Public Engagement Activity
Public engagement in research broadly refers to the many ways in which research can be shared with the public. Public engagement is a key way to inform others about your research; helping to increase public understanding and awareness of health and science, as well as increasing the transparency and accountability of research through constructive and positive conversations with wider society.
The definition of public engagement varies across sectors and organisations. At the Patient Experience Research Centre, we use NIHR's definition of public engagement which refers to activity 'where information and knowledge about research is provided and disseminated', however please note if you are applying for Wellcome funding, their definition of public engagement involves aspects of both involvement and engagement which includes informing, consulting, and collaborating with members of the public.
At Imperial, the Societal Engagement Team supports researchers to plan and undertake public engagement (defined similarly to that used by Wellcome), through their engagement toolkit, training sessions and seed funding for public engagement activity. They also help to organise the Great Exhibition Road Festival (pictured right) - a free annual celebration of science and the arts in South Kensington and online, which Imperial researchers and staff are invited to get involved in.
Public engagement case studies & examples
Engaging young creatives during the COVID-19 pandemic
Imperial researchers, together with a local theatre company, have supported young people to creatively engage in COVID-19 research. The virtual project, called EPIDEMIC, invited young people to creatively convey five COVID-19 research reports produced by Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Team through a series of recorded performances.
Diversifying Research Podcast
The 'Diversifing Research' podcast series was, developed by Fola Afolabi from the Imperial Patient Expereinece Research Centre, to critically consider how to improve the inclusion of underrepresented voices in reserarch. Across the 10 episodes Fola is joined by guests to discuss this important issue from the perspective of members of the public, community leaders, patient and public involvement practitioners and researchers.
public engagement examples
Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre Science Cafe
The Science Cafe is a safe space to bring together patients and scientists so that they could better understand each other and learn to work together to enhance cancer research at Imperial College, London. The team have written a blog about their reflections on setting up and running a Science Cafe as well as practical guidance on how to set up a Science Cafe yourself.
Let's talk about... 'Long COVID'
In early 2021, the Patient Experience Research Centre held the Let’s Talk About Long COVID Research public event to kick off the REACT Long COVID research study being led by Imperial College London.The virtual session opened with an informal presentation about the aims and plans for the study, followed by a Q&A session where questions from members of the public with personal experience of or interest in Long COVID were posed to the team by our public panel.