What Works Scotland is using a variety of approaches in Glasgow to grow the capacity to capture evidence and use it for insight and decision-making.

Photo of Glasgow from the air showing the city and the River ClydeWhat Works Scotland is working on a number of research initiatives with different partners in Glasgow Community Planning Partnership (CPP) including the extensive, long-term initiative Thriving Places.

These projects use a variety of research approaches. For some we have used the collaborative action research approach.

For other projects we have used alternative methods to promote the use of evidence, and have produced an evaluability assessment, an evaluation report and a case study.

Collaborative action research

What Works Scotland research associate Richard Brunner, at the University of Glasgow, is leading the CAR work with Glasgow CPP through the following projects.

Generating case study evidence

The Case Study Development Group is a collaborative learning programme through which a group of officers could improve their skills in capturing Thriving Places outcomes using case study evidence.

The aim was for participants to conduct one or more case studies related to their own work in Thriving Places. This could evidence partnership working, community engagement, co-production, use of assets and more. The programme sought to develop the research skills of the participants and contribute evidence to each participating Thriving Place.

Evaluating participatory budgeting

Graphic illustrating the Participatory Budgeting evaluation process. Four arrows point from one to the next starting with one labelled Aim, then Planning, then Process, then Impact. Underneath are pieces of text that relate to each arrow, as follows: Aim: What to do we want to achieve?, Planning: How good is our leadership?, Process: How good is our delivery of key processes? Impact: What key outcomes have we achieved? All four sections have smaller arrows in both directions up up to each individual section and down to a piece of text that underlies all four sections which asks ''What is out our capacity for improvement?'We established a Participatory Budgeting Evaluation CAR Group for people involved with CPP partners that have an operational or reporting role in community budgeting.

With the support of What Works Scotland, the CPP partners developed a framework for evaluating the processes and outcomes of participatory budgeting.

This work generated a bespoke PB evaluation toolkit for Glasgow, which is now available for use and will be adapted and updated as necessary, building on the experiences of  PB groups in Glasgow.

As part of the project the Group visited Paris, alongside representatives from Fife CPP, to draw on international learning.

Evaluability Assessment of Thriving Places principles and outcomes

In 2016 What Works Scotland supported CPP leaders and practitioners in Glasgow through an Evaluability Assessment process to help the CPP with its evaluation of Thriving Places principles and outcomes. The process included Peter Craig, University of Glasgow, who is the What Works Scotland lead on data and evaluation.

An evaluability assessment is a collaborative mechanism that enabled the CPP partners to develop and clarify the ‘theory of change’ that underpins Thriving Places. Now it is completed, the CPP has a unified ‘theory of change’ for officers to use and a recommendation for evaluation.

Collaborative dissertations in Thriving Places

What Works Scotland has innovated a collaborative dissertation programme for health and social science Masters students. This has boosted connections between the University of Glasgow and the city’s East End and enhanced the evidence base in North East Glasgow’s Thriving Places areas.

What Works Scotland and our CPP partners from Thriving Places co-produced introductory seminars in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for Masters students interested in doing fieldwork in Thriving Places – some of the areas of highest deprivation in the city. At the seminars students could find out about Thriving Places and the collaborative dissertation opportunities and talk informally with the workers.

One collaborative dissertation was conducted in 2016 and five in 2017, each supervised by a University of Glasgow academic. Each student has also produced a lay summary of their research findings for use by Thriving Places and their host organisations.

Supporting community consultation

In 2015 What Works Scotland supported CPP partners in Parkhead and Dalmarnock Thriving Place to conduct and analyse a community consultation to inform the Thriving Places Action Plan.

Breakfast Club evaluation

In Parkhead and Dalmarnock, during 2015 to 2016,  What Works Scotland collaborated on an evaluation on a primary school Breakfast Club. This has led to a new project involving the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health focused on the concept of Children’s Neighbourhoods.

Operation Modulus case study

In Gorbals Thriving Place, What Works Scotland produced a case study of Operation Modulus, a gang violence reduction initiative demonstrating leadership, partnership and co-production in an area-based context. It has been published to inform other Glasgow CPP partners and public services Scotland-wide that are working to implement the principles of the Christie Commission.

A follow-up study on the implementation of Operation Modulus in Govan and Castlefern is currently under way.

Related resources

More than 10 differently shaped cogwheels in different colours connected with grey linesThe What Works Scotland approach to collaborative action research

Discover more about our approach to collaborative action research and the learning that is emerging from our work in multi-agency, multi-practitioner public service environments including Glasgow.


Collaborative Action Research and public services – insights into methods, findings and implications for public service reform

A working paper sharing the findings from the What Works Scotland programme of collaborative action research (CAR). The paper highlights learnings and insights that the researchers gained from facilitating CAR over three years (2015-2017) in the four community planning partnerships. The findings demonstrate that CAR has the potential to contribute to developing the practices of collaborative governance – partnership, participation, performance and prevention – by constructively and critically engaging with current policy and practice expectations.