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PEDRI publishes report into public engagement in data research

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Research Data Scotland

22 Aug 2023

In January, PEDRI (Public Engagement in Data Research Initiative) conducted a survey to find out what resources are needed to help public engagement professionals work effectively with the public and researchers.

On 14 August, after a thorough review and analysis of the responses, PEDRI published the full report alongside an easy-read version.

PEDRI is a sector-wide partnership bringing together organisations who work with data and statistics to generate insights that can inform policy and practice. The goal is to collaborate on establishing and driving forward best practice for public involvement and engagement with data research, to bring the views of the public to policymakers and data holders in a more meaningful way.

The partnership is a collaboration between and Research Data Scotland, Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK), Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), the Office for National Statistics, Cancer Research UK, Data and Analytics Research Environments UK (DARE UK), NHS England and the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre.

From December 2022 to January 2023, the survey received 123 responses from members of the public, researchers, and Public Involvement and Engagement (PIE) professionals across the UK. Analysis of the responses identified a lack of existing resources for researchers, public and PIE professionals and some responders not being aware of existing resources. The report suggests that there is a shared appetite amongst PIE professionals, the public and researchers for a centralised website “to signpost the public to for simple explainers” to help define key concepts such as Trusted Research Environments and to promote data literacy.

The survey also highlights both the challenges and desires for plain language description of data research, with one researcher noting: “Sometimes it is difficult not to use technical jargon and describe findings in a simple to understand way”. The report recommends that members of the public should be involved in creating additional targeted resources, and notes that where technical language is required, researchers and PIE professionals should provide explanations and ensure that complex terms are understood by all public members.

Additionally, the report recommends that researchers and PIE professionals should be aware of the needs of their audience and adapt resources to the needs and different learning styles of public contributors. The report emphasises the importance of understanding the public’s preferred formats for resources, highlighting that while narrated videos and recorded presentations are of some use, members of the public seemed to prefer interactive mediums with the opportunity to ask questions.

“Good resources will help us to ensure transparency within the data landscape”

Katie Oldfield, Public Engagement Manager

Katie Oldfield, Research Data Scotland Public Engagement Manager said, “We welcome the findings of this survey and are incredibly grateful to everyone who participated. The report will be a valuable resource to inform our work and help us ensure that the needs and desires of the public and researchers are at the forefront of our efforts.

“As the report highlights, there is an opportunity for us to create targeted resources which can be widely and easily accessed by the public, researchers, and other PIE professionals. Good resources will help us to ensure transparency within the data landscape and encourage a wider range of people to learn more about data, get involved and have their say.”

Find out more abut RDS's public engagement work.

Download the easy-read report

The easy-read report uses easier words and pictures.

Easy-read report

Download the full report

The full PEDRI report includes a detailed breakdown of the survey and its findings.

Full report

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