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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R019967/1
Title: Supporting staff in Public Engagement with Research at the STFC National Laboratories
Principal Investigator: Geddes, Dr NI
Other Investigators:
Palmer, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: UK Astronomy Technology Centre
Organisation: STFC Laboratories (Grouped)
Scheme: RCUK PER Catalysts
Starts: 01 October 2017 Ends: 30 September 2018 Value (£): 31,089
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Sep 2017 SEE-PER Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Inspiring and Involving the public in our research is a priority for the Science and Technology Facility Council's National Laboratories, as detailed in our Royal Charter and Corporate Strategy. We have strong support for Public Engagement (PE) from Senior Management, a newly published PE Strategy, and a programme of direct engagement with schools, educators and the public that reaches tens of thousands of people each year. We want to continue to strengthen our PE, and one area that analysis of our current programme highlights as one which would benefit from redevelopment is our support of National Laboratories staff, and in particular our provision of training opportunities. To address this, we will investigate the challenge identified in the recent report "The State of Play: Public Engagement with Research in UK Universities" of enhancing the take-up of training and CPD for Public Engagement with Research, and the quality of provision. The National Laboratories are a large and complex research institute (a type of organisation about which there is a paucity of data regarding the state of embedded PE), and as such will allow us to investigate this challenge across a variety of situations.

We believe staff consultation is key to this project, to discover the best way of supporting staff to participate in PE. Led by the PE team within the National Laboratories, and informed by our Evaluation Framework, we will run a series of consultations with our staff to assess what format and content for training is needed, how staff can show the impact of their PE work, and how we can strive to improve the overall quality of our PE programme. Although the consultations will focus on training, owing to the interlinked nature of the challenges faced when embedding PE, we fully expect other useful data to emerge from this process. The consultations will take place across sites, facilities and disciplines, drawing on staff from all levels of the organisation and paying particular attention to ensure that groups such as apprentices are represented.

The results of this consultation process will be presented in an evidence briefing, and used to inform the development of a staff support package and professional development programme, which will be presented to Senior Management for their approval and endorsement.

Following the adoption of our Evaluation Framework, we see this as a major development project requiring significant formative evaluation. As such, we will be working with external evaluation experts throughout this project, starting with the planning and analysis of the consultation process with staff. We will use the outcomes of this to inform our piloting of professional development with staff, evaluating the outputs and outcomes in line with our Evaluation Framework and the tools developed specifically for our training programme - these include e-surveys, long-term follow-up and 'snapshot' on-the-day evaluation (e.g. asking for participant's feelings toward a topic in one-word before and after the training). We are at present reviewing with external experts the evaluation protocols for our training programme, and will adapt our evaluation of the staff development workshops in line with the recommendations of this.

The training will be reviewed as the pilot workshops take place, allowing for appropriate re-development or re-targeting of activities. From April to September 2018, the workshops will be rolled out across the National Laboratories, keeping a strong element of evaluation as part of the programme.

The dissemination of the findings of this work is a key aspect of the project, and STFC is uniquely placed to accomplish this with a wide audience. Briefings and case studies will be shared not only through the usual conference and network channels, but also our PE grant holders, and in particular our PE Leadership Fellows, will be ideal champions to disseminate the findings of this work.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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