Journeys of Engagement: When do scientists take ownership of public engagement?

Journeys of Engagement: When do scientists take ownership of public engagement?

Author: Kenneth Skeldon – Wellcome Genome Campus, United Kingdom


  • Emma Clarke – ADAPT Centr, Ireland
  • Edward Duca – University of Malta, Malta
  • Agnes Szmolenszky – European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany

Over the years there have been multiple initiatives to encourage researchers from all disciplines to embed public engagement in their work. In the UK and Europe, research funders have been instrumental in this, through impact and engagement expectations on grants and how research outcomes are measured. However what is this actually meaning for the individual scientists and researchers at the ‘coal face’? How do researchers currently feel about public engagement, while being expected to publish, attract funds and develop peer-respect in an ever more competitive research envrionment? The past decade has seen interventions aimed at aligning these factors, turning challenges into opportunities, but what realistically are the “journeys” needed for individual researchers and teams?

We have been exploring and comparing these issues within the considerable researcher communities of four major establishments – the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (based in Heidelberg, Germany with institutes across Europe), the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire, UK (home of the Wellcome Sanger Institute), the ADAPT Research Centre in Ireland (comprising Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology) and the University of Malta. We have surveyed the motivations and views of researcher communities around taking ownership of public engagement. In our chaired roundtable, we will first present comparative data from researcher communities to seed discussions of the success (or otherwise) of support interventions – including career incentives, training, impact and leverage of funding. We will explore what sort of institutional and external support measures enable successful journeys with public engagement, such that it can become ‘normalised’ as a beneficial and valued part of what researchers do.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Time