Negotiated Boundaries

The Role of Social Scientists in Public Engagement with Science and Technology.

A British Academy Small Research grant funded this project which was carried out within the Science Communication Unit.

About the project

Negotiated Boundaries: The Role of Social Scientists in Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST) is a project which was funded by the British Academy and carried out by Dr Clare Wilkinson, a social scientist who works in the Science Communication Unit.

The aim of the project was to explore issues of identity and role when social scientists participate in the many public engagements with science and technology activities which occur across the UK. The project ran from January 2010 - December 2010.


The research shed light on the recent push for greater public engagement with social science, exploring any additional dimensions that are likely to impact when social scientists engage about their academic work. The project included a systematic literature review, a series of interviews with key stakeholders in the field and the dissemination of project findings.

Following the literature review stage, 21 interviews with social scientists were carried out during the Summer of 2010 with the assistance of Dr Margarida Sardo. The analysis of the interview data is now complete and we are currently in the process of writing up the findings for journal publication.

You can find out more about the project, methods and initial findings in this short preliminary project report (PDF).


The project findings were disseminated at a range of conferences in 2010, including Engage 2010, and further findings were presented at the British Sociological Association Annual Conference in April 2011.

Find out more

If you would like additional information about this project or to submit your views, please email Clare Wilkinson at or call her on +44 (0)117 32 82146.