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A stakeholder is any person or group that has an interest in your research and can affect or be affected by it. They could be, for example, collaborators from other academic institutions or professional bodies, or from business, the charity sector or government. They could also be individuals or groups who have a personal, rather than professional, connection with your research (such as patients).
Effective engagement with your stakeholders throughout the research cycle can be achieved by setting up advisory groups, face-to face meetings, networking, targeted presentations of results and other engagement activities. Think about how interested and how influential your various stakeholders are, as different groups may be able to help you in different ways, for example shaping research questions and the initial concept, steering the direction of ongoing research and translating findings into practice after the conclusion of the research. Your stakeholders can describe what a positive impact would look like for them, advise on practical steps to facilitate impact taking place in their professional or personal lives, and act as champions for your work.
Make sure you maintain contact with your key stakeholders after the conclusion of the research to enable longer term relationships and impacts.
For more information, please see: ‘Rethinking Research Partnerships: Discussion Guide And Toolkit’ compiled by Hilary Cornish (Christian Aid), Jude Fransman (Open University) and Kate Newman (Christian Aid.)
Knowledge Exchange is a broad term used to describe a range of activities that enable information and expertise to be conveyed between academia and business or society, for mutual benefit. It could be achieved, for example, though a research or training collaboration, consultancy work, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), or commercialization of Intellectual Property rights. Projects may be delivered with a range of clients, from the public or private sector, locally, nationally or internationally.
Knowledge Exchange can be a rich source of impact, so think carefully about how you can maximise these networks and opportunities. For more information, please visit our knowledge exchange intranet page.
Public engagement is a two-way process in which research is shared, for mutual benefit, outside academia. When planning public engagement, think about the purpose and audience. Who specifically do you want to engage with and why? Also think about why they might they want to engage with you.
Remember that the ‘public’ is not a homogenous group. Your target audience(s) could be communities who share geographical localities or have shared interests / roles. For example, they may be consumers, voters, parents, patients, residents, students, etc. It may be relevant to consider categories such as age, gender or ethnicity.
To maximize effectiveness of your engagement, you may benefit from collaborations with organisation who have reach into your intended audiences. Schools, museums, galleries, libraries, charities, etc, may give you access to a greater number of individuals than could be achieved on your own.
Make sure you record evidence of your engagement and how it has had impact. For example, how many people attended a workshop and how their awareness, attitude or behaviour changed as a result.
Remember, public engagement is a pathway that may lead to impact but is not necessarily impact in itself. If you are unsure, please contact email@example.com.
Please join the Oxford Brookes Public Engagement Network (PEN) that brings together researchers interested in public engagement, to support and promote their activities.
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) supports universities to increase the quality and impact of their public engagement activity.
An essential part of implementing your plan is evidence gathering. Without evidence, your claims to impact can’t be verified.
Evidence is anything that corroborates your claim. It must demonstrate that:
Think about who has been positively affected by your research. These are the ‘beneficiaries’. Examples include: governments; NGOs/charities; industry/business; community organisations or groups; policy-makers; practitioners or other individuals in any geographic location (local, national, or international). These might be your stakeholders but could also be other groups and individuals previously unconnected to your research. Make sure that the evidence you have supports your claims to impact for all of your beneficiary types, as corroborating material will be different for each.
Raw research data and other outputs such as journal articles written by you, are not generally evidence. Neither are dissemination activities, such as conference presentations. Instead, think about testimonials or other evaluative data; media coverage; online traffic; commercial indicators; citations in policy reports or stakeholder documents; awards or external endorsements; participation in high-level working groups or advisory roles, public engagement activities, etc. Evidence can be qualitative or quantitative but must be relevant, focussed and, ideally, independently verifiable.
Keep records of evidence as you go along. Use the Impact Tracker.
REF2021 Panel Criteria: Annex A – Examples of Impact and Indicators, provides a substantial table outlining types of impact and evidence that could help corroborate them.