RDS Public Involvement Funds

RDS Public Involvement Funds

It is considered good practice to involve members of the public and people with lived experience as early as possible in the research design process. Funding public involvement at the application stage can be challenging. The RDS ‘Public Involvement Funds’ aim to bridge that gap. Funds are available to help facilitate public involvement in the development of research ideas and research applications. Please download the application form here.

General eligibility criteria

  • Projects which are eligible for RDS support
  • Activities funded by the PIF are intended to inform the development of at least one national, peer reviewed research application
  • Lead applicant should be based in the East of England, unless previously agreed
  • Funds should be used to meaningfully involve the public in the development of research ideas, design and/or funding applications
  • There is enough time to undertake the proposed PIF activities before the main funding application is submitted

Funds can be used to:

  • Reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for members of the public (e.g., travel, subsistence, carer costs).
  • This should be paid in line with the local policy of the organisation processing the PIF (this is the research team host institution)
  • Reimburse members of the public for their time. This should be paid in line with the local policy of the organisation processing the PIF (as above)
  • Pay for refreshments at meetings or events
  • Hire a venue external to the researcher’s organisation if this is fully justified (e.g., where an accessible room is not available for free)
  • Pay for materials which the research team would not normally have access to free of charge within their organisation (e.g., play materials for a session with children). If a team requests basic supplies (e.g. stationary, postage etc.) they need to fully justify why they cannot access those materials within their organisation.

Funds cannot normally be used to:

  • Pay for public involvement activities in studies that have already been funded
  • Pay for public involvement activities that are in progress or have been completed
  • Pay for the time, expenses and/or training of someone who is contributing as part of and during their paid employment (e.g., health or care professionals or practitioners)
  • Pay for time, expenses and/or training of a professional member of the research team*
  • Undertake research
  • Hire a venue within the researcher’s own organisation
  • Pay for materials which the researcher can reasonably obtain within their organisation (e.g. printing costs or postage)

*In exceptional circumstances, research team members may be able to claim travel expenses. For example, when they are traveling to see a member of the public at home and travel funds are not available from elsewhere. This must be fully justified and will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the regional RDS Public Involvement Lead.

Embedding the UK Standards in the review of PIF applications
All applications should:

  • Be written in plain language
  • Meet the eligibility criteria (above)
  • Clearly describe how members of the public will be actively involved in developing the research application and the anticipated outcomes of this involvement
  • Outline plans for appropriate feedback (to public contributors) and evaluation (to the RDS) detailing how the involvement has influenced, shaped and/or changed the application
  • Contain clear and appropriate costs
  • We do not recommend one single approach or method for public involvement. However, applicants should justify their chosen approach. Plans should allow active and meaningful public involvement and be appropriate for the members of the public they hope to work with.


RDS-EoE PIF Process

Process for application:

Before completing the application form, please contact your Finance department (host institution) as they will be responsible for raising the invoice. If reimbursing volunteers for their time, you will also need to contact Human Resources for local policies and processes for managing such payments.

Once the application form is completed, send to your RDS lead adviser to read and then forward to rdsc@essex.ac.uk. Following this the RDS regional public involvement lead will arrange for an independent public review and will aim to respond within 2 weeks.

If approved the RDS Central Co-ordinator will arrange for reimbursement of the full amount agreed with your local Finance Contact.

Please contact our Regional Public Involvement Lead for further information.