Outcomes and Impacts

Public Engagement and Engaged Research

In UCD, we have a vibrant community of researchers, science communicators and educators who participate in activities and initiatives in public engagement and research stakeholder engagement.

Public engagement in research encompasses a wide spectrum of activities. It has evolved over time with an increasing focus on a two-way process with the goal of generating mutual benefit for the research institution and the public and civic organisations they engage.

Spectrum of Public Engagement

How UCD Supports Public Engagement

In UCD, we support public engagement through our central supports in the UCD Research Office including a dedicated Engaged Research Manager. Other supports throughout the university include UCD in the Community, which supports and promotes civic engagement across the UCD community and beyond. The UCD Public Engagement Community of Practice, which is a vibrant voluntary group of researchers, educators and public engagement practitioners with a mission to further develop and champion a culture of public engagement in UCD. The UCD Citizen Science Community of Practice which provides a forum for the UCD community to engage with Citizen Science in their research and teaching through a network of practitioner and knowledge sharing. UCD supports researchers in the exploration of new approaches to research and co-creation skills towards the betterment of research for and with society. Get inspired with examples of different types of public engagement from across the university here


Public Engagement:

  • Underpins the civic and civil responsibilities of the university by inviting various publics to experience its work and engage with its communities
  • Builds public support for research and innovation
  • Develops the communication skills of UCD researchers and students
  • Contributes to addressing UCD's research priorities through collaboration, co-production and involvement with multiple stakeholders and diverse audiences. 
  • Develops institutional ambassadors and role models, thereby raising the profile of UCD academics nationally and internationally
  • Enhances the reputation of UCD


There is an increased focus on aligning strategic research with societal needs, expectations and values both nationally and within Europe. Engaging the public in different aspects of research design, conduct and dissemination can harness collective intelligence and improve science-society literacy, in addition to improving the relationship between science and society. There is increasing pressure to demonstrate the impact that research has beyond academia both at the grant application stages and also at the reporting stage.  Engagement with research stakeholders and public engagement can be a pathway to impact.


Funding agencies including the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board, and Horizon Europe all place significant weight on the need for greater engagement with public research stakeholders.  


Engaged Research

Engaged Research describes research approaches that involve collaboration with public(s) and research stakeholders and which aim to improve, understand or investigate issues of public concern (IUA, 2016). 

Front cover of Engage Your Research Guide                     


There is an increased focus on aligning strategic research with societal needs, expectations and values both nationally and within Europe. Engaging the public in different aspects of research design, conduct and dissemination can harness collective intelligence and improve research-society literacy in addition to improving the relationship between research and society.


For more information on engaged research, please see Engage Your Research, our introductory guide to engaging and involving the public in research. This guide will introduce you to how, where and why to engage the public in your research.


When the target users of your research are included in the conversations, design, conduct or communications about research they can identify overlooked research considerations and opportunities. Collaborating with public contributors can help researchers to explain research ideas, concepts and relevance in a more accessible way. 


Good communication is key for successful funding applications. Refining the key messages and goals of your research can greatly benefit from this type of collaboration.

Public(s) refers to your targeted audience, be they communities of people based on their interests, passions or other shared circumstances. It should be noted that although some initiatives may be targeted to reach an interested ‘general public’, targeting the general public for research engagement as if they were an undifferentiated group of people is rarely successful.

 Common public research stakeholders include:

  • Civil and civic society organisations, for example charities, advocates, local community groups, patient groups.
  • End users of research outcomes
  • Public users of products and services
  • Professional service and product users
  • Government and policymakers – local, national and international
  • Others

An engaged research approach has become increasingly common across all research disciplines since the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe (2014). Public engagement is one of the six dimensions of responsible research and innovation. 


 Engaged research:

  • Increases the relevance of research
  • Engages new perspectives from across our diverse society
  • Generates new research ideas
  • Enables the identification of solutions which would otherwise go unnoticed
  • Builds trust between citizens, researchers, research institutions, and the research they produce. 
  • Reduces research waste
  • Promotes greater accountability in research
  • Creates more impactful research outcomes


Learn more about UCD Research's Engaged Research Seminar Series


Engaged Research Impact Prize

A new category has been added to the annual UCD Impact Case Study Awards. The Engaged Research Impact Prize recognises projects and researchers who achieve research impact through the use of engaged research approaches. 

Dr Mark Coen and Professor Katherine O’Donnell were awarded the first engaged research impact prize for their work "Correcting state narratives on the Magdalene Laundries".  This work embodied the values of engaged research and arose from a near two decade relationship between researchers and survivors of Magdalene Laundries.

Since 2011, Prof O’Donnell has been working with survivors to collect oral histories related to the Magdalene laundries. This provided context, understanding and prompts as to which avenues to investigate via archival research. The research project for which they have been awarded the engaged research impact prize was guided by survivors of Magdalene Laundries from the offset. 

This project focused on Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry. Survivors helped the researchers understand both this specific site, and the Magdalene system more generally. Researchers directly engaged with survivors during the research process. This included arranging site visits for survivors, where their insights guided the architectural researchers in the analysis and interpretation of research findings. Discussion and dialogue between researchers and survivors also helped piece together history of the Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry from a varied range of documentary sources. This was particularly important as the Religious Sisters of Charity, who owned and managed the laundry, refused to give the research team access to their archives. Finally, a key outcome of this project is that artefacts from the site will be transferred to the National Museum of Ireland. Discussions between the survivors and the curator from the National Museum informed what items are being acquisitioned into the national collection. 

It is readily apparent that engagement with survivors was embedded throughout this research, from concept to outcome. The combined interdisciplinary and engaged research approaches resulted in novel research that ultimately found evidence contradicting the state narrative on Magdalene Laundries. This has resulted in strong social, political and cultural impacts of this research. Click here to read the full impact case study.


Citizen Science

Citizen science is a term used to describe a wide range of activities and practices that involve people who do not identify as professional scientists in scientific research. The term citizen science is used most frequently in the natural sciences such as ecological and astronomical research. The interpretation of what citizen science is can vary by discipline. Rather than harmonise a definition of what citizen science is, or indeed isn’t, the European Citizen Science Association has instead developed a set of 10 principles of citizen science. UCD staff have established a community of practice in citizen science open to all members of the UCD community. 


Public and Patient Involvement 

Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) is the term for public involvement and co-production frequently used within the disciplines of health and social care research.  PPI is a research practice that involves public(s) and patients in decision-making, prioritising, planning, conducting and communicating research with the overall goal of improving research relevance and impact. The national PPI Ignite Network has resources on PPI in research and PPI Ignite Network @ UCD provides general support and training on PPI.  


To make a strategic, considered plan for the involvement of patients and public(s) throughout all stages of research, use the PPI planning canvas.


Record your public engagement activities

Did you know you can record your public engagement activity as part of your researcher profile in RMS? Be it a school outreach event, public and patient involvement, a public lecture, or citizen assembly- don't forget to record it as part of your professional activities. Simply login to your RMS Profiles system,  scroll down to ‘Professional Activity’, click "Add New" and select "Public Engagement Activity". A step by step guide on how to update the professional activities in RMS Profiles can be found here.  


Central Supports

Public Engagement and PPI Contact Details
For public engagement with research enquiries  

Dr. Emma Dorris

PPIE Project Officer 


The PPI Ignite Network @ UCD Contact Details

The PPI Ignite Network @ UCD team are actively embedding public & patient involvement in health and social care research, education and training, and  professional practice across UCD’s structures. They are developing supports to involve people from all backgrounds in research and education to make involvement in health and social care research meaningful and effective. 

Look out for upcoming events and training

Email PPI Ignite Network@UCD


UCD Citizen Science Community of Practice   Contact Details

This community of practice is intended for UCD staff, researchers and students doing or interested in doing citizen science for research, teaching or public engagement.

Visit Website
Keep up to date with the activities and news of the community of practice Join mailing list 
UCD Public Engagement Community of PracticeContact Details

A voluntary network of UCD staff and students with a vision to further develop and champion a culture of public engagement in UCD. Their mission is to establish UCD as a leader in public engagement with research, teaching and society. 

Visit the UCD Public Engagement Community of Practice website to see resources, seminars, events and case studies, or to join the community.

Visit the UCD Public Engagement Community of Practice website 

Keep up to date by joining their mailing list

UCD in the CommunityContact Details
UCD in the Community is an initiative that aims to support and promote civic engagement across the UCD community and beyond. UCD in the Community aims to connect UCD staff and students with the wider community for mutual benefit, empowering the UCD community as socially aware citizens.

Email UCD in the Community                                           

Visit UCD in the Community