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Dec 13, 2017 Commentary
Supporting excellence in engaged research

by Richard Holliman

This paper reviews the purposes, definitions and criteria designed to embed ‘engaged research’ as a strategic priority with universities, and explores some of the challenges of implementation. Surveys of academics have shown various understandings of, and attitudes to, the practices of engaged research, but also impediments to realising the aspirations it expresses. Drawing on the experience as the academic lead for engaged research at the Open University, the author explores questions of professionalisation, for example, through training, support mechanisms and measures of recognition for engaged research. He concludes by arguing that, if done well, engaged research can promote epistemic justice.

Volume 16 • Issue 05 • 2017

Jun 09, 2016 Article
"We muddle our way through": shared and distributed expertise in digital engagement with research

by Ann Grand, Richard Holliman, Trevor Collins and Anne Adams

The use and availability of digital media is changing researchers' roles and simultaneously providing a route for a more engaging relationship with stakeholders throughout the research process. Although the digital realm has a profound influence on people's day-to-day lives, some researchers have not yet professionally embraced digital technologies. This paper arises from one aspect of a project exploring how university research and professional practices are evolving as researchers engage with stakeholders via digital media to create, share and represent knowledge together. Using researchers from the Open University (U.K.) as a case study, this paper reviews the extent to which they are developing multiple identities and functions in their engaged research through digital media.

Volume 15 • Issue 04 • 2016

Sep 29, 2015 Commentary
Moving beyond the seductive siren of reach: planning for the social and economic impacts emerging from school-university engagement with research

by Richard Holliman and Gareth Davies

In the past 25 years school-university partnerships have undergone a transition from ad hoc to strategic partnerships. Over the previous two-and-a-half-years we have worked in partnership with teachers and pupils from the Denbigh Teaching School Alliance in Milton Keynes, UK.
Our aims have been to encourage the Open University and local schools in Milton Keynes to value, recognise and support school-university engagement with research, and to create a culture of reflective practice.
Through our work we have noted a lack of suitable planning tools that work for researchers, teachers and pupils. Here we propose a flexible and adaptable metric to support stakeholders as they plan for, enact and evaluate direct and meaningful engagement between researchers, teachers and pupils. The objective of the metric is to make transparent the level of activity required of the stakeholders involved — teachers, pupils and researchers — whilst also providing a measure for institutions and funders to assess the relative depth of engagement; in effect, to move beyond the seductive siren of reach.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015

Dec 21, 2011 Commentary
Telling science stories in an evolving digital media ecosystem: from communication to conversation and confrontation

by Richard Holliman

The globalised digital media ecosystem can be characterised as both dynamic and disruptive. Developments in digital technologies relate closely to emerging social practices. In turn these are influencing, and are influenced by, the political economy of professional media and user-generated content, and the introduction of political and institutional governance and policies. Together this wider context provides opportunities and challenges for science communication practitioners and researchers. The globalised digital media ecosystem allows for, but does not guarantee, that a wider range of range of contributors can participate in storytelling about the sciences. At the same time, new tools are emerging that facilitate novel ways of representing digital data. As a result, researchers are reconceptualising ideas about the relationship between practices of production, content and consumption. In this paper I briefly explore whether storytelling about the sciences is becoming more distributed and participatory, shifting from communication to conversation and confrontation.

Volume 10 • Issue 04 • 2011

Sep 21, 2010 Commentary
From analogue to digital scholarship: implications for science communication researchers

by Richard Holliman

Digital media have transformed the social practices of science communication. They have extended the number of channels that scientists, media professionals, other stakeholders and citizens use to communicate scientific information. Social media provide opportunities to communicate in more immediate and informal ways, while digital technologies have the potential to make the various processes of research more visible in the public sphere. Some digital media also offer, on occasion, opportunities for interaction and engagement. Similarly, ideas about public engagement are shifting and extending social practices, partially influencing governance strategies, and science communication policies and practices. In this paper I explore this developing context via a personal journey from an analogue to a digital scholar. In so doing, I discuss some of the demands that a globalised digital landscape introduces for science communication researchers and document some of the skills and competencies required to be a digital scholar of science communication.

Volume 9 • Issue 03 • 2010