European Commonwealth ?

Comparative public law in Europe

Challenges and questions when designing an engagement strategy with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a Barsea project

Participants in the Barsea project “Comparative Public Law and European Legal identity” were asked to identify the main challenges and questions they had when they sought to elaborate their engagement strategies. Their answers have been collected and presented here as they map very well the different potential stages of one’s strategic thinking about engagement with non-academic actors. Their answers have been slightly rephrased to sharpen convergences or to suggest some possible way forward. We thought that having these questions in mind may be useful for other researchers as well. If you want to share your own challenges or ideas for approaching these questions, please do contact us here.

Whom to include?

  1. Who is actually involved in the decision-making process (behind the doors of government)
  1. How to gain sufficient access to 1) Relevant non-academic actors to gain the relevant information to inform the research; 2) Relevant non-academic actors to be in a position to make change?
  1. How far / which media would need to be included in the engagement process ?


Technical issues

  • Resistance

(how to actually get the non-academic actors interested in our research – make them see the interest of what we are doing for them?)

  1. How to convince non-academic actors to participate in our research process?
  1. How to frame our research question in an interesting way for non-academic actors?
  1. How to overcome scepticism / resistance by non-academic actors?
  1. How to avoid being patronizing?
  1. Implementation in practice of the changes and reforms recommended/suggested?
  1. How proactive do we need to be to reaching out to non-academic actors ?


  • Communication
  1. How to deal with different backgrounds of non-academic actors?
  1. How to communicate/convey highly technical questions to non-academic actors?
  1. How to make our research question and recommendations “understandable” for non-academic actors?
  1. How to meet / reach them physically? Is there any specific “etiquette” in getting in touch with some non-academic actors? can we just call them?
  1. Do we know the preferred ways in which various non-academic actors may want to engage with academics? eg. reports, social media (twitter), blogs, briefing papers, professional newsletter, oral communication (like a elevator pitch)?
  1. How to use social media to reach out to non-academic actors?


  • Time – budget
  1. Practical engagement throughout the whole duration of a project (despite fluctuation in HR, budget, changes of interest in the audience, work load etc.)
  1. How to get appropriate funding for this kind of research /approach?


Specific events – change in the audience / interlocutors

  1. Influence of Brexit on the administration in charge of a specific policy?
  2. More general influence of Brexit on how to engage with non-academic actors at EU level? Do we have any ideas about how the EU engages with researchers from the USA, from EEA countries, Switzerland?


Academic rigor / foundations

  1. How to bridge practice/academic gap (how to make ready-use knowledge and at the same time theoretical foundation)?
  1. How to deal with social sciences questions when one has a law background? (=> how to formulate research question)
  1. How to find the “right” balance between research and engagement?


Political aspects

  1. Political sensitivity of the questions / recommendations: how to deal with this?
  1. How to deal with conflicts between non-academic actors?



  1. In a classic sense (English, German, Italian) but also in terms of the the cultural / economic / political differences across systems


Yseult Marique, Essex Law School

October 2016

(Suggested citation: Y.Marique, “Challenges and questions when designing an engagement strategy with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a Barsea project” available at


One comment on “Challenges and questions when designing an engagement strategy with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a Barsea project

  1. Pingback: Report – First workshop – Comparative public law and European Legal Identity – Opportunities and Challenges when engaging with non-academic actors | European Commonwealth ?

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2016 by in Barsea project, Engagement with non academic actors, Uncategorized.
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