The Portal to the Public Network supports sites as they seek to build their knowledge of best practices and effective tools. This includes a set of member-created resources which can be accessed and shared between institutions. Members are able to sign in to the member pages of this website. These pages provide access to the set of concepts in the guiding framework, the contents of the Implementation Manual, and other documents created by members. All of these resources help create a vibrant and active community which encourages collaboration and innovation.

Implementation Manual

Member institutions use the Portal to the Public Implementation Manual as a guide to creating a Portal to the Public program at their institution. The Implementation Manual was created to share the most important results from the development and dissemination phases of the initial project. It represents the experiences of the first eight member sites and is supported by research and evaluation results.

Manual Contents

The seven chapters in the manual are designed around the guiding framework and generally describe the order in which most of the planning and implementation should take place. The chapters guide you through the process of developing the major elements required for successful face-to-face interactions between scientists and the public.

Following the chapters, there is a set of appendices containing items such as useful references, planning documents and program materials, some of which are included below. It also includes the full set of professional development activities and workshops created by the original members.


Guiding Framework

The guiding framework is a structured set of concepts designed to help when developing a new Portal to the Public program at an institution. It is intended to be flexible, giving each institution that adopts it the ability to design and scale specific approaches and strategies to best suit their vision, community, and overall goals. New institutions joining the network go through a conceptual planning process to create a guiding framework unique to their institution's informal learning environment.

PD catalog

Professional Development

The Catalog of Professional Development Elements includes detailed procedures for professional development activities and sample workshop agendas created by member institutions. The catalog is intended to be a practical guide to creating and facilitating professional development experiences for scientists, and is included in the manual.


Portal to the Public has made significant contributions to the Informal Science Education field's understanding of how scientists and ISE institutions can collaborate to achieve common goals related to public engagement with science. Below are some of the publications produced during the original NSF grant period (2007-2012), including meeting reports, as well as research and evaluation findings. Most recently, the Summative Evaluation Report was completed on the IMLS Portal to the Public Network project (2011-2013) that extends the original NSF grant and disseminates the PoP framework and philosophy to ISE institutions across the country.

Recent Publications

IMLS Summative Evaluation Report Cover

Summative Evaluation Report: Portal to the Public Network (January 2014)

by Angie Ong, Spotlight Impact

The purpose of this summative evaluation was to examine the extent to which: Informal Science Education (ISE) museum professionals internalize and apply the PoP philosophy; the extent to which ISE museum professionals participate in the PoP Network; the extent to which scientists increase their understanding of inquiry-based learning and confidence level for interacting with the public; and the extent to which visitors increase their awareness of local research and researchers.

Portal to the Public Network Summative Evaluation Report (full report, 4MB PDF)

Portal to the Public Network Executive Summary (key findings, 634 KB)


Summative Evaluation: Comparative Case Studies of Implementation at Five Sites (November 2011)

by Carey Tisdal, Tisdal Consulting

The purpose of this summative evaluation was to examine the PoP dissemination strategy, guiding framework, materials, and approaches in supporting effective implementation of the program at its first dissemination sites.

Tisdal Summative Evaluation Report (full report, 15 MB PDF)

Tisdal Executive Summary (key findings, 2 MB PDF)

synthesis Cover 2

The Path Forward: Lessons Learned and Recommendations from the Portal to the Public Second Synthesis Meeting (September 2010)

by Dennis Schatz and Lauren Russell

In 2010, the Portal to the Public leadership convened a second Synthesis Meeting of experts and stakeholders to determine how best to disseminate and improve the program. While many of the findings and recommendations in this article are directed specifically to the Portal to the Public effort, there are implications which apply to the broader field of public engagement with science.

The Path Forward (full report, 3.0 MB PDF)

Synthesis Cover 1

Face-To-Face with Scientists: Exploring the Features of Face-to-Face Interactions between Scientists and Public Audiences (January 2008)

by Dennis Schatz and Lauren Russell

Portal to the Public partners convened a first synthesis meeting of experts and stakeholders in 2008 to help guide the development of the project. The meeting's goal was to facilitate in-depth conversations to identify current initiatives, best practices, and future directions around face-to-face interactions between scientists and public audiences.

Face-to-Face With Scientists (full report, 3.5 MB PDF)

Face-to-Face With Scientists (summary of key findings, 1.8 MB PDF)