Research Approach

Shared Assets undertakes research that supports our goal to galvanise a common good land movement. We want to help people using or stewarding the land for the common good to find out more about their work and that of their peers. From our experience, people are often so busy doing the vital, everyday, on the ground work to keep projects functioning, that they find it incredibly hard to make time to engage in research, or use its results to think strategically about ways to deepen their impact. By fundraising for and coordinating some of this research work, Shared Assets wants to build a comprehensive evidence base to inform action within, and to expand, the common good land movement, strengthen local and national networks, and to amplify the policy and funding recommendations put forward by speaking in a collective voice.

Commitment to Ethical Research Principles and Practice

We believe it’s not just the outcomes of research which are important, but also the approach and structures we use to do research work, and we intend to keep developing these, and learning from them as an organisation, to make our work meaningful and transformative. To this end, we have developed the six principles below to guide us. 

Research undertaken by Shared Assets aims to be:

  • Participatory – We start from the premise that the people with expertise on common good land use are the people who work with the land every day, or would like to. As far as possible we will use methods that involve people affected by the issues being researched in the design, implementation and evaluation of research, allowing a wider group of people to learn new skills and build stronger relationships within their communities. For more detailed information on how we strive to do this – see here
  • Generous – We will endeavour to compensate people for their time and effort in research projects, and aim to channel money directly to the sector via our research work. At times this may mean we suggest another person in our network to take on a piece of research which they have specific experience of or expertise in
  • Accessible – We will consider ways to make research participation accessible for anyone who wants to take part, for example by paying transport costs or considering the timing and location of research events. We aim to be proactive in finding ways to involve people who are under-represented in the land sector because of structural inequalities, including those around race, gender, and class. We will also usually share both the summarised findings of our research, and the datasets produced freely online, so others can learn from and build on our work, following the principle of ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. This means personal data will be processed in line with current data protection legislation (see our Privacy Policy), and results will often be anonymised to protect research participants/co-researchers from any potential harm that might result from their participation. However, where research participants/co-researchers find it empowering to be named and recognised for their work, we will include identifying details with their explicit consent. For more information, see our Research Data Management Policy. We will also try to avoid academic or overly technical language, so everyone can engage with the results of our research
  • Timely and relevant – We don’t want to undertake research for research’s sake, we want to investigate the most pressing issues our community of common good land users/stewards is facing, and be ready to present findings at key moments to spark change (e.g. inputting into a new piece of legislation, or submitting evidence to an enquiry)
  • Practical – We don’t want research that many people have put time and thought into to gather dust on a shelf, so we will present findings in creative ways so they become tools which can be referred back to again and again as a basis for forward planning/ongoing action and inspiration

By following these principles, we hope to use the principles of the commons not just as an end goal, but as a method for getting there. We want to bring communities and activists in as partners in research, not ‘subjects’. In this way, we hope our research will upskill people, and benefit from and value their expertise as practitioners to produce compelling results.

If this approach resonates with you, and you’d like to collaborate in research with us, please email research@sharedassets.org.uk, or check out our ongoing research projects here.