PPI information for the public

As a research funder, including the perspectives of the public is an important part of our grant review process. We have been working with our public reviewers for several years now and we believe your opinion can help improve the quality of the research that we invest in.

The HRB funds research projects and programmes in universities and hospitals to improve health and enhance patient care.

We support different types of health research including research that focuses on better results for the patient, research focusing on delivery of healthcare services in Ireland as well as research focusing on prevention of ill health and promotion of wellbeing.

Researchers can apply for funding for their research through a variety of HRB funding schemes. All funding schemes have specific eligibility criteria and are targeted at researchers at different stages in their career.

You can find more information on how the HRB funds research on our before you apply page.


Each research proposal received by the HRB undergoes what is called an international peer review before a funding decision is made. Peer reviews are carried out by experienced researchers with expertise in the area of the proposed research. They ensure that the research we fund is of the best possible standard. Typically about 20-25% of applications are funded.

These reviewers only provide a scientific perspective of whether the proposed research is sufficiently relevant, timely and useful. We also want the perspective of people who use or are potential users of the health and social care system in which the research takes place.

By asking members of the public for their opinion, we can help to ensure that researchers ask the right questions and in a way that the public understand, in addition to making sure that the people participating in the research are approached in the right way. Therefore the HRB invites input from public reviewers to help improve the quality of the research that we invest in.

We do not expect you to be able to provide commentary on the scientific methodologies or theory. Rather we hope that through your lived experience and your perspective as a member of the public you will be able to comment on whether the research is in the best interests of the patient or general health of the population.


Researchers applying for HRB funding must complete an application form saying what research they want to do and how they want to do it. As a public reviewer, you will be asked to review~ 1-4 of these research proposals and complete a short assessment report within a pre-agreed period of time (usually 4 weeks). The review can be done from home, in your own time, and you will be paid a standard fee for each application reviewed.

Your review is written from your perspective as a member of the public or informed by your knowledge and experience as a patient, carer and or user of health services.

We would particularly like to hear your views on the following aspects:

  • Does the plain English summary give a clear explanation of the research?
  • In your opinion, will knowing the answer to the research question make a difference to real people? (now or in the future)
  • Has there been any public and patient involvement in the development of the application?
  • Are there any plans for public and patient involvement in the research throughout its lifetime?
  • Are any plans for PPI in the management arrangements of an award? Are these appropriate and relevant for the project?
  • Are members of the public, patients, service users or carers included in the research team?
  • Have the applicants included any money for public involvement activities in their overall budget?
  • Could you identify or suggest any areas for improvement of PPI in the research?
  • Have the researchers taken a realistic approach to recruiting people to participate in their research as research subjects?
  • Will the researchers make the research results, both positive and negative, known to any research participants and PPI contributors involved in the study and more widely to the public?

Feedback on the quality of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is provided by two public reviewers for each application.

The reviewers’ comments (both public and scientific) are passed on to the applicants, who have the opportunity to respond. We will not share the reviewers name with the researchers.

The second stage of the review process is what is called the panel review stage. Review panels are established for each scheme. Panels are made up of international scientific experts from a range of backgrounds. For some schemes, public reviewers are included as panel members. The reviews and the related applicant responses are made available to the panel before they meet. The panel will take the reviews, rating and applicant response to the public review into consideration in their decisions on who to recommend for funding.

  • Public Reviewers are offered a payment for completion of reviews and attendance at workshops.
  • Payment for reviewing work might affect those in receipt of state benefits. It will be your personal responsibility to find out about any implications.
  • The HRB are required to apply tax to panel payments and we will need to report it to Revenue. The level of tax you pay will depend on your own personal situation.

Download our Guidance on Payment Reimbursement Rates for Public Involvement which contains further important information.


The HRB maintains a dedicated database of potential public reviewers. Reviewers  bring the voice and perspective of the public, independent of organisations or specific causes, to contribute to our funding decisions. We would like to hear from you if you are interested in becoming a reviewer.

Ireland is home to a culturally and linguistically diverse population and we would like to grow our database to so that we have representation from minority groups. It is also important that we have greater representation from young people. If you are from a minority group or are aged 18-30 we would particularly like to hear from you.

You do not have to have any experience to become a reviewer. You will need to have an email account and be able to fill in forms on a computer.  Training workshops are available to those selected to review.

Once you have registered as a public reviewer, you may be invited to review research proposals. Reviewers are selected by lottery at various points throughout the year.

Please fill in our Public Reviewer Application Form and send it to Sara Lord