Selected reports and work of interest
This is selection of past work, largely that which is available on-line.
Cedar (Children Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery)
“We thought they didn’t see” Cedar in Scotland – Children and Mothers Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery, Final report of an action research evaluation, June 2011
Cedar Interim Evaluation Report May 2010 Cedar Interim Evaluation Report, May 2010
See also Children Living with Domestic Abuse, Briefing for the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network, SCCPN, 2011
Work with stories
These Cedar Stories of Change came from the evaluation of the Cedar work in 2011. Listen and let us know what you think.
Taking Account of Change, Measuring the Impact of Space Unlimited, April 2013. This report describes the co-designed evaluation framework that provides a meaningful basis for gathering both stories and statistics. Using this framework Space Unlimited have produced a series of reports that show the impact of their work.
Other Evaluation and Research Reports
Positive conversations, meaningful change: learning from Animating Assets, Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the Scottish Community Development Centre, 2015. Also see the digital stories.
Getting Better by Design Evaluation of a programme to support the voluntary sector in Scotland, Jo Kennedy and Cathy Sharp, May 2015
Caring to Ask – How to embed caring conversations into practice across North East Glasgow, Cathy Sharp, Jo Kennedy, Ian McKenzie and Belinda Dewar, 2013
A multi-component programme approach to tackle alcohol-related harm in communities: lessons from the Fife Alcohol Partnership Project, Cathy Sharp and Mark Bitel, September 2012
Devolution of Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans: Analysis of consultation responses, Cathy Sharp, Anne Birch and Dawn Griesbach, 2012
Doing with, not to: Community Resilience and Co-production, The Implications for NHS Education for Scotland, Stuart Hashagen, Jo Kennedy, Andrew Paterson and Cathy Sharp, July 2011
Staying afloat: an evaluation of the Health, Work and Wellbeing Management Support Project, Cathy Sharp, with Duncan Wallace, 2011
Evaluation of Homelessness Prevention Innovation Fund Projects, Cathy Sharp and Lucy Robertson, 2008
What do we Measure and Why? An Evaluation of the Citistat Model of Performance Management and its Applicability to the Scottish Public Sector, Cathy Sharp, Jocelyn Jones and Alison M. Smith, 2006
Getting knowledge into practice
Times are difficult and we need to talk to each other about what we ought to be doing. Yet, conversations seem to be no longer available in many settings. We need to learn to work differently and develop new knowledge, skills and the flexibility to respond in new ways to systemic and complex problems on the ground. This can be both scary and exciting.
In Scotland, the Christie Commission has suggested that changing the way we organise our public services is going to take much more than money and calls for a radical, new and collaborative culture. This is a challenge for Government as shown here: in the absence of ‘new money’ national government will need other ways of influencing to achieve the outcomes it seeks in public programmes and services. Action research is a way to generate and test evidence of ‘what works’, how things work and how good practice can become embedded in ways of working to deliver services, manage organisations and involve communities.
This report The improvement of public sector delivery: supporting evidence based practice through action research, (2005) remains relevant for policy makers and practitioners in health, social care and other areas of public sector service delivery with an interest in integrating evidence into practice.
Useful guidance on research methods
Useful guidance on specific research methods is available here How to Gather Views on Service Quality This guidance is useful for anyone interested in improving public services. It was originally published by Communities Scotland and the Scottish Housing Regulator and is now published here with permission.
Cartoon © Kate Charlesworth
Think pieces and inspiration
When are you ever not piloting? (2012)
How action research can help to deliver better public services
Current debates about redefining the relationship between public services and communities can feel uneasy at a time when it feels more important to focus on saving costs and retain essential services. At the heart of current debates is the call for public services to be more responsive by involving individuals and communities in shaping the way services are designed and delivered.
We’re at a critical time. Actions are needed to equip public sector staff and key agencies with the skills and capacity to work with disadvantaged communities to help them respond effectively to current economic conditions. There are calls for a radical, new and collaborative culture within public services. At the same time, almost daily some commentator says we don’t need evaluation. Certainly our many strategies, plans, good practice guides, procedures and targets have not led to expected improvements in outcomes and that, in some cases, inequalities have become worse.
Is it research we need? Given that questions about how we should act and what difference we are making will always be with us, perhaps it is time to build-in a different type of ‘research-in-action’ into the fabric of our everyday practice?
This short article When are you ever not piloting? is written in the hope of generating debate about these issues. It is hoped to interest people from many kinds of organisations and communities.
See also the creative storyboard here
I think it is very important to hold to the idea that action research is one way to break down this barrier between living an inquiring life and research in a formal sense, and to see inquiry as part of a well-lived life, and of a healthy organisation and society.
So I love this quote from the great American playwright, Arthur Miller:
“There is hardly a week that passes when I don’t ask the unanswerable question: what am I now convinced of that will turn out to be ridiculous? And yet one can’t forever stand on the shore; at some point, filled with indecision, scepticism, reservation and doubt, you either jump in or concede that life is forever elsewhere”.
This means that action research is an attitude toward inquiry, not just a methodology.
Taken from Peter Reason, Choice and Quality in Action Research Practice, Keynote address, ALARPM 6th World Congress, PAR 10th World Congress, Pretoria, September 2003