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Areas of Research Interest: Summary Paper 

This paper outlines a summary of themes found in departmental Areas of Research Interests in the UK Government, as well as opportunities for academic-policy engagement. 

Enabling Universities to Engage Better in their Place: An Outline Toolkit

This Toolkit sees Place from various stakeholder perspectives and sets out the findings of a UPEN survey on Place, discussing what works for HEIs in terms of maximising best practice. The Toolkit collates member responses as a practical aid to support HEIs considering enhancing their engagement with the Place agenda and policy.

Surfacing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Within Academic-Policy Engagement

This report synthesises the current state of play of equity, diversity, and inclusion in academic-policy engagement. Drawing on a survey of member institutions, the report surfaces challenges to adopting inclusive approaches to academic-policy engagement, and sets out recommendations for UPEN members, research funders, knowledge brokers, and policy professionals. Through signalling to the policy arena the importance of EDI within all parts of the engagement ecosystem, the report aims to spark discussion of how to embed EDI into agendas going forward.

Opening Up Parliament: 
Barriers to Engagement and Participatory Potential - What Academics Think

This report, based on a survey of 790 UK academics provides an insight into their experiences of engaging with UK Parliament. The report highlights barriers to participation, what measures could encourage participation as well as key reccomendations for Parliament, universities and research funders.

Engaging with UK Government Areas of Research Interest: 
learning and insights from the Universities Policy Engagement Network

This report provides an overview of UPEN members' experiences of working with government departments on their Areas of Research Interest (ARI). The report highlights what’s worked well, what could be improved and what UPEN’s future role could be.

Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) are produced by government departments to provide information about the main research questions they are facing. Departmental ARIs, found on here, can also be useful to understand departmental research and development strategies. They aim to improve how government departments work with evidence from academia to inform policy and decision-making. The intention is that policymaking can be better informed by giving researchers the opportunity to contribute their research evidence, knowledge, and expertise during policy development.


Rebuilding a Resilient Britain ARIs

The Rebuilding a Resilient Britain programme was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, to address aspect of Britain's recovery from the pandemic over the medium-to long-term.

ESRC/ARI Fellows Professor Annette Boaz and Dr Kathryn Oliver, funded by ESRC and working with the Government Office for Science ARI team and with government departmental Chief Scientific Advisers, identified a set of topics and themes based on existing departmental ARIs that should be addressed as a priority. These ARIs were divided into 9 themes, which were addressed by 9 Working Groups consisting of researchers, funding bodies and policy makers.

Each Working Group produced a report, identifying existing evidence, gaps in the evidence base, and key messages around the ARIs (note that the reports are the views of the working group members and are not indicative of government policy). These are linked below.

The reports have been made available online as a resource for academics, policy makers and funders interested in what the groups collated on what is already known; and where the current research gaps seem to be on 9 topics of cross cutting interesting to government departments.

ARIs were identified by UPEN members as a key area of focus for the network in 2019. In the Rebuilding a Resilient Britain programme of work, UPEN were actively engaged in the identification of expertise.