Identify and engage partners and stakeholders


A Project Partner is an individual collaborator or organisation (academic or non-academic) that will have an integral role in the proposed research project.

It is important to consider what expertise you need to carry out the project and then identify who can provide this expertise. There are a number of self service supports listed below, which may help you find future project partners.



Stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organisations, who have an interest in your research project; who affect or are affected by its outcomes; or who perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of research.

Stakeholder engagement is the process of working together with these groups of people towards a common goal.

Engaging stakeholders in research can provide you with a deeper understanding of the context of your research, and increases your ability to create solutions that meet stakeholders’ needs. Stakeholder engagement can increase your ability to deliver useful and usable knowledge.


Purposeful Stakeholder and Partner Engagement

It is important to think about why and with whom you want to engage at an early stage in the project.

The reasons underlying stakeholders engagement and the type of engagement you employ is entirely context specific. Stakeholder engagement is an ongoing dialogue that requires reflective, analytical, and dynamic interaction. 


Planning for Successful Engagement


Early and consistent stakeholder engagement is optimum in order to facilitate relationship building, provide contextual understanding for research questions, build trust in research and deliver useful findings.


Researchers may want to consider the below set of questions when preparing and planning their engagement: 

Why do you want to involve partners or stakeholder(s)?  

  • An ethical and practical reflection on why you want to engage people should be your first step. 
  • Develop a transparent justification for why you are involving these stakeholder(s), ensuring that this also aligns with research needs. 
  • Are you going to be responsive to the suggestions of the stakeholder(s) you are considering engaging? 


Who should you engage?  

  • Consider who your research intended for? 
  • Do the stakeholder(s) you plan to engage reflect the users of your research?  
  • Apply an Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) lens and be mindful of creating an environment that facilitates engagement with diverse stakeholders. You may wish to specifically consider diversity related to 
    • Age
    • Sex
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Health status
    • Previous experience
    • Ethnicity  
  • How can you engage your targeted stakeholder(s)?  
    • Enable an informed choice for people to get involved by providing accessible, clear and transparent information.  
    • You are building a working relationship with people. You should be clear and transparent as to the goals of engagement.  
    • Be very clear with regards to expectations: what should the people you are engaging with expect from you? What do you expect from them?  


Ideally stakeholder engagement should be thought about in parallel with the design of the research activity. The aim should be to prioritise those engagement activities that will enhance the quality or impact of your research.

Read this short guide (8 min read): How to do Stakeholder Analysis


Public(s) as Stakeholders

Public involvement in research is based on the idea that people who are affected by research have a right to inform that research. Meeting with key stakeholders including members of the public, technical experts, service providers and users, other researchers, community partners, policymakers, industry liaisons and funders allows for maximum input as the research question takes shape. 

Public(s) is a term that refers to your targeted interest group, be they communities of people based on their interests, passions or other shared circumstances. It should be noted that although some initiatives may be targeted to reach an interested ‘general public’ stakeholder, targeting the general public as if they were an undifferentiated group of people is rarely successful.


Public and Patient Involvement in Research (PPI)

PPI Ignite Network @ UCD is a programme focused on supporting and embedding public and patient involvement (PPI) in health and social care research.  They have resources on engaging and involving patients, carers and other interested groups in health and social care research including a paper on the values underlying early (pre-research idea) public engagement in research and a planning canvas to help researchers plan a considered approach to PPI, including stakeholder engagement.

For further information on PPI, contact the PPI Ignite Network @ UCD programme manager Dr Emma Dorris:


Self-Service Supports

If you want to find collaborators or networks for research partnerships, you might consider the following:

Central Supports

Community of Practice Contact Details
Activities and programmes run by UCD and its members take place across the full spectrum of public engagement, from informing and inspiring through to consulting and collaborating. Visit the UCD Public Engagement Community of Practice website to see resources, seminars, events and case studies, or to join the community. Visit UCD Public Engagement website