The different types of support that could be useful to researchers and members of the public include:
Project management / supervision. Reviewing project progress and addressing issues arising from the research will be relevant to all research team members irrespective of their background.
Personal / professional development – to review people’s progress and performance and provide positive feedback and encouragement and / or to see if they need any additional pointers to further develop their skills. For example, members of the public who take on research roles such as peer interviewing, may need feedback and guidance when they first put their skills into practice. Researchers may benefit from the support of a public involvement manager when they first start involving members of the public in their research, to reassure them that they are following best practice.
Practical support – to help people to familiarise themselves with a new research environment, for example all research team members might need help with finding their way around a new location or building. Members of the public may need support with meeting their practical needs, such as payment of fees and expenses, making travel arrangements, parking, and accessing childcare.
Financial advice. Paying members of the public for their involvement may, for example, have an impact on their benefits or may mean they have to register as self-employed. Researchers and members of the public may need advice on how to manage payment.
Please note that benefits guidance and tax legislation been subject to considerable change/reinterpretation since 2019. Any INVOLVE documents referring to the payment of involvement fees may now be out of date and are pending a review during 2020. INVOLVE’s guidance should not be substituted for professional advice, and INVOLVE accepts no liability for decisions or actions taken as a result of its guidance. You are always recommended to take your own tax, finance or legal advice.
Emotional / psychological support – to help people to cope with any distress that arises as a direct consequence of being involved in research, for example if they become upset after discussing a sensitive or emotional topic, or from hearing about other people’s bad experiences, or from returning to an environment that has been traumatic in the past. Some people may also be challenged by others about the benefits of public involvement in research and may be helped by being prepared to cope with personal or professional criticism. Emotional / psychological support is often as relevant to researchers as it is to involved members of the public.
On-the-job support – to allow people to let off steam or raise any concerns after a difficult meeting or frustrating experience.
Some of these types of support can be provided through informal mechanisms that develop organically as colleagues start to work together and form a team. Others may be better provided through a more formal approach that will need to be properly costed and resourced.
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