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Members of the public have been involved in research projects for many years and in many different ways. This involvement can occur during any or all of the stages, from setting the research agenda, undertaking research, interpreting research, disseminating the results of research, to getting findings put into practice. Research that involves the public is often more reliable, more relevant to the public once it is complete and, therefore, more likely to be used. The following guides address the principles and practicalities of user involvement, offering valuable checklists for getting started.

Involving the public in NHS, public health, and social care research: Briefing notes for researchers

This booklet aims to give researchers working within the NHS, social care and public health fields some guidelines on how best to involve the public in their work. It will benefit researchers who are new to or just starting to involve the public. There are some excellent examples of good practice to address the most frequently asked questions, and some checklists about the practicalities of involvement, particularly in relation to committees and resources. 

Getting started with involving the public in public health research: An information sheet for researchers

Published by INVOLVE, this 2-page introductory paper summarises the issues of involving the public in public health research. It addresses the questions Who to involve? and Where to find them? A more detailed paper 'Involving the public in NHS, public health and social care research: Briefing notes for researchers' Hanley et al (2003) INVOLVE, sets out the principles and practicalities of involving the public in research. The booklet is designed for researchers with no previous experience of involving members of the public, and people who use services, as active partners in research. It is a well-referenced introductory document on involvement.

Good practice guide: user involvement

This 4-page guide is based on a series of good practice examples identified from the evaluation of the Big Lottery Fund's Research Grants programme. It offers examples about what has worked for other research projects and is designed to help third sector organisations and their research partners with engaging users in the planning and delivery of research.

Science Shop Toolbox 

The Science Shop is an example of a community-based research organisation formed from a partnership, usually, between universities and their local communities. It is demand-driven and bottom-up, participatory research that is initiated in response to societal issues and concerns. Living Knowledge, the International Science Shop Network, has developed this online training resource to support the development of innovative practice in this area. The Toolbox includes FAQs, Training programmes, E-modules ("Getting started" and "How to organise a community-based research project"), a handbook-style Scenario Workshop Toolkit and a database of organisations involved in this field.