Influencing Policy through Communities of Practice
Written by Daniel Taylor, Assistant Public Engagement Officer at the Centre for Public Engagement
Queen Mary University of London works to support and advise researchers on delivering impact in research using a wide range of methods, from one-to-one advice sessions to building communities of practice around common themes.
An example of this is through the work we do at the Centre for Public Engagement (CPE) in designing and hosting Topic Groups. These are regular meetings that we hold every two / three months around different issues of public engagement. The topics are decided by discussing what people are coming to the team with, so that we're addressing issues that are common and important to those that do public engagement at Queen Mary.
In March 2015 the CPE held a session on delivering impact through influencing policy, with an emphasis on issues around health and wellbeing. The open meeting was advertised across the university, attracting a group of 15 staff looking at health and wellbeing from a variety of subjects across the three faculties at QMUL.
The group discussed ways in which they already influenced policy through their research, comparing experiences and exploring effective practices to bring together success stories and common barriers faced both from external groups and internal university systems. Actions that came out of these discussions worked to address how the common barriers raised could be reduced and best practice and support advertised more widely across the institution. You can view them online
Bringing together those working on similar themes in meetings such as this increases research impact in a variety of ways. In its simplest form the meetings act as a community of practice, creating a space for people dealing with common issues to come together and share their experience and practice, learning from others doing similar work. It can also lead to new connections forming between staff working in similar areas across different fields who otherwise may never have met.
This knowledge exchange also allows professional staff working to improve the potential for delivering impact by providing a window to the difficulties and issues faced by those working to create real world results through research. By identifying what hinders progress, or existing gaps in process and provision, these can be addressed to make the process of delivering impact through impact a smoother one.
The CPE are holding a follow up 'Influencing Policy in Health and Wellbeing' Topic Group in November, focussing on research and impact in this area. If you're interested in being part of this then let us know by emailing email@example.com for updates and location.
Written by Daniel Taylor
Assistant Public Engagement Officer
Centre for Public Engagement