BLOG - Public engagement through our public panel

This week our Impact and Knowledge Exchange Manager, Harriet Baird, shares her experiences of running the ADR Scotland public panel and why it’s so important to the work we do.

I’ve been running our public panel since 2019 and in that time we’ve moved online during the pandemic and expanded our membership. It’s been a learning curve running a public panel and a huge privilege. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt so far;

  • Running a panel online works. Due to the pandemic we moved to an online model and we haven’t looked back. It really helps to enable and increase participation. It reduces the amount of time and travel required to take part, which is really helpful for the people who volunteer to be part of the panel. Being online helps members communicate in different ways as well. I definitely feel there’s a time and place for meeting in person too so am looking to find ways to do this again in 2023.
  • It brings completely new perspectives to our work and approaches. Even the smallest things like ‘why do you use that word, would this be better?’ mean that we can adapt what we are doing, re-frame things and ensure our work is accessible and clear. In every session I run, I am always surprised by what our panel raise, debate and consider and the new insights it gives our researchers.
  • It’s such a vital part of what we do with data. It’s all our data. We may have many well-established and robust processes towards security, such as the 5 Safes, but we can always do more to involve the public in our work, help them to understand what we do and communicate it more widely and effectively. Public good is a core of ADR UK’s mission and we have numerous ways in which we engage with the public. Our public panel here in Scotland serves as a reminder for me every quarter that taking the time to have a meaningful dialogue is hugely beneficial to both sides.

I’d like to end with some words from one of our wonderful public panel members, Nigel:

The public panel has a wide range of backgrounds and robustly challenges research projects. Despite the meeting being held online, they are very lively. All challenges are heard and discussed in a professional manner. The meetings are very varied which makes attendance more enjoyable, exploring a wide range of projects from policing and justice to health and care. I would recommend this to anyone interested in helping the good use of data.

 If you are interested in finding out more or wish to join our public panel, please contact Harriet Baird.

This article was published on 13 Oct 2022

Categories and tags


Harriet Baird