Submit your expression of interest

Closes 5pm, Wednesday 29th May 2024

Please refer to the guidance below before submitting your expression of interest.

On this page you will find: 

Download a PDF of the guidance for contributors

About this call for contributions

The British Science Association (BSA) is looking for contributors for a new collection of essays and perspectives on the ways that communities and researchers can work together, which will be published in early 2025.

We believe that involving communities in setting research agendas, delivering projects, and shaping the research system can deliver tangible and significant benefit. It leads to better research, fairer institutions, and a society that is more actively engaged. Working alongside others in this area, we are committed to putting communities at the heart of research and innovation. 

In this project, we’re partnering with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to strengthen and share the growing evidence base for the impact that community-engaged research can have. 

By drawing together diverse perspectives from across the community and research landscapes, we’re aiming to produce a broad-ranging collection of personal accounts, experiences and narratives that seek to amplify the voices of those directly engaged in this work. 

We hope that by sharing insightful stories, we can build awareness of, and support for, the work that communities and researchers are doing together.

We hosted a drop-in Zoom session to answer some questions about the project. You can rewatch the session below.

Key details about the expression of interest

We have put together a form which requests a short (max. 300 words) description of your idea and some basic details about you and your background. More information about what we are looking for, the support we can offer, and the selection process we will follow is outlined below. 

If you prefer to submit your idea as an audio file, please contact us.
Visit this link to submit your expression of interest by 5pm on Wednesday 29 May 2024.
Post your questions to the FAQ board

We hosted a drop-in Zoom session to answer questions about the project. Watch it back on YouTube.

If we invite you to submit a full contribution, there will be a 3-month approx. writing window from Monday 15th July to Friday 19th October 2024, followed by a period of review with the final outputs produced early 2025.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for essays, from a wide range of individuals, that offer their personal reflections on the ways that communities and researchers can work together. At this ‘expression of interest’ stage, we are looking for a brief outline of your experiences and ideas.

If you are selected to be part of the publication, your final piece will be a written account of 800 - 1500 words (no more than 2000 words). You may wish to submit an independently written contribution, or one that’s co-authored by one-or-more collaborators.

The contributions should be relevant and accessible to people who are interested in facilitating, delivering, participating in or increasing their support for community-engaged research, including:

  • Community members, groups, organisations and leaders who are interested in bringing research into their work.
  • Researchers, public engagement professionals and university leaders who are interested in adopting this kind of approach.
  • Brokers and intermediaries who work closely with and in support of communities.
  • Organisations who might fund or advocate for community-engaged research. 

Who can contribute?

We’re seeking contributions from anyone who might be involved in, or interested in exploring ways in which communities and researchers can work together, this might include:

  • Community members, organisers and leaders who have been involved in or are connected to research.
  • Community-based organisations, brokers and intermediaries working with and on behalf of community groups.
  • Researchers, academics and university leaders who collaborate closely with communities.
  • Funders, policymakers, infrastructure organisations and membership bodies who support and advocate for communities.

What topics and themes should the essay address?

We’re looking for 'human-centred' stories that share unique perspectives and forward-thinking ideas about communities and research. We’re interested in what you have learned, and we would like to include essays that go beyond simply describing projects and that reflect on the “bigger picture” of collaboration between research communities.  

Your contribution should touch on one of the following broad themes:

  • Approaches – frameworks for embedding truly inclusive research with communities- exploring what works and what doesn't and the crucial impact that roles and capabilities can have on the delivery of this work.
  • Impact and outcomes – why community-engaged research matters, what sort of impact should be prioritised and why, gaps in evidence or evaluation, how community-engaged research drives change in a local area, and what community-engaged research contributes to a thriving / successful / inclusive society.
  • Systems (such as the research funding system, the university system, and the voluntary sector) – the systems that support community-engaged research, those that don’t and those that don’t yet exist. If we could change three things about the “system” in the current form, what would they be?
  • Possible futures – What would an ideal future for community-engaged research look like? If we were to deliver community-engaged research to its fullest potential, how might that impact society? How might it impact the future of research and innovation?

Across all of these themes, we’re interested in hearing how community engagement with research is / could address societal challenges, broaden opportunities for regional investment, and share skills.

What kinds of approaches are we interested in?

We know that there are many ways in which communities and researchers can work in partnership to learn, understand and enable change together. 
In this project, we’re particularly interested in hearing from people who are involved in work that:

  • Centres the voices of people and communities who are seldom heard within the research and innovation system.
  • Values both lived and learned experience.
  • Takes an inclusive approach to community engagement, and respects community knowledge and cultures.
  • Builds relationships and trust.
  • Enables individual and collective reflective practice.
  • Invests for the long-term, and aims to create change for the benefit of communities.

Approaches might include: 

  • Participatory research,
  • research that is co-created with communities,
  • community-led research,
  • engaged research, and
  • public involvement (including public patient involvement).

However, this essay collection will not cover:

  • Community consultation,
  • research on communities as ‘subjects’,
  • science communication activities without a specific community benefit,
  • classroom activities and ‘STEM enrichment’ (e.g. STEM clubs), or
  • citizen science where shared benefit with community participants is limited.   

What’s the process for selection of contributions?

Visit this link to submit your expression of interest

The form requests a short (max. 300 words) description of your idea and some basic details about you and your background.
We also ask that you complete a short, optional and anonymous survey that will help us with our equality, diversity and inclusion monitoring.
We collect this data so that we can ensure we attract as diverse a pool of contributions as possible. We will not use the data to assess the submissions but will instead use it to adjust our promotion of the open call and seek submissions from groups who are underrepresented.


Open call launched Wednesday 8 May

Drop-in Zoom session – Q&A for potential contributors

Wednesday 15 May, 2pm – 3pm

Rewatch the session on YouTube

Deadline for expressions of interest 5pm, Wednesday 29 May
Notification of shortlisting decision By Friday 14 June
Follow-up discussions with shortlisted contributors Between 17 June and 5 July
Final selection of contributors By Friday 12 July

We aim to be in touch by Friday 14th June to let you know if we'd like to follow up your expression of interest.  

What happens if your idea is selected?

Should your idea be selected, we'll arrange a follow-up discussion with you so that we can mutually explore your idea in further depth and discuss how we might best work together. If there are people who submit similar ideas, we might invite them to come together at this stage to collaborate as co-authors.

Follow-up discussions will take place between Monday 17th June and Friday 5th July.

If we invite you to submit a full contribution, there will be a 3-month approx. writing window from Monday 15th July to Friday 19th October 2024, followed by a period of review with the final outputs produced early 2025.

The support we will offer if your contribution is selected

Support with writing

You don't need to be a confident writer to be part of this project. We'll provide online support sessions to those who want or need them. This could involve:

  • Interviewing you and ghost-writing elements to help you get started.
  • Running content planning sessions to help you structure your ideas.
  • Editing and providing feedback.

Financial support 

We want to make sure people's contributions are valued fairly, therefore we have a flexible budget to offer financial support for people who depend on this to make participation possible – this might include those in freelance roles, people who are not currently in salaried employment, people who need to cover the cost of childcare or those in a role that would not support their involvement. We expect to be able to offer between £250 and £1500 dependent on the scope of your involvement and the extent of the support you require. We’ll discuss any requirements with you in more detail during the shortlisting process. 

Questions and further information

We’ll be holding a drop-in session on Zoom on Wednesday 15th May, 2pm–3pm to answer any questions you might have about this open call or the wider project. The session will be recorded and posted on our website after it takes place – click here to join the session.

We’ve also set up an FAQ board (opens in new tab) where your questions will be answered by the team at the British Science Association and shared with others interested in participating in the project.

Useful links

Contact us

If you’d like to contact us in person about any of the information above, please email: Carolyn Bishop, Partnerships and Advocacy Manager, [email protected] or telephone: 07811 756 878