Public Involvement Impact Assessment Framework

image representing an element piece for Approaches to public involvementPart 1: Approaches to public involvement in research

  • Summary
  • Issues
  • Questions
  • Record Card
  • Resources


There are many different ways of categorising approaches to involvement. Some categorisations are presented as hierarchies, with one approach being seen as inherently better than another, but not everyone agrees that this is appropriate.

Distinguishing between the general approach to involvement (e.g. consultation, collaboration, control), the specific methods (e.g. service user researcher, public members of a project advisory group or a consultative panel) and the activities undertaken (e.g. commenting upon a research proposal, peer interviewing) can contribute to a more sophisticated understanding of how the involvement might have an impact.


The approach to PI, the specific methods used and the activities the public get involved in (as well as the interaction between these dimensions) will shape the impacts PI has on research processes and outcomes. Revealing these complex pathways can be difficult.

If the PI processes are problematic then its beneficial impact may be reduced.

Different research projects may require different approaches to public involvement as well as different kinds of lay expertise.

PI needs to be designed to suit the particular research study and may involve more than one approach and/or different PI approaches, methods and/or activities at different stages in the research .

The evidence base on PI will be improved if researchers are clear and transparent about their approach to PI, the impacts they wish PI to have and the pathways linking these two.


What do you consider your overarching approach to PI to be and what specific methods will you adopt?

Which aspects of your public involvement approach and methods might potentially act as barriers and/or facilitators to achieving the impacts you hope for?

How might you address these barriers?

Record Card

Record card example


Table of resources for this element
Resource No.DescriptionDownload
#3Tokenism: interactive resource to prompt discussion about how tokenistic approaches to public involvement might be avoided based on the findings from the PiiAF study group's Delphi researchdownload icon