Relevant people should be involved in as many aspects of the study as is feasible, productive and appropriate to the research, and at the right times.
Involving people well means involving them as early as possible; plan for involvement right from the beginning of your project, and for how and when you will communicate with the people you’re working with. It may be helpful to have a nominated contact person on the research team with whom involved people can keep in touch.
There are a lot of different ways that you can involve people in your research; the list below summarises some of these. The resources page links to examples of how people have put these into practice.
Before the research begins
- identifying and prioritising research questions and outcome measures which are meaningful and relevant to the people the research is intended to benefit
- shaping the research methods and commenting on the feasibility of the research design, including the burden placed on research participants and the levels of risk/distress that they might be exposed to – helping to identify potential emotional or practical obstacles for participants. For example, advising on the recruitment process, e.g. how and when to approach potential participants
- contributing to grant applications or regulatory submissions and/or attending the Research Ethics Committee meeting to help explain how and why the study design is likely to be acceptable to participants
- commenting on or developing participant information sheets and other documents which are used to communicate with prospective research participants so that they will be able to understand the study and be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to take part
- working on plain English research summaries
- developing and providing training to staff.
During the research
- being part of research advisory groups and steering groups
- undertaking research projects, e.g. as a co-investigator, co-facilitating focus groups, or administering questionnaires.
After the research has ended
- contributing towards how the study results are disseminated, either by advising researchers, presenting at conferences, or via social media.
Best practice in public involvement requires investing in relationships with the people whose experience is relevant to your research. It is important that there are shared expectations of what the role of involved people will be. Consider carefully where, when, and how you will work together so that the involvement is meaningful.
Our resources page include links to training and guidance both for researchers and for members of the public. Good communication is key to establishing and maintaining a respectful, effective partnership, and to resolving any issues that arise during the research journey.