New guidance launched for public co-applicants in research

Last updated on 30 Jan 2019

Increasing numbers of public contributors are helping to shape and deliver health and social care research, and there has been a rise in the number of public co-applicants joining research teams.

Involving members of the public in research design and development has been shown to have a positive effect on projects by improving the quality and relevance of research. However, until now there has been no guidance, either for researchers or for people involved, about what it means to be a co-applicant.

Now new guidance co-developed by NIHR-INVOLVE, the NHS R&D Forum and the Health Research Authority, has been launched to help support members of the public who are co-applicants on research grants and ensure that their contribution is valuable and rewarding.


“There has been a steady rise in the amount of public involvement in health and social care research over recent years and with it many people have taken on ever increasing levels of responsibility in research teams.

A lack of guidance has led to some instances of people being named on grant applications without their role being properly agreed. This new guidance now makes the role and responsibilities of co-applicants clear to everyone involved.

I think this will be an invaluable resource to researchers and public contributors alike. It will help to take the involvement of the public in health and social care research yet another important step forward towards being usual practice.”

– Jim Elliott, Public Involvement Lead, Health Research Authority

The new guidance provides useful information on everything from payment and budgeting, to contracts and where to find more support. There is also specific information for researchers and research staff wanting to include public co-applicants in a study.

“Have you ever heard of a public co-applicant?  What would you do in the role?  What would your responsibilities be?  Many of us have been co-applicants in research without really understanding what it means.  This guidance gives you the facts, enabling you to make an informed decision as to whether the co-applicant role is good for you."

- Amander Wellings, co-author of the new Public Co-Applicants guidance
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