Case Study

PPI Ignite Team
PPI Ignite network

PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway Public Advisory Panel

The PPI Ignite Network @ Galway programme started in 2018. We wanted to bring the public voice to the centre of our work, therefore we decided to set up a Public Advisory Panel (PAP). Our aim was to bring together a group of people that would include some of the diversity of the community in Galway city and county and that, as we developed a shared understanding of each other, together we would work out how the PAP would shape and influence the PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway work.    

We got advice from existing PPI groups,  from researchers experienced in working in partnership with local communities and from local community groups on the mix of people that we should aim to include. We contacted existing PPI contributors and partners, community contacts and individuals in our professional networks to introduce us to potential members of the Public Advisory Panel. We spoke individually to each person, explaining the purpose of the panel and the proposed commitment, and followed up with a letter of invite to join the group. The panel initially had nine members, with diversity of ages, genders, physical and communication abilities, employment backgrounds, health status, ethnicity, and caring roles, with members living in both urban and rural Ireland. Six remained very active during the Covid pandemic.

The Public Advisory Panel contribute to the PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme in many ways, including:

  • Contributing to the strategic direction of the programme, through discussions at PAP meetings and at the PPI Ignite steering committee
  • Contributing to the co-design and co-delivery of PPI training and education
  • Developing an understanding of PPI among researchers, by joining research teams as PPI contributors
  • Advising researchers who meet with the PAP on early design of specific research studies
  • Working as PPI ambassadors across the University and in the community by contributing to PPI events, co-authoring academic publications and contributing to promotional activities
  • Leading on the selection of PPI award winners at NUI Galway

 The Public Advisory Panel impact PPI at NUI Galway in many ways, including:

  • By co-facilitating PPI training, deepening the understanding of PPI among researchers
  • By speaking at research events and communications in the media, acting as PPI ambassadors among their own communities and at a national level
  • By contributing to planning discussions during the development of the PPI Ignite Network grant, helped shape the PPI Ignite Network both nationally and locally at NUI Galway
  • By working with research teams including in the development of research applications, bringing the public voice to research planning
  • By open discussions, challenging the PPI Ignite Network @ NUI Galway team to constantly consider their programme of work though the public lens

Additionally, as their understanding of PPI grew, some panel members joined as PPI contributors with other research groups and organisations, contributing to their research work.

Face-to-face meetings were very successful and a collaborative team spirit developed quickly. Moving online during the pandemic brought challenges and two previously active members did not stay involved in the group, although one member remains involved in individual dialogue with PPI Ignite Network team members.

Balancing the pace of the discussions at meetings is challenging, to account for both those who think quickly and are confident at speaking in groups with those who need a little more time for reflection and/or are less confident at speaking in groups. Using small breakout groups in meetings (both in person and online) helps, as does the welcoming of contributions in email or by phone outside of the meetings.

Some panel members are keen to be involved in many activities outside of regular meetings, others prefer to contribute during meetings only. It is important to make sure that everyone feels that their level of contribution is acceptable and worthwhile. Some people like to read materials in advance of meetings, others prefer to take in information at meetings: it is important to facilitate both styles of working.

Scheduling meetings to suit everyone can be challenging: the panel asked that a Doodle poll is used to set meeting dates, a method that suits most people in the group.

Keeping in touch with people when they are unable to attend meetings is important, by email and by phone, and it has allowed some panel members to remain involved at a distance and to return to a more active contribution when their own lives allow it.

The Public Advisory Panel were centrally involved in an open letter published on HRB Open Research. on the importance of PPI in research during the Covid pandemic. Click here to read the letter 


Name: Martha Killilea


Research Funder(s)

Research Funder Logo


It is good to be able to email or phone the team later on… my best ideas often come to me as I drive home from our meetings.

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