Conference Report

Conference Sessions & Resources

The second Oxford Public Engagement with Research Conference (a first for online) took place in July 2020 with four days of sessions featuring internal and external speakers and over 150 delegates.

You can read more about each session and explore the resources available including some session recordings below.

Join us in 2021 for the next PER Conference and make sure you sign up to the PER Digest to get notified when registration opens:

PER Digest - You can sign up the PER Digest, a monthly email newsletter with PER updates and opportunities. The PER digest is available to researchers, staff and students across the collegiate University - to start/stop receiving the PER digest: email with ‘start’ OR ‘stop’ PER digest in the subject area and please use your University of Oxford/ College email account.

Picture of laptop, cup of coffee and pencils

Virtually engaging: why online engagement doesn't mean compromise

You would be forgiven for thinking that social distancing spells the end to everyone’s engagement plans - but technology to the rescue! In this session, Vicky McGuinness and Michaela Livingstone-Banks explored the key steps and considerations for translating engagement into effective activities for the digital realm, illustrated by examples from TORCH, Oxford Sparks and further afield.

Session slides: Virtually engaging: why online engagement doesn't mean compromise (SSO required)

Other links:

NCCPE Meaningful engagement guide to online events

Running live conferences and events virtually - Guidance provided from the University Events Office (SSO required)

picture of a crowd of people

Setting up an online citizen science project on the Zooniverse is easy: the BashTheBug experience

Does your research use images or photographs? Would you like to recruit citizen scientists to help you analyse your images? If so, this session is for you! Phil Fowler and Carla Wright, shared their experiences of setting up, promoting and running BashTheBug on The Zooniverse (a free online platform for citizen science projects). The session included a live demo and they also share their experience of setting up a prototype project on The Zooniverse.

picture of a person leaping with an open umbrella against a yellow wall

Co-developing inclusive public engagement events with people with Additional Support Needs

In this session, Oli Moore and Rupert Da Silva (KEEN Oxford) provided an overview of an inclusive partnership programme. Based on insights from engagement sessions they have run for young people with Additional Support Needs (ASN) during the past three years, they are developing a partnership programme with a local award-winning charity that creates inclusive opportunities for disabled people. The core principles of this partnership are to (1) co-create content with ASN participants themselves, to ensure their needs and perspectives are integral, and (2) move towards more inclusive 'mainstream' opportunities.

Other links:

Kate West’s recent disability lecture was a model of online accessibility (podcast)

MPLS science engagement funding blog discuss the PER Seed Fund (which funded one of the projects featured).

KEEN Oxford – Award winning Oxford youth-led organisation creating and running inclusive projects, providing support for inclusion in other organisations, and promoting inclusion more widely.

picture of a row of book spines

Telling stories that matter: narrative skills mini-workshop

Robert Holtom revealed how to craft compelling and moving stories. Robert examined three key elements necessary for a great story - character, plot and texture - and explored the importance of empathy for connecting with our audiences. Together, all these elements can enhance how you communicate your research to diverse audiences across a range of media and formats, including online and face-to-face events.

A film is not available for this session but you can book into a Telling Stories that Matter workshop, delivered by Robert, in the 2020-21 academic year

Other links:

Robert Holtom -

picture of various cooking utensils and ingredients

A recipe for evaluation: online surveys

In this webinar Annaleise Depper and Lesley Paterson provided specific guidance on how to develop, deliver and use an online survey to gather evidence of the impact from a Public Engagement with Research activity and to improve the effectiveness of activities. They guide you step-by-step through how they planned and conducted a previous evaluation which used an online survey, that will enable you to adapt the methodology for your own Public Engagement with Research project. Watch this webinar for best practice and top tips – from planning and writing a survey, to synthesising and sharing the results.

picture of a row of theatre seats

Developing engagement activities with your publics in mind

Together with Hana Ayoob we found out how to tailor public engagement activities and events to specific communities and audiences. We discussed how to decide on who we should work with and why it’s important, before working through how to tailor online and face-to-face activities to them. We explored how factors such as location, timing, format and more that can raise or lower barriers for different groups and why it’s so important to understand the people we are trying to engage with.

Other links:

Hana Ayoob -

NCCPE - Target Audience: Deepening Your Understanding (pdf)

picture of a railway line in the woods disappearing into the mist

Exorcising the 'impact phantom'

Richard Watermeyer, University of Bristol discussed how the evaluation of societal and economic impact derived from research, articulates a version of the ‘engaged researcher’, which many academics fail to identify with yet are forced to accommodate – an ‘impact phantom’. In this talk , Richard discussed both the alienating effects of the impact agenda and the need for the higher education community (everywhere) to disengage from modalities of research-governance that subvert and stymie efforts for a more profitable and sustainable – and crucially, honest public interface. No more is this necessary than in the current milieu of global pandemic and a need to help to mobilise – less hinder – the contribution being made by the university community in alleviating a situation of profound societal distress.

Blog Article - Impact ‘agenda’ or impact ‘phantom’?

picture of various bowls of recipe ingredients

A beginners' guide to communicating your science

In this webinar Michaela Livingstone-Banks and Chris Lintott (Oxford academic and BBC's Sky At Night presenter) took delegates on a whistle-stop tour of the key ingredients for effective science communication, including top tips, opportunities to take part and advice on where to find support.

Session Slides: A beginners' guide to communicating your science (pdf - SSO required)

Other links:

Register for the Public Engagement with Research 101 seminar in 2020/21 on the MPLS Training page

picture of a pink piggy bank

Engagement funding opportunities 2020-21

Do you need funds to turn your engagement ideas into reality? Unsure as to which of the internal funding schemes are best suited for your engagement project? In this session Annaleise Depper, Naomi Gibson and Vicky McGuinness provided a bright and breezy overview of three key internal funding schemes that support Public Engagement with Research at the University of Oxford including the scheme aims; key dates; insights into what the panel is looking for and top tips to increase your chances of success.

Part 1 - Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund (8 minutes)

Part 2 - Humanities Cultural project (9 minutes)

Part 3 - ESRC Impact Acceleration account (7 minutes)

Part 4 - Top Tips for applying (14 minutes)

picture of children wearing wellington boots

User-led citizen science: parents on Facebook co-creating research

Funded by Wellcome, Sophia Collins - Parenting Science Gang led a two-year project putting parents of small children in charge of the research agenda, and designing and running their own research. Their research ranged from mass spectrometry on the composition of breastmilk, to interviews about the experiences of larger mums in pregnancy and birth. But all of it was led by parents themselves. Hear how Parenting Science Gang did it, and what they learned.

picture of various colourful drinks

Conference countdown, mingle and quiz

Alison Woollard (Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research) provided a brief round-up of the University's Public Engagement with Research opportunities for 2020-21. Sam Langford (Engagement Practitioner - @scottishscicomm) then led everyone through a fun, engaging, online mingle and quiz.

Other links:

Sam Langford -

University Public Engagement with Research webpages

PER Digest - You can sign up the PER Digest, a monthly email newsletter with PER updates and opportunities. The PER digest is available to researchers, staff and students across the collegiate University - to start/stop receiving the PER digest: email with ‘start’ OR ‘stop’ PER digest in the subject area and please use your University of Oxford/ College email account.