Engaging and empowering communities and stakeholders in rural land use and land management in Scotland

Report on how best to assist rural communities to engage with decisions on land use and land management.

3 Research Methods

This section briefly summarises the research methods with more details provided in a separate Technical Report.

This research followed four stages:

  • Stage 1: Background research, policy familiarisation and development of evaluation criteria.

The literature review included peer reviewed and published papers from academic journals and literature produced by engagement specialists and organisations.

One of the research requirements was to develop a clear theoretical framework based on prior research, and including the relationship between empowerment, engagement and practical action. In response to this, the team adapted, tested and developed a framework for thinking about responsibility and power (see section 4.2).

  • Stage 2: Development of approach and limited collection of primary data

The primary data was gathered through targeted semi structured interviews and online surveys (see Table 2).

Table 2 Methods for collecting qualitative data


Number of responses

Semi structured interviews with managers in SNH, FCS and SEPA


Semi structured interviews with Project Officers in SNH, FCS, SEPA and three partnership projects


Online survey about opportunities and challenges of doing engagement and empowerment in land use and land management

75 of which 46 substantively or fully completed

Success Story Survey

23 of which 14 substantively or fully completed

The Project Management Group suggested respondents for semi-structured interviews. We asked each person to sign a confidentiality agreement, and to check the typed record of what they had said. Each interview lasted about an hour.

We sent the online survey links to our database of approximately 600 contacts in Scotland. This included researchers and land managers. It also went out via the Project Management Group and their contacts, and to projects (identified through desktop research) that are carrying out engagement and empowerment work in Scotland. Recipients were also asked to disseminate the invitation to their own networks so it had wider reach.

  • Stage 3: Analysis of Data and development of conclusions

The main method of analysis for all the qualitative data was 'emergent analysis' where similar points are coded and clustered together. Unlike searching for pre-determined topics, this approach avoided the risk of missing new and different perspectives. Instead, ideas emerged and novel or unique perspectives remained in view. From this clustering of similar ideas we were able to tease out recurring ideas and themes.

  • Stage 4: Reporting

Two reports were produced: this research report and a separate Technical Report.


Back to top