It is crucial to thoroughly plan out a Public Engagement activity. Ideally, this should be done alongside the development of a research plan.
When planning your engagement activity, you need to think about the following:
Why do I want to engage?
It is important to remember that Public Engagement is a two-way mutually beneficial process and therefore when planning a Public Engagement activity it is important to consider what your aims are these can include:
- To enlighten and enthuse; sharing research with the public to better inform and to inspire.
- To discuss and listen; to better understand the public's opinion on research and to get new perspectives.
- To work together; collaborating with the public to help shape the future pathways of research.
Who are my public?
The general public comprises a wide range of audiences with different interests, affiliations, backgrounds, ages, economic circumstances, locations, and identities. What public you choose will depend on the nature of your research and why you want to engage. It is important however, for high-quality Public Engagement activities to have a clearly defined public.
What platform should I use?
The appropriate type of Engagement activity will be dependent on both why you are engaging and who you are engaging. Once you have considered these things there is a wide range of activities that can take many forms including, but not limited to, festival, seminars, use of social media, public talks, exhibitions and citizen science. It is important that the type of Engagement is appropriate, accessible and engaging!
How do I evaluate engagement?
Once you have delivered your Public Engagement activity it is important to evaluate if a change has been made as a result. This may be a gain in public knowledge that has led to a change in their actions or opinions, a change in the researchers thinking as a result of public insight or a change in policy or future research directions as a result of researchers working together with the public.
The method of evaluation chosen, should be considered depending upon what “change” you want to capture.