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All SPCR Funded projects are expected to work towards meeting the UK Standards for Public Involvement. The standards are a description of what good public involvement looks like and encourage approaches and behaviours that are the hallmark of good public involvement such as flexibility, sharing and learning and respect for each other. We recommend that researchers familiarise themselves with the standards before commencing planning of their involvement activities.

Several organisations, including the NIHR, have developed comprehensive guidance documents and tools to help researchers plan for, and facilitate, public involvement in their research. Some of these are listed below:

From NIHR:

From SPCR Members:

 From charities:  



Planning for public involvement

Plans for public involvement should be given adequate time and consideration.

The Public Involvement in Research Impact Toolkit (PIRIT) has recently been developed by Cardiff University to help researchers to plan, integrate and evaluate public involvement in research. The Planning Tool provides a checklist of potential public involvement activities across the research pathway.

Below are some further guides to help you think through your public involvement plans.

Who to involve?

Who you choose to involve will depend on the population on which your research is based and the purpose of your involvement plans. You should think through what knowledge and experiences would be most helpful for your research and which individuals or groups are mostly likely to bring these.

Although it is not possible for you to represent your whole target population for public involvement purposes, ensuring you involve individuals or groups from a variety of different backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences is critical. The greater the diversity of people you involve, the greater diversity of insights you will get in return to inform your research.


Involving diverse perspectives in research:


Involving communities in research:


Involving young people:  


Involving people with mental health problems:


 Involving people living with disabilities:

Where to find people to involve?

  • Through your local SPCR Public Involvement Leads most Departments have access to a database of people interested in being involved in Primary Care Research
  • Previous or current public contributors - You can consult your current or past public contributors whether the know people or organisations in their network who might be interested in becoming involved in your research. 
  • Third sector and community organisations - Think about who your research is trying to serve and reach out to relevant local organisations. Note, time is needed to build relationships and trust with these groups before asking them to be involved in your research. 
  • People in Research - This NIHR affiliated website allows researchers to advertise opportunities for involvement to the public. Its reach is UK-wide but tends to be used by members of the public who are more experienced in public involvement
  • GenerationR - Involvement of children and young people 
  • VOICE Global - online platform for public involvement and engagement 
  • Charities – Many have their own patient networks
  • Social media - sharing flyers for your involvement opportunities on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook 





When and how to involve people?

Members of the public should be involved across the who lifecycle of the research process. The image below developed by Louise Ting (Public Contributor) at ARC West, outlines the different ways the public might be involved across the research cycle. 

Public Involvement across the Research Cycle


Involving people in Advisory Groups:

 Involving people on Trial Steering Committees:

Involving people in virtual activities:

Involving people as co-applicants:

Involving people as peer researchers:

Involving people in co-design activities:

Co-producing research:

Participatory approaches to research: 

 The way people are involved may also differ depending on the type of research being conducted and further guidance has been developed

Involving the public in Health Data Research

Involving the public in Systematic Reviews & Evidence Synthesis 


For more methodological inspiration and practical guidance of how to involve people. You can visit the Action Catalogue (an online decision support tool developed as part of the Engage2020 project)