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Principle 4: Describe how it helps

Last updated on 8 Jul 2019

Researchers applying for Research Ethics Committee (REC) review should use our guidance in the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) to provide the right information about public involvement in your study. 

The guidance is integrated throughout the question specific guidance in IRAS. Applicants should click on the ‘i’ information button for Question A14-1 (which is the main question about public involvement). Guidance on public involvement is also included in the information for questions A6-2, A13, A22, A30-1 and A51. 

Our Research Ethics Committees want to know how you are working with the public in your research, because good public involvement is likely to address issues which are relevant to their ethical review.

There is guidance in the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) to make this easier. It asks researchers to describe:

  • Who you are involving and why their experience is relevant, i.e. the range of people you have involved who have experience of the health condition or social care situation being researched, how many of them, and why their experience is relevant to the study

  • How people are being involved, e.g. the tasks, meetings, and activities that people are getting involved with, when, and how often

  • How their involvement is helping to make the study more likely to be relevant and acceptable to people who will take part in it, and to the people it is intended to benefit

  • How you will communicate the study results, both to the people who took part (if they want to know) and to the communities of people the research was intended to benefit or who may be otherwise interested.


Asking the patients or other members of the public you’re working with to review this information in your application may help to check that you’ve described their involvement accurately. 

It may also be helpful for an involved patient or other member of the public to be one of the people who attends the Research Ethics Committee meeting.

There is more information on our resources page.


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