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

Learning and Outcomes from Leadership for Integration, Final Report 2018, NHS Education for Scotland, SSSC and RCGPS

Reducing Pressure Ulcers in Care Homes Improvement Programme – Case Studies, Scottish Patient Safety Programme, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, 2017

Practising Collaborative Leadership: Reflection and Learning from the Enabling Collaborative Leadership Pioneer Programme, with What Works Scotland, June 2016

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

“It’s All in the Mix” – An Evaluation of the Lothian Living Leadership Programme 2013–14, Cathy Sharp, 2014

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

Healthy Weight Communities Lessons for programme design and delivery from the Action Inquiry Process Cathy Sharp, 2011

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

Enhancing Sexual Wellbeing in Scotland – A Sexual Health And Relationships Strategy – Analysis of Non-Written Responses to the Public Consultation, Cathy Sharp, 2005

The improvement of public sector delivery: supporting evidence based practice through action research, Cathy Sharp   (2005) 

Useful guidance and toolkits

Is this the best it can be? A reflective toolkit for artists,  arts organisations, partners  and participants, Creative Scotland, 2016. Guidance notes and tools are available to download here.

Older but still 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

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.  Telling stories through drama

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