Glasgow imageWhat Works Scotland is facilitating a number of research initiatives with different partners in Glasgow Community Planning Partnership. These include several projects using the WWS research approach of Collaborative Action Research, plus some initiatives using other research approaches.

Collaborative Action Research (CAR) has successfully been used worldwide in education and schools to change professional working practices, and WWS is innovating this research approach with Community Planning Partnerships across our four case study areas (Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Aberdeenshire and Fife). For WWS, CAR involves a Research Associate working with groups of CPP partners on a topic of common concern, supporting them to reflect on their working practices in relation to that topic, explore evidence on that topic, learn from this evidence, enact evidence-informed change, and share the experience and findings, so spreading the learning. This ‘research cycle’ can be repeated several times.

What Works Scotland, with the consent of those involved in these CAR activities, seeks to learn from this work. This learning will inform the practice of conducting CAR in multi-agency contexts, and will also inform the public service reform agenda in Scotland, stemming from the Christie Commission report. These fit with the WWS overall objective to improve the way local areas in Scotland use evidence to make decisions about public service development and reform.

Richard Brunner (University of Glasgow and Research Associate with WWS), is leading the CAR work with Glasgow CPP.  CAR projects include:

  • A co-produced seminar at the University of Glasgow bringing together CPP partners from North East  Thriving Places area with Health and Social Sciences Masters students that are interested in doing Masters fieldwork in relation to Thriving Places. The aim is to increase research capacity and evidence in the Thriving Places areas in North East Glasgow. The learning from this will be tracked by WWS. The concept can be repeated with other Thriving Places areas.
  • A Community Budgeting Evaluation CAR Group. For people involved with CPP partners that have an operational or reporting role in Community Budgeting. With the support of WWS, CPP partners will develop a framework for evaluating the processes and outcomes of Community Budgeting.
    Oliver Escobar (University of Edinburgh and WWS Lead on community engagement and governance) and Richard Brunner are leading this group together.
  • A Case Study Development Group. A collaborative learning programme in which a group of officers involved in Thriving Places improve their skills in capturing Thriving Places outcomes using case study evidence. Participants will conduct one or more case studies related to their own work in TP. This could evidence partnership working, community engagement, co-production, use of assets and more. The programme will develop the research skills of participants and contribute evidence to each participating Thriving Place. The group plans to run through to Dec 2016, and the learning will be disseminated more widely.
  • Supporting CPP partners in Parkhead and Dalmarnock Thriving Place with conducting and analysing a community consultation to inform their Thriving Places Action Plan.

In Glasgow, What Works Scotland is also using other research approaches to promote the use of evidence. This includes:

  • WWS is supporting CPP leaders and practitioners in Glasgow through an Evaluability Assessment process to help the CPP with its evaluation of Thriving Places principles and outcomes. This process includes Peter Craig (University of Glasgow and WWS Lead on data and evaluation). Evaluability Assessment is a means of CPP partners developing and clarifying the ‘theory of change’ that underpins Thriving Places. Once the process is complete, the CPP will be in a better informed position to consider options for evaluation. Richard Brunner will be working with the group to understand their learning from the process.
  • In Gorbals Thriving Place, WWS is producing a case study of Operation Modulus, a gang violence reduction initiative demonstrating leadership, partnership and co-production in an area-based context. This will seek to inform other Glasgow CPP partners and public services Scotland-wide that are working to implement the principles of the Christie Commission.

Contact Richard Brunner at or on 0141 330 5955 for news on any of these WWS activities.