Last week Glasgow Centre for Population Health [GCPH] and Scottish Community Development Center [SCDC] organised a workshop on Action research. The workshop had a great mix of people from community organisations, non-​government organisations, funding bodies, academia and the Scottish Government. They came together to talk about how action research as an approach and a tool can influence new ways in which decisions are reached with respective to our collective futures. This one-​day workshop looked at developing a process of inquiry and ideas to encourage further explorations and conversations with others in our communities and organisations. Through the day we looked at following questions:

  • As action researchers and practitioners, what are our aims, values, principles and practices? 
  • What do we hope will be possible as we seek new kinds of futures for communities and organisations?
  • How are we, both individually and collectively, already a resource for action research in Scotland?

The discussion led to understanding the similarities and differences in various Action Research school of thought. This gave an overview of what others (academic and non-​academic) are doing in action research. This was an opportunity to share our work with the wider world, knowing the benefits and what worked and what did not. It was commonly observed by the participants that sometimes Action Research is driven by Government Policies, it was suggested that we (public sector organisation and academia) need to realise the importance and generate our own agenda and new ideas rather than responding to Government Policies.

The practitioners thought that the community development works and community-​led works are most undervalued work at the moment. They raised issues that concern the longevity of the process in the community, also, the lack of further funding commitment to long-​term engagement to build trust. There were frustrations about Action Research not working at times and there is a lack of a platform that we can learn from our mistakes. This was referred by one the attendees as a ‘Ground-​Hog Day’. He said, “we seem to be going through the process over and over again and not actually learning anything form it”.

Enquiry question which leads to action: How do we get more community voices heard?

Making our-​self reachable:

  • Following National Standard for community engagement will help reach the unreachable.
  • There needs to be a radical change in how we engage with communities (understanding what works and what doesn’t).
  • Changing the language of how we engage with communities.
  • Sometimes ‘research’ is a scary word for communities. They should not feel like Ginny pigs who are over analysed which leads to consultation fatigue.
  • We should avoid using acronyms representing ourselves as an organisation but as a commoner, the community could relate to.

Community group capacity in short term and long term:

  • Persuading people to put more resources in the work.
  • A quality of practice – pulling audience together to influence policy.
  • Building better practice and long-​term influence.
  • Secondments within public sector organisation and community organisations to understand and contribute to each other work culture.
  • Community readiness to do research. Communities can be on a different part of the spectrum and not all communities are in the same space.