2 August 2017

Meeting change-makers: connecting research and the ‘real world’

At What Works Scotland we support several PhD researchers working on topics that will deepen our understanding of different aspects of public service reform. 

Kirsty Deacon writes about undertaking an internship with the Scottish Government where she researched the role of u.lab, an online course for developing skills around collaboration and co-production, in supporting Scotland's public service change-makers.


25 July 2017

How can place-based approaches be used in rural Scotland?

A place-based approach has become more prominent in Scottish policymaking in the last few years, particularly as a result of the recommendations of the Christie Commission on the delivery of public services and the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. 

But what does this mean for Scotland's rural areas?

Jane Atterton, Manager and Policy Researcher at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) discusses the implications, currently also the subject of joint research by SRUC Rural Policy Centre staff and colleagues at the James Hutton Institute. The research is being funded by the Scottish Government Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment (RAFE) Strategic Research Portfolio 2016-21.

11 May 2017

Facilitative Leadership: Involving citizens and communities in local decision-making


A new era of community participation in local democracy requires public services staff to develop skills for collaborative engagement.

Here  Claire Bynner, Oliver Escobar and Wendy Faulkner describe a What Works Scotland project to create a training course that would develop and cascade skills in facilitative leadership.

27 April 2017

Can asset-based community development help to address health inequalities?

Assets approaches to addressing disadvantage have become popular in recent years. What does the term mean, and how do the different interpretations of an 'assets approach' impact on their outcomes?

To conclude in our short series about asset-based community development, What Works Scotland PhD student Sarah Ward discusses the benefits of using the capabilities framework to identify clear objectives for asset-based work.

20 April 2017

Positive conversations, meaningful change: learning from Animating Assets

In the second of our series on asset-based community development, Dr Jennifer McLean, Public Health Programme Manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, describes Animating Assets, a research and learning project that explored what difference working in asset-based way made in communities and services.

6 April 2017

Asset-Based Community Development: Sustainable development is about discoverables; not deliverables

Over the next few weeks we shall be publishing a short series of blogs focused on asset-based community development (ABCD). 

To get us started, in this guest blog Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development, introduces collective efficacy and grassroots power.

24 January 2017

In an era of killer soundbites how can researchers and policy-makers close the gap between complexity and simplicity?

In the world today, simple but wrong answers are preferred to complex and right answers. Policy-makers are often more interested in a good soundbite than a detailed and tailored understanding of a complex world. So… in this 'post-truth era', is complexity becoming a dirty word? Or is the dirty word 'post-truth'?

Here Dr Claire Bynner, Research Associate at What Works Scotland, shares some of the highlights from the Social Research Association’s annual conference* and discusses how we might bridge the gap between complexity and simplicity, drawing on examples from evaluation research.

18 January 2017

Getting evidence into action: how can we understand what we already know?

What Works Scotland Co-director Dr Sarah Morton writes about the processes involved in setting up an Evidence Bank to support public and voluntary sector partners in accessing existing research evidence to help to inform decision-making.

Recently published in Evidence and Policy journal, she describes the work she has led at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships where she has been developing knowledge exchange (KE) over the last decade.  Sarah is also Co-director of the Centre.

9 January 2017

Messy collaboration

How we ensure that diversity flourishes in collaborations and partnerships?

What Works Scotland co-director Ken Gibb reflects on the argument of applied economist Tim Hartford in his new book on  creativity and resilience.