Communication & Engagement Plan for your PhD

I’ve started a new job recently and the project I’m working on has a ‘Communication & Engagement Plan’



By 東宝 Create a screenshot by Ogiyoshisan (Last edited July 17, 2013) (Screenshot) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Available here

It clearly lays out key messages, target audiences, types of communication and/or engagement & then a reporting section for what’s been done in the past 6 months. It triggered memories for me of the Postgraduate Retreat that I attended in the 1st year of PhD and one of the shared resources on a ‘Change Creation Communication Tool’ –

I think this is an important step in your PhD and I regret that I didn’t at least start outlining how  I planned to communicate my research and with whom – at the time (1st year) – I felt like I would have too many blanks that I couldn’t complete, though now I see that I could have worked on completing this over my PhD journey. 

I’m working on being to share the full tool with you but in the interim here are some questions and you could create your own tool (thats means make a table and fill it in)

  • What do you imagine will be the Key Messages from your PhD?  Some exercises to help you develop key messages including * preparing your elevator speech for the VC (you’ve got 3 minutes in the elevator with the Vice-Chancellor of your uni- what do you tell him/her?) * pre-answering your own Research Questions * make up a mock Media Release for your research * 
  • Who are your key audiences and / or stakeholders? This could include academics, practitioners, government bodies, local organisations, local communities – the more you can break down to smaller niche ‘categories’ the easier it will be to think through latter steps.  Try to use specific names (e.g. not just “local government” but  “Great Rivers Local Government Council”)
  •  What types of communication or engagement fit best per audience or stakeholder? Types of communication include peer-reviewed journal article, opinion piece, general interest article, open-access publication, face-to-face meeting, conference presentation, poster, seminar, participation in a panel, radio interview, social media, blog, website, email…you get the picture
  • Now – start tracking what you are doing – what key messages via what types of communication and to whom are you communicating? For example, if you get invited to a present internally in your faculty you could track it like this
  • Date: xxxxx Key Message:  XY Audience: peer students Communication Type: presentation Note to self:  audience very sceptical about my methodology- need to think of ways to better explain htis.  




This is good for future job applications and for teaching yourself to become a great communicator about your research.


About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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1 Response to Communication & Engagement Plan for your PhD

  1. Pingback: Communication & Engagement Plan for your PhD: some tools | Qualitative PhD Research

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