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.

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.

Examples of good practice for researchers

Our good research resource hub includes case studies of effective public involvement and collaborative working between public partners and researchers that span:

Funding sources

When you are making research funding applications, please plan and budget for public involvement and engagement activities as an integral part of your research.

The Medical Research Foundation’s Changing policy and practice award aims to support the dissemination of medical research beyond the scientific peer reviewed press, with the aim of influencing healthcare and behaviour.

For a comprehensive list of funding sources, visit the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

Contact us

Contact our public engagement team for more information or support.


Last updated: 22 February 2023

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