Paying members of the public for the time they commit to your project acknowledges the value and respect for their involvement. Payment should reflect the time, skills and expertise they contribute to the research process. This is a key element of good practice as identified in the UK Standards for Public Involvement.

Rewarding people encourages equal partnerships between researchers and members of the public, which is a key principle of PCIE and co-production. It also helps to include people who might not otherwise be able to get involved, whether for financial or other reasons relating to access. Consequently, it widens the potential pool of people contributing to the research process and the diversity of our research community.

Do not underestimate your budget for involvement – plan your PCIE budget early along with the rest of the project budget. You need to make sure that you know where your budget is coming from and have enough budget to coordinate and support meaningful involvement throughout your research.


Things to Consider:

  • Understand your organisation's payment policy for public members; this is different for each organisation, including rates of payment. ARC KSS uses their hosting Trusts Policy (Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust)
  • At the outset, offer clear information for members of the public explaining what they are being offered, how they will be paid, how their involvement will be acknowledged and what actions they need to take.
  • Offer payment at a level that is appropriate to the nature and demands of the activity and is fair when compared to other members of the research team. This acknowledges the value placed on public involvement.
  • Consult with members of the public about how they would like to receive payment or acknowledgement for their contributions - be flexible and recognise an individual’s circumstances.
  • Where possible, pay expenses in advance or promptly after the event to avoid members of the public having to wait for reimbursement.
  • Ensure those on benefits are not adversely affected by being paid for their involvement.
  • If you have no budget, especially at the planning phase, be honest with your public members and give them the option to be involved.

Other forms of recognition:

  • Thank public members of the public for their contributions, whatever method of payment and recognition you decide upon.
  • Keep those actively involved updated about the progress of your research, including feedback on how their contributions have made a difference.
  • Offer learning and development opportunities to support and recognise the value of the contributions made by public members, with certificates to record what learning may have been achieved or sessions attended.
  • Acknowledge the contribution of members of the public to your research in internal and external reports, publications, posters and presentations.
  • Offer information about other opportunities for involvement and/or participation in research.

Links to Resources:

Online costs Calculator. NIHR Involve.

Payment Guidance for Researchers and professionals. NIHR April 2021

Payment guidance for members of the public considering involvement in research. NIHR April 2021

UK Standards for Public Involvement these have been developed to improve the quality and consistency of public involvement in research. They are also designed to be a tool to help people and organisations identify what they are doing well, and what needs improving.

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