HOW TO EXPLORE THE TOOLKIT

The Toolkit has been developed Luciano d’Andrea and Giovanni Caiati (Laboratorio di Scienze della Cittadinanza). The development process included a testing phase involving 8 experts and potential users. The final revision has been done by Mikko Rask (University of Helsinki), PE2020 project coordinator. The web portal has been developed by Danish Board of Technology Foundation. Special thanks are due to the EC-funded Engage 2020 Project, which allowed a direct access from this Toolkit to their Action Catalogue of PE tools.

Structure

The Toolkit is organised in four sections.

A. Strategic Framework. This section provides guidelines and resources for interpreting PE in the context of the many change processes affecting science (which, in turn, are mirroring broader transformations across contemporary societies) and for appropriately placing PE in the current European policy framework.
B. Methods and tools. This section is focused on PE methods and tools. It allows to categorise the many PE approaches and mechanisms, to plan and implement PE initiatives and to recognise recurrent obstacles and resistances. Connections of PE practices with policy cycle and research phases are also explored.
C. Institutional anchorage. This section deals with how to permanently embed PE in the current practices of research institutions, by activating, developing and evaluating a PE-oriented action plan involving leadership and staff. Examples of PE strategies, programmes and tools devised by research organisations are given.
D. Societal anchorage. This section dwells upon strategies and tools that research institutions may develop in order to contribute in making PE with science a current social practice, thus promoting the consolidation of a scientific citizenship. This implies an increase in the capacity of research institutions to communicate science, educate to PE, implement networking activities and boundary work and support national or local policies on public engagement.

Sources

The Toolkit made use of different sources.

On the one side, it is based on the many activities carried out under the PE2020 project, including, among other things:

  • The development of an inventory of 76 PE mechanisms and 250 initiatives
  • An in-depth analysis of 38 PE initiatives carried out also through direct interviews with the promoters
  • The conduct of a study aimed at defining a categorization of PE tools and instruments (including innovativeness criteria)
  • The development of a conceptual model of public engagement in the context of a dynamic and responsible governance of research and innovation;
  • The implementation of six pilot projects focused on the application of various PE tools in different social and organisational contexts.

On the other side, the Toolkit capitalises on the wide literature-derived practical and theoretical knowledge produced on public engagement and other related issues, including, e.g.:

  • Some 25 handbooks, toolboxes and guidelines specifically focused on public engagement in science and technology or on more specific issues (such as the evaluation of PE initiatives or the development of online PE)
  • Other similar guidance texts on the embedment of PE in research institutions
  • Practical and guidance texts developed in domains closely connected to PE, such as gender equality in science and technology, science communication, networking and boundary work
  • Programmes and strategies developed by universities and research organisations on PE
  • Policy documents pertaining to science-in-society-related issues developed by European or national authorities
  • Scientific products (papers, books, grey literature) concerning the issues dealt with in the Toolkit.

An effort was made to select the sources that were the most up-dated, reliable (e.g., provided by renowned institutions and authoritative authors), and relevant as possible.

How to read it

The Toolkit is made up of:

  • The main text; and
  • A set of resources.

The main text is short, it is organised in sub-sections and contains the key messages of the Toolkit. It can be therefore autonomously read thoroughly.

In the main text, a set of links are placed, allowing to access a wide range of resources of different types, including, e.g.:

  • Relevant data and research results
  • Conceptual models and schemes
  • Quotations from relevant authors
  • Definition of relevant concepts
  • Presentation of methods and tools
  • Examples of programmes and strategic plans adopted by individual research institutions
  • Description of European or national policies
  • References and texts available online.

Each part is autonomous, thus the readers can decide what to read and what to skip by selecting from the main text the issues they are more interested in.

In order to prevent misunderstandings, it is perhaps useful to clarify some terminological issues.

  • The term “public engagement” is used in its broader scope, to include other connected concepts, such as “civic engagement”, “public dialogue” or “civic participation”. In some cases, distinctions are made between these terms but, in general, when the expression “public engagement” is used, it is understood as including any form of participatory mechanisms.
  • The term “science” is always used to refer to “science and technology” or “techno-science”.
  • The term “sponsor” is used to refer to the individual(s) or institution(s) promoting the PE exercise.

The Toolkit widely use the contribution of many authors and many different sources (including handbooks, guidelines, policy documents, texts presenting university programmes in PE or other connected sectors, etc.). All materials (apart from very few cases) were already available on the Web. The sources have been always cited and the website address from where they have been drawn is also cited. Any quotation and excerpt has been written in Italics.

How to use it

In developing the Toolkit, an effort has been made to harness and organise, as far as possible, the vast array of publications and knowledge dealing with PE with the aim of providing a usable guidance document for developing PE-oriented policies.

However, the real contribution that the Toolkit is intended to give is prompting the readers to start taking PE seriously, to interpret their own experience with PE in a larger frame, and to consider what PE can do for them, their institution and their research, being aware of benefits, obstacles, constraints and implications. Beyond being a guidance for doing PE, the Toolkit is primarily a guidance to help reader reason about whether, why and how to apply PE in their own organisation or research activities.

The Toolkit has been mainly conceived for those whose experience with PE is recent, indirect or occasional. Therefore, all the issues have been introduced taking nothing for granted and considering nothing as already known by the reader. Sometime, this makes the text excessively redundant. We apologise in advance for that.

Suggestions, comments and contributions are welcome.