Public involvement and engagement – MRC

One of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) strategic priorities is to build a culture within MRC and its research community where equitable and inclusive public and patient involvement and engagement is an integral part of research.

Public engagement includes all types of activity that seek to break down the barriers between research, innovation and society.

Collaborative research and patient and public involvement are all ways that research and innovation can be co-created with the public. Festivals, museums and science centres aim to inspire publics and share knowledge.

Schools engagement, including mentoring programmes and work placements, offers the next generation a window on the many career opportunities available in research and innovation and helps them to develop useful skills.

We are undertaking activities to help us develop a new MRC public involvement and engagement strategy. This will support the goals of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) public engagement strategy.

It will also align with the shared commitment to public involvement signed by UKRI in 2022. With this statement, we have made a commitment to improve and expand public involvement in health and care research so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and to benefit from it.

MRC public involvement landscape review

This is a review into public involvement in research with a specific focus on non-clinical health and biomedical research. It explores public involvement culture and practice within MRC and the external research landscape.

Read the public involvement review.

We commissioned Vocal to conduct the review. The team included:

  • researchers
  • public involvement practitioners
  • public partners

Vocal worked with an external advisory group including:

  • public partners
  • involvement practitioners
  • scientists and researchers
  • representatives of research organisations

Summary of review findings

The findings show that there is a significant amount of active public involvement taking place across the wider landscape of non-clinical research and within MRC.

To enable and achieve the potential of public involvement, we need to develop our culture, within head office and in the MRC-funded research community. Research environments should enable person-focused, inclusive, reciprocal and valued relationships with people, patients and communities.

The review provides:

  • recommendations to support the development of a new MRC public involvement and engagement strategy
  • knowledge and evidence to support the growing community of practice in public involvement with non-clinical health research

Read a personal perspective on the benefits of taking public involvement into the research lab, by Rachel Knowles, Lead for Clinical Research Policy, Ethics and Governance at MRC.

Next steps

With Vocal and the external advisory group we ran a series of workshops (June to July 2023).

In the workshops we explored:

  • what people would like to see in the MRC public involvement and engagement vision and priorities
  • what would be needed to deliver it in practice

Attendees included MRC staff, researchers, funders, public involvement and public engagement professionals, and public or community contributors.

Following the co-development workshops, we continued to work with our external advisory group and sought input from other stakeholders.

The consultation on the draft MRC public partnerships strategy ran from 8 to 29 January 2024. The results are being reviewed and will inform the final strategy due to be published in spring to summer 2024.

Examples of good practice for researchers

These case studies feature different types and methods of effective public involvement and engagement in research:

Last updated: 16 February 2024

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