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Public Involvement training 

Our public involvement training is now available through an online course on the Coursera platform. This course is entitled ‘Public Involvement in Research’ and is aimed at researchers but also suitable for patients and the public (citizens). Over four weeks you will learn how patients and the public can be involved across the research cycle. This ranges from identifying research topics important to patients, through to disseminating important findings to community groups. In this course you will learn practical tips and hear about inspiring real-life examples. Although this course has a public health focus, the methodologies and ways of involving patients and citizens are widely applicable to other disciplines and types of research.  The ‘Public Involvement in Research’ course will give you the skills and knowledge needed to get started with public involvement in research!

Read on for an overview of the course content, as well as information on how to access the course.

Course Overview

Week 1: Differentiating Public Involvement and Co-production in Health Research

In Week 1 you will gain an introduction to what public involvement is, and why it is valuable to do it. You will also learn about the differences and similarities with ‘co-production’ and hear some inspiring examples.

Week 2:  Role of Public Involvement and Co-production Throughout the Research Cycle

In Week 2 you will become more familiar with participatory approaches early in the ‘research cycle’. You will learn how the process of doing research can be broken down into seven broad stages, which is helpful for thinking about research activities the public can shape. First, you will become familiar with techniques and tips for involving the public in identifying and prioritising research topics. Next, you will look at the role of public involvement and co-production throughout the second stage (Designing and Managing) and third stage (Funding and Commissioning) of the research cycle. You will hear from citizens that have been involved in these stages, and have the chance to reflect on the value of these methods.

Week 3: What Is the Role of Public Involvement and Co-production Throughout the Stages of the Research Cycle? (Covering Stage 4 (Undertaking and Analysing), Stage 5 (Disseminating) and Stage 6 (Implementing))

In Week 3 you'll look at the role of public involvement and co-production throughout the fourth stage of the research cycle (Undertaking and Analysing). Qualitative research might seem the most obvious kind of research in which to involve citizens and patients as co-researchers – such as interviews. However, you're going to study some other examples where citizens and patients can inform the “doing” of research – such as systematic reviews and even ‘basic science’. In Lesson 2, you'll look at the role of public involvement and co-production throughout the fifth and sixth stages of the research cycle (Disseminating) and (Implementing) respectively. It will feature tips for communicating scientific knowledge.

Week 4: How can you evaluate public involvement and co-production in health research (stage 7 of the research cycle)?

In the final week, you will learn about the ways to evaluate public involvement and co-production in health research (stage 7 of the research cycle). A public contributor gives an interview in which he talks about his experience with evaluating the impact of public involvement. You also have the opportunity to decide on an evaluation tool which could be applied to your own setting.

Course FAQs

How long is the course? It is structured as a 4-week course with approximately 4 hours content per week. However, you are able to skip to areas of the course that you are most interested in, if you wish.

Who can take the course? Anyone can take the course for free but unless you have access through Imperial College or pay Coursera's fee, you will not receive a certificate of completion (approximately £35 depending on what kind of Coursera account you have). For more information about the certificate price, please contact Coursera.

What if I need a certificate of completion? Imperial staff and students will be able to access the course for free using their Imperial email address. If you are a public contributor working with an Imperial research team, please ask your Imperial point of contact about how best to obtain a certificate.

Will there be additional training sessions? As required, PERC and the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit also plan to host online sessions in more depth on topical issues such as diversity in research participation and the role of a public co-applicant on a research study. Please check back here for more details.

If you are an Imperial staff member or student and have any other enquiries or need more information about public involvement training, please contact PERC at publicinvolvement@imperial.ac.uk.

Other training resources

Other training resources

Other Public Involvement training and resources for researchers and members of the public

  • An introduction to Public Involvement in Research (Maria Piggin, Partnerships and Training Manager at PERC, The Society for Endocrinology Skills Academy Webinar)
  • Introduction to Participatory Approaches in Public Health (Coursera) - This course provides an introduction to participatory approaches to public health. Learn about the history of participatory health research and why it is essential to solving contemporary public health challenges.
  • Applying Participatory Approaches in Public Health Settings (Coursera) - This course specifically explores approaches and tools, and how to apply them in public health settings. You will learn how to critically analyse the power dynamics present between multidisciplinary stakeholders and appreciate the need for reciprocity between those delivering and those receiving health care; between both those conducting and those participating in research. 
  • Public reviewing with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - online course made up of 3 modules developed by the NIHR for:
      • Public contributors who have been asked to provide feedback on a research document or sit on committee that assess several research documents.
      • Public contributors who are new to reviewing (research) and those who want to know more.
      • Researchers, research managers and funders who want to understand what makes good Patient and Public Involvement and the public perspective.
  • Working with People and Communities to Improve Health Outcomes (NHS England). Learn how to engage with different people and communities to reduce inequalities and ensure inclusive access to healthcare.
  • The Applied Research Collaboration (North West London) (ARC NWL) offers eLearning modules to aide quality improvement. It’s primarily aimed at lay people, however one module entitled ‘Patient and Public Engagement/Involvement’ may be of interest. [N.B. email registration needed]
  • EUPATI Open Classroom - Flexible and on demand e-learning platform providing courses in medicines research and development for patients, patient representatives and other stakeholders. If a learner wishes to take an assessment to test their learning, the fee to unlock an assessment is EUR 8 (incl. VAT) and they will receive a course certificate via email.
  • European Patient Ambassador Programme course - The course is made up of eight modules, which will help you gain the information and skills you need to become a successful patient representative. You do not have to do the modules in the order they are presented. The individual modules can be done in any order you feel best suits your needs and interests.
  • COVID-19: Understanding the research behind the pandemic - developed by the NIHR Clinical Research Network and the University of Leeds. The course aims to uncover the UK’s critical health research response in the NHS - which discovered new vaccines and proven treatments in response to the COVID-19 global healthcare crisis. The two-week online course will only take two hours of your time each week and you’ll explore how the research community rose to the challenge to develop life-saving treatments and vaccines with patient safety at the centre of its work.  A certificate is available on completion of the course at the cost of £32.

  • Research Methods: A Practical Guide to Peer and Community Research: Identify how to conduct your own research and develop your own ethical research project on this practical course (Futurelearn)
  • Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research (Futurelearn) - appropriate for members of the public -  on this free online course, find out how medical treatments are discovered, tested and evaluated to improve healthcare for all
  • FutureLearn provides free online learning to all, which often includes courses hugely relevant to research, public engagement and involvement and the wider field of health and well-being. You can sign-up to get notifications, or keep checking the site for the latest courses.
  • NIHR INCLUDE online course - accessible online through NIHR Learn. For new users, you will be prompted to register at the login page. Upon completion of the registration form, you will then have access to the course