Public involvement fund top tips

The public involvement fund (PIF) enables involvement of members of the public in the development of research ideas and grant applications. The RDS NW public involvement team, who review and offer feedback on applications, give their top tips to maximise the benefit of your planned activities.

Involve people early on

Don’t wait until your research proposal is fully formed before involving the public. As long as you are in receipt of advice from RDS NW, you can apply for public involvement funding (PIF) even when your research idea is at a very early stage. Public contributors can help to develop and refine the research focus and importantly offer feedback on priorities or questions deemed most relevant from a public or patient perspective.

Clarify the purpose

Which public representatives will you approach and why? For example, are you looking for input on research priority setting or advice on ethical considerations from a public perspective? Can the PIF activity help think through options for involvement during the research itself e.g. to discuss how a lay advisory group might function.

Consider ongoing plans

Public contributors will be taking part in your public involvement activity because they are genuinely interested in the research or the issues it will address. Explain in your application how you plan to notify those contributing, of the outcome of the bid, and consider if there are ongoing opportunities for people to get involved in there search should your project be successful.

Check your budget

Much of the feedback provided on applications relates to a lack of specificity. In submitting your application, provide a breakdown about what the funds will be used for. Common categories for costings include travel of attendees, thank you payments (fees or vouchers), room hire and/or catering. All out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the public such as travel and carer costs should be covered in your budget. Before submitting your application, proof read the form to ensure the costs match the total requested!

Speak to your RDS adviser

Finally, discuss your proposed application with your adviser before submitting it. They can advise on whether the activity is feasible in the time available to submission and can access specialised advice to support your ongoing plans for involving the public research should your project be successful.

Detail the activity

As reviewers, we often go back to applicants to ask for additional clarification about the activity planned. If you are running an event, for example, who will be facilitating this and do they/you have the necessary experience in delivering public involvement activities? If you are new to public involvement, consider involving someone more experienced to provide support. In designing the activity, is sufficient time built into the programme to enable opportunity for discussion? Are there any ethical risks or accessibility issues to consider depending on the group involved e.g. young people, stroke survivors?

Looking to apply for public involvement funding?

An application form is available from the RDS NW Coordinating Office: rds-nw@lancaster.ac.uk.

Please note that the Public Involvement Fund is available to those who are registered with the RDS NW for advice.

If you are not in receipt of advice for your project and would like advice on any aspect of research design then you can request advice here. Please note that eligibility criteria apply.