Public Engagement for Research



The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) defines public engagement as follows:

“Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.”

Public engagement with research is multi-faceted and includes the following activities: outreach, patient involvement, collaborative research, citizen science, participatory arts, lifelong learning, community engagement, and engagement with partners. Universities also engage through community-based learning, widening participation, corporate social responsibility etc. These different approaches all aim to better connect the work of universities and research institutes with society.

For further details, go to:

Public engagement is seen as an important pathway to impact activity for the purposes of developing impact case studies for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and is also fundamental to the wider Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) agenda.


Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) 

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) provides a range of information on the knowledge exchange activities of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England. ‘Knowledge exchange’ refers to the wide range of activities HEIs undertake with partners to ensure that knowledge can be used for the benefit of the economy and society.

These partners range from individual members of the public who may attend events organised by a university, to a multinational company partnering with a university to develop new medicines. The activities might include public events, allowing businesses to access specialist equipment or facilities, undertaking consultancy or licensing their intellectual property so others may use it. Universities often also play important roles in their local area.

The KEF aims to allow universities to better understand and improve their own performance in knowledge exchange, as well as provide businesses and other users with more information to help them access the world-class knowledge and expertise within English providers of higher education.

As part of the annual KEF exercise, HEIs are requested to provide information on the following three areas:

  1. Institutional Context
  2. Local Growth and Regeneration
  3. Public & Community Engagement

Institutions are divided into ‘clusters’. The purpose of clustering is to group the KEF participants into KEF clusters that have similar capabilities and resources available to them to engage in KE activities. Salford is in ‘Cluster E’, namely ‘large universities with broad discipline portfolio across both STEM and non-STEM, generating excellent research across all disciplines’ (alongside institutions such as MMU, LJMU, Nottingham Trent and UWE).

The first-ever KEF submission was made in October 2020 and the KEF results made available in April 2021 via Dashboards ( Salford was ranked in the bottom 20% for P&CE, primarily as a result of its lack of PE strategy and mechanisms for recording outcomes. This will be addressed in the revised Research and Enterprise Strategy.

Further information on the KEF can be found at:


Public Engagement Outlets

There are a number of avenues open to our researchers to enable them to actively engage with the local community and wider public, including the following:

UoS Festival of Research

Discover, Develop and Explore…

Our annual Festival of Research brings together academics, students, industry and the public to discuss and develop the future research strategy. It provides a platform to showcase Salford’s research to the local community, providing a variety of engaging events on campus, in Peel Park and across venues in Manchester and Salford.

Working closing with Salford City Council we have co-created previous festivals with more than 70 of our industry and community partners. Our Festival makes research accessible to all and includes a programme of activity designed specifically for local schools. At the heart of the festival is the Postgraduate Research flagship conference, SPARC, where festival goers can enjoy performances, music, family friendly fun and opportunities to meet with students and staff, share research interests and experiences.

Further information on the Festival is available at:


Twitter: @salfordresearchfest     Join the conversation #salfordresearchfest


Manchester Science Festival

Salford is the lead educational partner for Manchester Science Festival, which is organised by the Science and Industry Museum to create innovative, inspiring and educational experiences around Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. In past festivals we have showcased innovative sci-art experiences created with our industrial and artistic partners.

Further information can be found at:


ESRC Festival of Social Science

The Festival of Social Science is a national event now in its 19th year. Salford partners with the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University to produce a local programme of events to showcase recent developments in social science research. Past events have covered contemporary themes including ageing and health, education, virtual reality and AI. The focus of the Festival in 2021 is climate change, to tie in with the COP26 event in November 2021.

The festival engages the wider community through a variety of mechanisms including interactive workshops, exhibitions, participatory research and debates. This enables us to showcase our research and also to seek feedback from our local community to contribute to our current research projects and to shape our future research agenda.

Further information on Salford’s participation in the festival can be found at:


Salford Institute for Dementia and Ageing

The Institute was launched in 2014 to conduct vital research and community engagement work into living well with dementia. It brings together an interdisciplinary team of academics drawn from the sciences, technology, arts and humanities and social science to undertake research into dementia in the areas of creativity, technology and the environment.

Academics work closely with a panel of Dementia Associates, who have direct experience of living with, or supporting someone who is living with, dementia. Through co-production, Dementia Associates contribute to setting the Institute’s research agenda and to the organisation of conferences and engagement events.

Further information on the Institute is available at:


Public Engagement Leads

If you are interested in taking part in the festivals listed or would like to explore how to get involved in your own public engagement for research events, please contact the following for further details:

Cross-School Impact and Engagement Lead: Prof Andy Miah (

REF, KEF and Impact Manager (Research & Enterprise): Emma Sutton (

Researcher Development Manager/Festivals Coordinator (Research & Enterprise): Davina Whitnall (