More research and insights from big datasets of SMS from radio audiences; deliver knowledge products for governance and development stakeholders, workshop at IBM Research Africa for stakeholders
  • Communicating climate change with schools etc: Skype communication Nepal/East Anglia. Build collaboration NGOs Mongolia, Alaska. New research ideas shared with teachers/schools through artistic/narrative/scientific communication
  • Group work in primary maths: sharing prior research from Hong Kong/ England, with more teachers to test, production of materials


  • Abreu et al (2008) ‘Knowledge Exchange between Academics and the Business, Public and Third Sectors’ UK-IRC
  • Bastow, S. et al (2014) The Impact of the Social Sciences Sage, London
  • JISC (2013) Embedding Impact Analysis in Research
  • LSE Public Policy Group (2011) Maximizing the Impacts of your Research: A Handbook for Social Scientists
  • Morton, S., Flemming, J. (2013) Assessing Research Impact: A case study of participatory research
  • Nutley, S. et al (2007) Using Evidence: How research can inform public services Policy Press, Bristol

Resources at