Building Research Partnerships

By Jack Nunn and Margaret Grayson

Building Research Partnerships is an internationally recognised way of working that has been developed by Macmillan, the National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN, England), the Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland) and the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research Clinical Research Centre (Wales).

It is a free one-day learning event for the public and professionals involved in health and social care research and helps support public involvement in every stage of the research cycle by using interactive activities and facilitated discussions. We have worked with partner organisations across three countries in the UK to train facilitators to use our resources to run events, and we want to share our resources and let others build on our work. 

We recently conducted an impact survey and over 98% of participants said that involving the public in their research had made a difference or had an impact, 93% of professionals said that as a result of attending their understanding of how to involve the public in research had increased, and 73% of the public who attended said their involvement in research had increased since attending the course.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network will be building on this and adopting Macmillan’s Building Research Partnerships approach, which has been supporting public involvement in research across the UK since 2007. The Clinical Research Network will be using this successful model to support public involvement across the Network, with programme resources relevant to any type of health and social research. To find out more about this work please contact Tom Newbound:

You can learn more about Building Research Partnerships and download the free resources here:

In the meantime, here are some words from Margaret, who attended an event in 2012 and is now training other facilitators.

Building Research Partnerships – a personal reflection

In August 2012, as a public involvement representative, I attended the first Building Research Partnerships Workshop held in Northern Ireland under the auspices of Public Health Agency Research and Development, Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Centre and Macmillan. At the start of the day I was not sure what to expect; at the end of the day my conclusion was that it was a brilliant workshop facilitated by Derek Stewart and Jack Nunn. The day was an interactive learning experience (it was fun!) for myself as a lay person, meeting with professional researchers and exploring how we can partner and work together at every stage of the research cycle, making public involvement more than a tick box exercise.

At the close of the workshop the opportunity was offered to consider being trained as a facilitator. I took up this opportunity as I believe the course is of immense value as a starting point for public / professional partnership in research – bringing the unique patient / carer experience of a disease together with the researcher’s expertise to ensure that research is of value to both patients and the NHS. During my training as an associate facilitator my first experience of being responsible for a session was a bit daunting but really enjoyable through the support and encouragement of Derek and Jack. My training finished in 2013 and I am now involved with training two more facilitators. As a facilitator I look forward to Building Research Partnerships events, as each brings together a unique group of lay people and professionals.

If you are a lay person interested in being involved in research or a researcher within any area of health or social care please take the opportunity to be part of a workshop. You will find it a good and valuable use of your time!



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