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It is important to recognise that researchers will need training about public involvement in research. 

Junior researchers need training about public involvement in the same way as they need training about any other aspect of research – it can usefully be integrated into standard research training either as individual sessions (see case study one) or, for those most interested, postgraduate accredited courses (see case study two and case study three). 

Senior researchers may benefit from training because public involvement is relatively new and they may have missed opportunities for training earlier in their career. Understanding involvement will help them support involvement across their research group and support their junior colleagues who are developing involvement in research projects. Taking part in short training courses may be helpful, such as the Compass Masterclass in consumer involvement or the one-day workshops described in case study one and case study four

Training is particularly useful for researchers at key stages in their careers and/or at different stages of the research cycle (see Compass report) including when: 

  • writing grant applications – particularly when applying to funders who require information about plans for public involvement in research proposals 
  • moving to a new workplace – incorporating public involvement into an induction package for new research staff will help people to find out about the standards of good practice in their new organisation, what involvement is happening locally, who is doing it and what training / support is available 
  • individuals are promoted and acquire more personal responsibility for planning and managing involvement.

Preparing researchers for public involvement should: 

  • be clearly linked to public involvement, that is where members of the public are actively involved in research projects and research organisations (not recruitment of patients or members of the public as participants in research or raising awareness of research, sharing knowledge or engaging with the public) 
  • develop understanding that public involvement can be a solution to some practical problems in research – rather than a ‘must do’ or ‘add-on’ to heavy workloads
  • explicitly recognise and acknowledge the relevant skills and experience they may already have, in addition to those acquired through their professional training
  • provide opportunities to develop their experience, skills and knowledge in a way that is tailored and linked to their role 
  • be matched to their role and responsibilities for public involvement, for example training and support is essential for those who have the lead responsibility for involvement
  • address the practical knowledge and core skills required to work with people, for example facilitation skills and managing group discussions
  • develop knowledge and understanding about the benefits and barriers to involvement
  • provide opportunities to discuss further training and support needs.