Briefing note five: Resource public involvement in research

Resource public involvement in research

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 Any INVOLVE documents referring to the payment of involvement fees may now be out of date and are pending a review during 2020.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.

Think about how you resource public involvement both in terms of budget and the additional time required to involve the public in your research.

Some research funders, such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will actively encourage and expect public involvement to be adequately costed in research proposals. It is very difficult to obtain funding for public involvement later if it has not been built into your research grant application. Use our Involvement cost calculator to help you plan your budget.

Costs will differ depending on how you are involving people in your research and who you are involving. In preparing your budget you might need to take account of the following:

  • travel and subsistence expenses
  • childcare and carer costs
  • costs for personal assistants
  • payment for time and work undertaken
  • hire of accessible venues
  • additional support such as an independent facilitator
  • refreshment costs
  • hotel accommodation costs
  • translation and interpretation costs
  • training and support
  • administrative support
  • telephone, photocopying and postage
  • attendance at conferences and events
  • writing publications and journal articles.

It is good practice to offer payment whenever possible to the members of the public you involve in your research. However, receiving payment or a fee can have implications for people receiving any form of benefit. It is very important that people receiving state benefits get expert advice prior to accepting payment.

Find out more about payment:

To keep up to date with payment issues please visit the payment and public involvement in research page on the INVOLVE website

Budgeting for involvement: a practical guide and cost calculator to plan and budget for public involvement in your research (Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) and INVOLVE 2013)

Payment for involvement: a guide for making payment to members of the public actively involved in NHS, public health and social care research (INVOLVE 2010)

What you need to know about payment: an introductory guide for members of the public who are considering active involvement in NHS, public health or social care research (INVOLVE 2011)

Involving members of the public in your research will take additional time and this needs to be allowed for. The time might be in respect of additional training and support, negotiation and discussion of roles and research methods, arrangement of meetings at suitable dates and venues or simply for reassurance and progress reporting.