Research - Collaboration

Public engagement

People are at the core of Oxford’s Social Sciences research.

Public Engagement with Research (PER) describes the huge variety of ways by which researchers can share their work with the public, bringing mutual benefit to both sides.

‘Public engagement is a mind-set that acknowledges that the public have a genuine stake in the work of universities – and wisdom and sensitivities that must be listened to and acknowledged.’ (NCCPE)


Public engagement can take many forms: outreach, collaborative research, citizen science, participatory arts, lifelong learning, community engagement, and engagement with NGOs, or other public-focused organisations.

Benefits of doing PER (for researchers) might include learning, developing new skills, gaining new insights or ideas, developing better research, raising aspiration, or being inspired.

The Social Sciences Division’s Research, Impact and Engagement (RIE) Team can provide advice, training, funding support, and examples of how to design, deliver and evaluate PER projects effectively and maximise the benefits for both the public and for researchers.

National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement with Research (NCCPE)

This site is the national portal for PER. It has tips and guidance for every step of the way, and some great toolkits to help you put things into practice effectively.

Oxford University PER pages

Support on planning, delivering, and evaluating public engagement with research, as well as: an e-mail newsletter, PER Seed Funds for small researcher led projects, a departmental PER Seed Fund for those wanting to develop the capacity and culture for PER in their department, a PER Facilitators Network as a community of practice for those involved in supporting PER, a biennial conference and training opportunities.

The central PER team also run the VC’s Public Engagement with Research Awards which take place every two years.

In 2015, the Social Sciences Division won the Building Capacity Award at the inaugural VC’s Public Engagement with Research Awards at Oxford. This was for the Social Animals Live Friday at the Ashmolean Museum. Check out the video of the event here.

Explore short films showcasing excellent examples of Public Engagement with Research (PER) activities across the Social Sciences and the University of Oxford which inform, inspire, consult and collaborate with the public.

Explore the Public Engagement with Research (PER) films

Who can help me?

We work collaboratively with colleagues across Oxford’s Research Services, Academic Divisions, as well as the Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), to ensure that Social Sciences researchers have as many opportunities as possible to develop their public engagement skills and experience.

For a first port of call, contact your departmental Research Impact Facilitator who will be able to advise you further on the best next steps for your PER ideas:

Business engagement

What is Business Engagement?

Business engagement and Partnerships (BEP) describes the development of mutually-beneficial partnerships between academic researchers and industry with the aim of addressing real-world challenges.

Business engagement can take many different forms, including undertaking an industry placement or internship; conducting a research project to address specific industry challenges; testing and analysing business partners’ existing methods; and securing an industrial partner’s support in a research grant bid.

What are the benefits of Business Engagement?

Developing these strategic business partnerships and strengthening academic-industry links can present researchers with a host of benefits. Collaborations with business partners can present opportunities to:

  • Secure alternative sources of funding for research
  • Understand the challenges of industry partners to which you can bring cutting-edge research and expertise
  • Access rich, large-scale, real-world datasets
  • Share expert knowledge and relevant insights to help businesses understand complex challenges
  • Stimulate exciting new areas of research
  • Develop valuable professional skills in relationship-management, stakeholder engagement, communications, and leadership
  • Expand and diversify professional networks
  • Raise the profile of your research
  • Change the way business leaders think, invest, and act
  • Influence policy agendas relating to your field
  • Deliver real-world impact to the mutual benefit of researcher, industry, and society as a whole

Funding and Development Opportunities

Aspect Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator: Turning social sciences research ideas into business

Are you a social scientist with innovative research ideas that could be developed into a business or social enterprise? The Aspect Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator (formerly known as SUCCESS) is specifically designed to help social science researchers employed by the University of Oxford to develop ideas, backed by university research, into a business or social venture. The programme, which provides entrepreneurial skills training and the chance to compete to win £50,000 to support your proposed venture, is open to applications from social sciences researchers across Oxford and its Aspect partners.

Deadline: this scheme is currently closed.

Aspect Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator: guidance and how to apply

Business Engagement Seed Fund

This scheme is a really flexible fund, designed for those who are starting to think about collaborating with businesses. Small amounts of funding (up to £4,000, but if you need more please speak to us) are available to support colleagues to build mutually beneficial partnerships with external stakeholders (such as businesses, industry bodies, and not-for-profit organisations) in meaningful and productive two-way discussions. For example, it could fund some crucial preparatory work, facilitate discussions and meetings, support development of collaborative projects, or pilot a new idea. Funding covers direct costs and can typically include RA time, travel and subsistence, costs for online activity, external consultancy (e.g. for IT, comms, design etc.). These grants are intended as a first step in developing new collaborations that will, in turn, open up opportunities for new projects.  

Deadline: this scheme is currently closed.

Business Engagement Seed Fund guidance and how to apply

Social Science Innovation Fellowships

New in 2020/21, the Innovation Fellowship Programme is a first of its kind opportunity to encourage innovation across Social Science at the University of Oxford in the areas of research commercialisation, business engagement and entrepreneurship. The aim is to support academic-led culture change, with Innovation Fellows acting as advocates for innovation, helping to develop an inclusive, supportive culture of innovation among social sciences researchers. 

Deadline: this scheme will re-open in January 2022. Please check back in the new year for further information.

Social Science Innovation Fellowships guidance and how to apply


The IAA 2 is organised as a stage-gated programme. Within this programme there are four Stages at which awards are offered, providing for knowledge exchange activities at different levels of development.

Projects supported by the IAA might start at a small scale, or at a very early point, for example, funding for initial conversations with partners. Award Stages 1-4 will support the project as it grows, through piloting to carrying out a fully developed impact project (if agreed outcomes are well met and appropriate continuation activity is planned, as judged by the IAA Review Panel). However, projects may come to the fund at any point in their development and enter the programme at any Stage.

Application deadline: See full guidance at the link below

More information about the ESRC IAA 


Who can help me?

We work collaboratively with colleagues across the University, including the Industrial Research Partnerships team (MPLS) and Business Development and Partnering (MedSci) teams, to ensure that Social Sciences researchers have as many opportunities as possible for business engagement and partnerships.

As a first port of call, contact a Research Impact Facilitator, who will be able to advise you further on the best next steps for your business engagement ideas:

Policy engagement

Oxford’s social scientists engage with local, national and international policymaking communities, bringing fresh perspectives, understanding of what has worked elsewhere, and why. Through sharing their knowledge, expertise and insight, they contribute to outcomes that benefits research, policy and the wider world.

From informal enquiries to formal inquiries, in consultation or sustained collaboration, policy engagement enables research and policymaking communities to improve public policy through making the most of their evidence, expertise and experience. It offers researchers opportunities to maximise the potential impact of their work – and, in the process, to deepen their understanding of its value and usefulness, and to promote it; to identify and shape further research needs and strengthen their case for funding. 

Departmental Research Impact Facilitators are well placed to advise you on next steps in developing your policy engagement ideas, and to refer you to the University-wide Policy Engagement Team, as appropriate. Many researchers also benefit from membership of the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN). OPEN connects them with hundreds of others across the University who share their policy interests, with opportunities aligned to those interests, and with relevant resources. It also makes it easier for local, national and international policymakers to connect with them.

Many opportunities and resources can also be found on the online presence maintained by the Policy Engagement Team.

Who can help me?