PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


An open research university

Richard Holliman  

In this paper I will discuss the findings from the Open University's RCUK-funded Public Engagement with Research Catalyst, 'An open research university', a project designed to create the conditions in which engaged research can flourish. The presentation will describe an evidence-based strategy designed to embed engaged research within the Open University's strategic planning for research and the operational practices of researchers. This programme of organisational change was informed by action research, working collaboratively with researchers at all levels across the institution to identify and implement strategies that work for them and the stakeholders, user communities and members of the public that engage with their research. Through a combination of surveys, interviews and interventions, we identified a number of challenges and proposed solutions to address them. For example, we found that researchers have a relatively narrow view of engaged research and the communities with which they interact and very few researchers strategically evaluate their engaged research activities. The presentation will document some of the interventions we introduced with the aim of broadening and deepening future researcher engagement, including a definition of engaged research and revised promotion criteria that include knowledge exchange profiles. In conclusion, I will argue that there is still a battle to be won for open and engaged research. For a culture of engaged research to be sustainable in the medium to long-term requires ongoing recognition and acceptance of its progressive value(s) by researchers, universities, funders and ultimately, policy-makers.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.