Identifying Issues

As a community group it is important to know and understand the priorities of the wider community in which you live.  To do this, you will need to conduct research, and this section contains a range of resources that will introduce you to some simple yet effective ways to conduct research with your communty that puts community members at the heart of the process. 

You can browse through all the resources below, or click on the following links to go straight to resources on community-led action research, research with equalities groups and other creative approaches.



ARC: A practical guide to community-led action research

ARC coverThis is a clearly written, practical, guide for community and voluntary groups carrying out research in and with their communities.  

The guide is based on Scottish Community Development Centre's  experience of developing and delivering 3 Community-led Action Research programmes between 2003 and 2011.


Beyond the Anecdote

Beyond the Anecdote front pageThis briefing from Community Health Exchange (CHEX) introduces story dialogue as way to do research with your community  and share lessons across public and community/voluntary sectors.


Community-led Action Planning Toolkit

Community-led action plans are a way for communities to change and improve their local area by setting out what will be done, who will do it and how it will be carried out. This toolkit has been developed for Argyll & Bute Council by Scottish Community Development Centre.


Demonstrating the links

Demonstrating the links summary reportPrior to ARC, Scottish Community Development Centre worked in partnership with Greenspace Scotland on the Demonstarting the Links programme, which helped eight community groups from across Scotland to investigate the impact of their own community greenspace.


Doing and evaluating community research

This guide aims to help community partners and academics maximise the benefits of research that is coproduced between communities and academic researchers based in a university.


This website for community education has an informative section on action research.  There's also a handy guide to focus groups.



People and Nature: Learning through Doing

Learning through Doing report coverScottish Community Development Centre worked with Scottish Natural Heritage to support community projects/groups to explore the barriers and enablers for people from disadvantaged communities in accessing nature and the outdoors.


The Place Standard

Place Standard wheel imageThe Place Standard is a tool that can help you to think about the physical elements of a place (e.g. its buildings, spaces, and transport links) as well as the social aspects (e.g. whether people feel they have a say in decision making). The tool provides prompts for discussions, allowing you to consider all the elements of place in a methodical way.


When are you ever not ‘piloting'? How action research can help to deliver better public services

In this paper, Cathy Sharp of Research for Real argues that action research is a way of overcoming the endless cycle of research pilots which too often don't make an impact on the social problems they intend to address. 

The paper highlights this approach within the context of Scotland's public service reform debate, and concludes with 10 tips for getting started.



Scottish Community Development Centre

SCDC has previously supported community groups to carry out action research with their communities through programmes such as SCARF, Learning through Doing and Demonstrating the Links. SCDC logoVisit the SCDC website to find out what support may be available, and to find further contact details.


Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics

Scottish Government logo

This Scottish Government website gives access to a range of official statistics about neighbourhoods in Scotland. You can find data on health, education, poverty, unemployment, housing, population, crime and social/community issues.