Information for potential public contributors

Please note applications to become a public contributor for the RDS NW are currently closed.

This is information for people interested in being a public contributor with the Research Design Service North West (RDS NW).

We use ‘public’ to mean a variety of people who bring a range of different perspectives.  For example:

  • patients
  • service-users
  • carers
  • family members
  • people from community or voluntary groups

We call all members of the public who get involved ‘public contributors’.


The RDS NW is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). We help health and social care researchers to develop ideas and funding applications. That includes advising researchers on how to develop meaningful public involvement and engagement[1]. The Research Design Service (RDS) is a national service, delivered regionally.  Each region has a public involvement lead and advisers who specialise in public involvement.

We are looking for two public contributors to join the RDS NW. In summary, the public contributors are invited to:

  • provide advice, from a public perspective, on the activities of the RDS NW
  • support and help RDS NW Public Involvement (PI) team to embed and promote public involvement throughout our region

Currently meetings are conducted via online conference software, but any face-to-face meetings that may be take place in the future, are held across the North West in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster. There is some more detailed information below.

If you are interested in the RDS NW PI team or have any questions, please contact Hazel Morbey by email at

Are you the right person for this role?

You need to be interested in:

  • improving the health and social care research process
  • sharing and discussing ideas
  • absorbing new information
  • meeting a variety of people
  • communicating your thoughts to make things better
  • developing your own skills

About the role

What sort of person may be suited to this role?

We are looking for public contributors with:

  • an interest in public involvement in research
  • a willingness to use phone or video conferencing for some meetings – we will be able to offer support with this if needed
  • a willingness to look at some documents between meetings – documents are usually accessed online
  • an interest in and experience of UK health and social care service
  • a willingness to contribute within meetings
  • a willingness to ask questions and challenge people in a  respectful and productive way

How is the RDS NW organised?

  • We have three to four meetings each year – currently we are having meetings online, and face-to-face they take place in and around the region.
  • Members get the agenda and any documents at least one week before each meeting, usually by email.
  • Brief notes of the meeting are written and agreed by everyone who attended.
  • Members are occasionally contacted between meetings for advice.

What is expected of RDS NW members?

Public contributors will be invited to:

  • attend and contribute to meetings, face to face and online
  • provide an independent view and guidance, from a public perspective, on issues related to public involvement and engagement in research
  • support the public involvement in RDS NW projects, advising on the development of web materials or information on public involvement for researchers
  • co-develop documents and resources in partnership with other RDS NW members
  • co-develop public involvement good practice, for example, in line with the national standards for public involvement
  • contribute to the RDS NW strategy for public involvement and engagement
  • keep confidential aspects of the work that are private
  • take part in an annual review to reflect on the role and its requirements

We recognise that people will bring different skills and experiences to the group. We will work with public contributors to best utilise their strengths and ensure that they are supported.

What does the RDS NW membership look like?

  • The RDS NW has PI team meets every quarter and the public contributors would attend the team meetings and they would also attend some Regional Executive Meetings.
  • Each public contributor will be offered a two year term, however as this is a voluntary public involvement post, you are free to step down at any time.
  • We will review membership every two years and new members will be invited to join in stages to ensure continuity and peer support.
  • The current RDS NW PI Lead is Lucy Frith from the University of Liverpool and the specialist team is made up of Hazel Morbey from Lancaster University, Suzanne Parsons from Manchester Voice and Stuart Oultram from the University of Liverpool.

What Support will be offered?

  • Support will be based on the individual needs of each person.
  • Support and guidance can be provided by members of the RDS NW PI team.
  • If you volunteer to help with any specific tasks, you will be offered appropriate guidance, support as needed and learning opportunities as these arise.
  • We will ask everyone to avoid jargon and use plain language during meetings.
  • The team are happy to talk outside of meetings and to take feedback on how best to integrate the perspective of new public contributors into the RDS NW.
  • You can expect not to be the only public contributor involved.
  • Resolution of difficulties or grievances in the public contributor role will be guided by the RDS PI Code of Conduct.


All public contributors will be offered a fee for their time and travel in line with NIHR standard public involvement payments. This will cover time worked at home and to attend meetings, in person or online.


[1] Involvement – where members of the public are actively involved in research projects and in research organisations.
Engagement – where information and knowledge about research is provided and disseminated

RDS NW – Information for potential public contributors – 2021-06-25 – version 1.1

You can download PDF version of the Information for potential public contributors here.