Shape research

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There are a range of opportunities for getting involved in the research that we fund. Involving members of the public in research is important to us to help ensure that the research we fund is:

  • relevant
  • reliable
  • usable for people. 

What is public involvement in research?

Public involvement in research is where our research is carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them.

When we use the term 'public' we use the INVOLVE definition which include patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services. You might find that others use different terms to describe people getting involved such as 'patient and public involvement (PPI)', 'service users', 'lay members' and 'consumers'.

Your involvement in research can help to: 

  • identify what research is important to the NHS and the public
  • influence the way research is planned and carried out
  • improve the experience for people taking part in the research
  • make sure the research is focussed and relevant to members of the public
  • make it more likely that people find out about the research

You can get involved in our research in a variety of ways such as by:

  • reviewing research proposals for the NIHR research programmes
  • sitting on commissioning panels and boards to select research projects for funding
  • working with researchers to plan and design their projects
  • commenting on and developing information such as leaflets or questionnaires
  • joining a research management or advisory group
  • helping to make sure good research is heard about 

Find out how you can get involved in research

View a video of INVOLVE advisory group members talking about what public involvement means to them 

We fund and support INVOLVE to work across the NIHR to ensure that researchers, funders and the public are aware of the value and contribution of public involvement and provide advice and knowledge on the practical aspects of involvement.

Why is public involvement in research important?

Members of the public make a difference to health and social care research by:

  • identifying new topics for research and ensuring that topics are relevant to patients, carers and members of the public
  • making sure that researchers ask the right questions and in a way that the public understand
  • keeping the research on track so that it stays relevant
  • making sure the people being researched are approached in the right way
  • improving the quality of the research by adding another point of view to the design and way that the research is carried out.