Research Design Service South East

Public Involvement Fund Guidance Notes

Community motif

It is best practice to involve members of the public as early as possible in the research design process and meaningful patient and public involvement is key to obtaining National Institute for Health Research grant funding.

The Public Involvement Fund supports researchers with meaningful public involvement and the costs involved, at the design stage of research. Researchers may apply for up to £300. However, in exceptional circumstances, the RDS-SE will consider applications up to £400.

The money can be used for:

  • The costs of running public involvement meeting(s)
    • Refreshments
    • Carer / childcare costs
    • Training that cannot be provided by the RDS
    • Postage & publicity for public involvement
    • Venue hire
  • Providing reimbursement for time and travel to public contributors

The money cannot be used for:

  • NHS or academic researcher’s time or expenses
  • A public involvement activity that has already taken place before a PIF award has or can be been granted.
  • Public involvement as part of the research project (this should be requested in the relevant NIHR application/national funding programme)

Public involvement activities can take different forms such as a discussion panel, one-to-one conversation or small advisory group (such as from one family). Involving patients and the public in research is to increase their perspectives being taken into account in areas such as: the research idea, the recruiting of participants, the research tools, the intervention(s), and the outcome measures. Public involvement activities can provide assistance with:

  • Identifying specific public involvement needs for the proposed research
  • Providing feedback and drafting the grant proposal
  • Pointing to appropriate contacts for the recruitment of study

Application and assessment

To be eligible for the PIF, you must be planning to submit a research proposal or fellowship application for peer reviewed funding and receiving support from an RDS SE research adviser.

We advise that applications give as much detail as possible and that the planned public involvement activities are; realistic and relevant, accessible, and that the budget reflects a total sum that matches the suggested activity.

Please use the online application form to make an application to the fund.  Once your application has been submitted at least one lay panel member and a RDS-SE Research Adviser will review it. Their decision is based on how well the criteria in the research checklist is met, which includes:

  • How clear and appropriate the proposed public involvement plans are, which covers:
    • Purpose of activity, who is to be involved, how many are to be involved, and how attendees will be recruited
  • There is a lead person coordinating the proposed PPI activity
  • How those involved will be informed on the impact of their feedback to the research proposal
  • How well the proposed public involvement plans follow good practice
  • There is good consideration of future public involvement (e.g. advisory group, involvement in dissemination and involvement in study design)

When thinking through the application, consideration should be given to the National Standards for PPI.


We welcome applications throughout the year. We recommend that you submit a PIF application at least eight weeks before the funding application deadline. We may still consider an application within a shorter timeframe, but you should contact us (details below) to find out if you are eligible.

All applications will be acknowledged within one week of receipt and we aim to notify applicants of a decision and feedback within three to four weeks from confirmation of receipt. As part of the process we may ask for further information or clarification.

*There is a limited budget so it may be that not all applications can be funded

How to apply for funds

Speak to your RDS SE lead adviser in the first instance. If you are applying for funding from a national, peer reviewed funding programme and they feel you would benefit from a Public Involvement Fund, they will arrange for you to be issued with an application form and researcher checklist with details on how to return the completed application.  Successful applicants are expected to carry out the planned PPI activity within 3 months of being awarded the fund, and where possible, this includes the invoicing of costs incurred (including receipts).

For further information or to talk through with a member of the PPI team please email:


Guidance for payment

INVOLVE and the Mental Health Research Network produced an online resource to help with budgeting for the costs of public involvement in research. It can be used for everything from putting together an involvement budget for an entire study to working out how much it will cost to run a one-off consultation event. The first part of the resource is a guide which provides practical advice, a step by step guide, examples of successful PPI involvement in research projects and tips, links to useful websites and references.

The second part of the resource is an online ‘involvement cost calculator’ to work out the costs for your research study.

PLEASE NOTE: Payment for involvement may jeopardise receipt of benefits or create legal problems where lay people are in receipt of means-tested benefits. Further advice and information about this can be found in the INVOLVE ‘Payment for involvement’ leaflet


To evaluate the impact of the fund we require that all recipients complete a short feedback questionnaire after public involvement activities have been carried out. This will be sent to you by email and all activity applied for as part of the PIF is expected to be completed within 3 months of receiving the award.


If you have any questions or need assistance submitting the online form, please email

Researcher Checklist

Download the researcher checklist here.


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