Engaging with research users

Research users are any persons, group, organisation or company who may be affected by, interested in, profit from, deliver or experience the change that happens as a result of your research findings. As you start mapping these groups, draw out what they might gain or why they may be interested in your research.

You may engage with different research users in different ways -- such as informing them of your research findings; consulting with and/or involving them in your research process to make sure you are asking the right questions; or collaborating with them to co-develop your research. 

Building relationships with research users from the start of your research, and maintaining a bidirectional interaction with them at all stages of the research process can lead to generating effective impact as well as informing future research or other impact-related activities. This may also provide evidence of impact (which can be useful for REF purposes and future funding), expand the reach of your impact-related activity, help raise your external (and internal) profile, and lead to unforeseen opportunities for future collaboration.

Engaging with Public

The University of Glasgow holds partnerships with various organisations through which you can easily engage with the public and various communities in Glasgow.

The University has a Public and Community Engagement Adviser, Dr Zara Gladman, who can advise on best practice related to your PE activity and evaluation, and organises the Explorathon participation for the University. Contact her at: zara.gladman@glasgow.ac.uk

The Public Engagement web pages provide information to help you plan out effective public engagement activity related to your research and can point you to specific PE advisers located in Schools or Colleges.

Top tips:

More information:

'Creating an Engaging Video' webisode series by Dr Zara Gladman will help you to create engaging videos for presenting your research and its impact to a non-specialist audience. 

Working with Businesses via Knowledge Exchange schemes

Knowledge exchange (KE) is a two-way flow of knowledge, expertise and skilled people between the research environment and its user communities in the private, public and third sectors and can be an effective route to reach your research user and to help drive impacts from your findings.

Top tips for working with external partners:

The most productive academic-business partnerships are those that last. Take a long-term approach to building and working with partners from outside of academia.

  • Make it easy for yourself to meet businesses by working with the people and organisations set up to connect academics to business; your college Business Development Manager and KE Associates, Interface, Innovation Centers (e.g. IBioIC, CENSIS, SMS-IC).
  • Build lots of relationships; the operations of many organisations go in cycles, meaning that ‘today’ might not be the right time to work together. Keep in touch and when the organisation is ready you will be there.
  • The goals, timelines and success criteria for academics are usually quite different to those of other sectors. Take time to understand each other; it will help further down the line.
  • As academics you are experts in your fields. Figuring out how your research might help with a specific challenge being faced in a certain sector can be difficult but it is worth trying to do so, especially when you are out networking because you can easily communicate the potential value of your research findings to the people you meet.
  • Good communication is key. It builds a relationship, leads to collaborations and helps avoid or solve problems that may arise while working together.
  • Get yourself on a training course! Ask your College Business Development Manager or Research and Innovation Services for information on the next course dates or check on your Core HR site for training and professional development opportunities.

There are many routes to engaging with businesses and other external organisations, including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, consultancy, commission work and contract research.

 The University’s KE team will provide support and facilitate knowledge exchange between the University academics and external partners.

Engaging with Policymakers

Policymakers require evidence to amend policy or its implementation, or to develop new policies. Policy impacts are achieved when your research findings provide evidence and/or influence policy debate, awareness and sometimes a change of policy. More information on how to engage with policymakers at local and national level can be found below:

Scottish Policy & Research Exchange have useful resources to help connect with the policymakers. 

We suggest subscribing to London School of Economics ‘Impact Blog’ which is a good resource to understand the impact of social sciences research on policy, and more. 

Working with Schools

Widening Participation team at the University can help you connect with schools in and around Glasgow. You can also organise school events through Glasgow Science Festival.

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) provides useful guidance on working with schools

Inspiring Young People In STEM: Planning Activities is a freely available online course to help you plan and design STEM activities for young people.

Engaging with teachers with your research for their professional development (CPD) can be an effective route to impact which can be recorded over time and can generate secondary impacts. UKRI published Engaging Young People with Cutting Edge Research provides guidance on how researchers and teachers can work together.

An Economic & Social Research Council funded project provides additional top tips when engaging with teachers.

Engaging via Social Media

Social media can be a useful channel through which you can communicate your research findings and engage with the public. Guidance on how to build your online identity and engage professionally with social media can be found on the University web page 'Your digital footprint'. 

Economic and Social Research Council's Social Media Toolkit provides guidance and useful tips on best practice for using social media to disseminate your research. 

Other channels to increase the online visibility of your research work can be found on the Unviersity web page for 'Sharing your Research'. Tips on communicating your research via website can be found here

We recommend that you screen grab or archive all your online and social media engagement for evidence collection. 

We suggest subscribing to London School of Economics and Political Science ‘Impact Blog’ which is a good resource for how to engage with research users using social media and other channels, and more. They also have a useful guide for academic use of Twitter in research, teaching and impact.