Networks and relationships

Being aware and making the most of your network connections

Networks and relationships play a key role in policy engagement. Not only can your networks and relationships help you to find the right person or organisation to talk to about your research and alert you to opportunities, but they can also offer an unrivalled opportunity for learning about all aspects of the policymaking process.

Building networks and relationships is also important as neither research nor policymaking are linear processes. While you might have completed research to share as evidence, it is likely that you will want to share findings, evidence or ideas at various stages of your research process and at various stages of the policy crafting process. Engaging with policymaking can be an iterative, ongoing process. Having a good network can help to support that. It can help you develop as a policy shaper now and in the future.

Many of you use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, professionally already. As an initial step, this is one tool that can be used to promote research or to highlight work beyond your academic networks, to policymakers, as well as to build your profile as part of a policymaking community, and to develop networks. However, to really bring about change through policy it may be necessary to identify and establish work with other stakeholders who are interested in addressing and solving the same problems as you. This is likely to involve more in-depth and longer term engagements, such as workshops and projects, to establish shared objectives and policy-influencing activities.

The Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN)

The University of Plymouth is a member of UPEN. 
UPEN is a network of 67 UK universities and academic research groups, which aims to use the collective research power of member institutions to influence policymaking and highlight policy engagement opportunities for researchers. Through our institutional membership there are opportunities to engage in knowledge exchange, training, networking, and secondment schemes. We will keep you updated with the latest UPEN news, opportunities and events in our newsletters.