Public Involvement Impact Assessment Framework

Part 1: Exploring Impacts - Overview

Assessing the impact of public involvement in research is far from straightforward. Public involvement in research is a complex social process comprising separate elements that are essential for the processes to work properly but it often isn't clear how they affect the impacts public involvement can have. This complexity means:

  • It is unlikely that public involvement carried out in the same way would achieve the same impacts across different research projects
  • It is difficult to generalise from methods used in one impact assessment to another or to generalise about the findings of different studies of impacts
  • Diversity of the public who are involved and the aims of and context for involvement make it hard to predict where involvement will have the greatest impact
  • It is very difficult to attribute specific impacts to public involvement in general or to different types of involvement is very difficult.

The main elements that influence public involvement in research and the impact this involvement can have are identified in PiiAF.

Diagram representing Part 1 Link to Values Link to Approaches Link to Research Focus Link to Practical Issues
  • Your approach i.e. the ways in which members of the public are involved in your study
  • The values associated with public involvement by members of your research team
  • The focus of your research and your study design
  • Finally, a wide range of practical issues including human and material resources.

Understanding how each element of the PIIAF can shape public involvement processes and the impacts they can have is essential to the design of an impact assessment. For example, identifying the practical issues which might affect the process of involvement will help you report key features of the context in which public involvement took place and help you consider how the context affected the impacts you identify.