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What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

The Open University’s Catalyst for Public Engagement project ‘an open research university’ is one of eight Catalysts funded by RCUK. The project aims to create an ‘ecology of openness’ through the development and implementation of strategies that support researchers and public, user and stakeholder communities to engage with research throughout the research process. Ultimately, the project seeks to embed public engagement with research at all levels, from the university’s strategic planning to researchers’ practice.
This is a multi-disciplinary project, involving researchers from the Research School, Business & Law, the Knowledge Media Institute and the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Government as well as the Institute for Educational Technology. The focus of the IET’s work package is on exploring aspects of digital scholarship and public engagement mediated through digital technologies.
The main goal of the Catalyst project is for the Open University to become an “open research university” in which public engagement with research is embedded at all levels, from strategic planning to researchers’ practice.
The Open University's Catalyst project will:
  • develop an Open University manifesto for public engagement with research
  • implement a rewards scheme recognising researchers for excellence in engaging publics with research
  • investigate the requirements and support mechanisms that can facilitate effective digital engagement with research
  • explore how researchers plan, enact and evaluate their public engagement with research work
  • build on work in career development and doctoral training programmes for researchers and research students
  • issue calls to researchers for projects on public engagement with research, providing a network of support
  • provide structured opportunities for publics, students, user communities and other stakeholders to engage with OU researchers and research

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

The digital engagement work package will use an action research framework to:

  • develop an understanding of researchers’ understanding of public engagement with research and in particular, how public engagement is mediated through digital technologies
  • explore current practices for digital engagement with research
  • develop requirements for supporting effective and sustained public engagement through digital technologies

Findings and outputs

There are currently no outputs from this project. 

Project impact

There are currently no impact measurements for this project. 


public engagement, public engagement with research, digital engagement, open research 

People involved

Eileen Scanlon (IET)
Anne Adams (IET)
Ann Grand (IET)
Rick Holliman (Research School)
Richard Holti (Business)
Nick Mahoney (Citizenship, Identities & Government) 
Hilde Stephansen (Citizenship, Identities & Government) 
Trevor Collins (KMI)

Project partners and links

This is an Open University project 



Start Date and Duration

April 2012 - March 2015 


Research & Innovation