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Our Range of Methods

Researcher filming farmer for a video

Image showing people picking vegetablesAcross the group we use a range of methods, which reflects our disciplinary variety and also the requirements of particular research questions and topics.

We are developing our open-science research practices and processes.  We are at the cutting edge of exploring how a commitment to transparency - both of the research process and research data - can be balanced with the need to uphold the highest ethical standards and respect the confidentiality of research participants. Our contribution to the International Land Use Study Centre (ILUSC) also reflects and reinforces our commitment to open science.

Our varied approaches to data collection and analysis

Some of our long-standing 'traditional' methods of data collection, are postal and online surveys, interviews, focus groups and workshops.  To analyse these data we use - and often combine - a variety of quantiative and qualitative approaches for analysis, ranging from R and other statistical and econometric packages through to Leximancer and Nvivo. We also have expertise in secondary data analysis, ranging from content analysis of policy documents through to working with census demographic datasets to understand rural trends.  We sometimes combine or incorporate spatial data analysis (GIS) often in collaborations with colleagues in ICS

We also have expertise in innovative and creative methods, including 'walk alongs' and especially a variety of visual methods, ranging from photo prompts for discussions through to partipatory video. These methods are often excellent for aiding discursive community engagement and fostering knowledge exchange.  More information on visual methods and participatory methods is detailed below.

Participatory methods

SEGS frequently uses participatory methods to encourage stakeholder input in our research.   Depending on the project, stakeholder involvement can range from sharing preferences, through to full co-design. This type of work often responds to community concerns, and works with communities, for example discussing employment of community researchers. Some of our work that engages with or is co-produced with communities has led to collaborative documentaries such as 'Grazing on the Edge' and 'Smart Ageing'.

Our participatory methods are also used with other stakeholder groups, and respond to topical issues in society and policy. For example, we have supported workshops to discuss governance and partnership working with members of Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) set up under Scotland's Land Use Strategy.  Some of this work incorporates use of an interactive TouchTable and the Institute's Virtual Landscape Theatre.

Visual methods

SEGS researchers are increasingly using visual methods both as means of dissemination and as a means of data collection. Visual methods rely on mediums such as film, photography and drawings to both capture and understand specific experiences and to communicate the findings. Specifically, within SEGS we use visual methods including:

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.