Patient and Public Involvement at the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

University Commitment

The University of Aberdeen is equally committed to supporting and encouraging researchers to involve members of the public in research activities, as well as providing opportunities for members of the public to connect with and engage in our research.

What is Patient and Public Involvement in Research?

Patient and Public Involvement (also called PPI) is the term we use to describe working with members of the public and patients who will contribute to how research is designed, conducted and disseminated. It ensures that research stays accessible and relevant to public needs.

Get Involved in Our Research

The University of Aberdeen are looking for a group of enthusiastic people aged 18 and over to provide views and advice on our medical and biomedical research. You will be involved with different research projects that will change over time. For more information on medical research at the University of Aberdeen please visit here.

What sort of time commitment is required to be part of this group?

We plan on hosting four 2-hr online meetings per year (1 every 3 months). Time may also be required for emails or reviewing documents before and after the meetings. We would like to have members of the public commit to working with us for 1 year to ensure continuity of the group. If you would like to become involved in research but don’t want to commit to a year, please get in touch with us as other opportunities may be available to you.

I’ve never done research or anything like this before – how will I know what to do?

That’s ok! We’ll provide you with the necessary training and instructions to undertake any task we might ask of you. We are always happy to answer questions so you are comfortable working with us and the other research partners. If you are interested in or curious about research and are willing to share your thoughts and ideas with us, we’d love to work with you.

Is this just a volunteer position or will I get paid?

We view this role as not just a volunteer position, but a partnership with us in research activities. We know that your time is valuable. We will compensate you for your time and expenses at a standard rate as per national guidelines.

I don’t have a computer – will this be a problem?

Not necessarily. Although having a computer and an internet connection will make participation in the group easier, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not required. We can post documents to you and you can join the online meetings via telephone so that you can take part in the group.

I don’t live in Aberdeen. Are you taking people who live in different parts of Scotland?

Yes we are! Our group will meet online so it is okay if you don't live in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.

How can I get involved?

If you are interested in finding out more or have any questions, please contact Diane McCosh or Tel 01224 437 957

PPI Resources for Researchers

PPI in Research

What is Patient and Public Involvement in research?

We operate from the INVOLVE definition of patient and public involvement, research that is done ‘with’ or ‘by’ the public, not 'to', 'about' or 'for' them. It means that patients or other people with relevant experience contribute to how research is designed, conducted and disseminated.

Patient and public involvement in research differs from public engagement with research, in which researchers share and discuss their research with different audiences through forums like public events, festivals and social media or targeted community activities.

It is also different to research participation, in which researchers recruit and consent people to take part in research study activities, for example by completing a survey, providing clinical samples or taking part in an intervention trial. Unlike research participation, ethical approval is not needed for the majority of public involvement activities.

Why is Patient and Public Involvement in research so important?

We have long recognised that collaborating with patients, carers, community and charity organisations and individuals with relevant experience positively impacts on all stages of research. Our goal is to ensure that patient and public involvement in research leads to:

  • Identification of the most relevant research priorities.
  • Better design, management and undertaking of research projects.
  • Improved interpretation of findings within given context.
  • Wider dissemination and sharing of findings to public and key stakeholders.
  • A change to clinical practice or policy by implementation of research findings.
  • Continual evaluation of impact from research.
Getting Started

Where to begin?Flow chart for PPI

Whether you are just beginning to develop an idea for a research project or about to begin data analysis, you can involve members of the public at any point in the Research Cycle. It is never too early or too late to incorporate these activities into your research!

For example, you could:

  • Host a priority setting exercise to determine what are the perceived research needs and gaps for your patient/public population.
  • Develop a grant application with named members of an advisory group to determine design of project, key outcomes, planned activities and timeline.
  • Involve patients or public in ethics and protocol development, participant recruitment and retention, and materials (e.g., leaflets, surveys, consent forms, website/social media material).
  • Work with patients or public on creating the data analysis plan and interpreting findings from perspective of their lived experience.
  • Disseminate and evaluate findings alongside patients or public to both academic and non-academic audiences.

Who can help?

If you have never undertaken PPI activities or if you have but want to further develop your skills, there are a number of resources available to you at the University of Aberdeen within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition (SMMSN), including:

  • A new SMMSN patient and public research interest group is being established. In due course this will become available to researchers as a resource to help facilitate engagement with PPI.
  • An internal fund is available to University of Aberdeen researchers to support a range of PPI activities. Applications are assessed competitively. More information can be found at the Patient and Public Involvement Fund.
  • Regular training on effective and practical PPI and Public Engagement is provided through the Grants Academy ResearchBite series as well as the Public Engagement Research Unit (PERU).
  • Research and Innovation staff Juliette Snow and Despoina Kaloriti can advise researchers planning and developing grant applications on any funder-specific PPI requirements including eligible costs that can be requested to support PPI activities.
  • A number of SMMSN colleagues have extensive PPI experience and are available for consultation. Please contact Diane McCosh if you would like more information.
  • On occasion external funders launch ad hoc calls focussed on PPI activities; these opportunities are promoted through the Grants Academy and the PERU team can offer hands-on support to help prepare competitive proposals.

*Image of Research Cycle from NIHR - Involve

External Resources & Workshops

A list of helpful external resources

You may find the following useful if you are also interested in conducting Public Engagement activities.

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement


Details of any future PPI workshops will be posted here.