The School has a strong tradition of engaging with research users. We achieve this through direct involvement with policy debates within local, national and international government and working with groups and organisations in the public, private and third sector.
Projects across the School have been highlighted as excellent examples of impactful research on the University research website. These case studies include:
- the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences research centre
- post trafficking livelihoods for women in Nepal
- common European security and defence policy
- Newcastle Fairness Commission
Electoral Integrity and Management in BritainElectoral Integrity and Management in Britain
Politics Dept, Newcastle
Project outline: Understanding the integrity of the electoral process is central to understanding any other aspect of democratic politics. Electoral integrity has therefore become a thriving ‘new agenda’ in politics research (Norris, 2013). Much research has focused on democratising countries. However, as problems in advanced democracies have shown, the integrity of the electoral process cannot be taken for granted. Problems have been found in many countries, from the controversial elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump, to the Austrian Presidential contest in 2016 which had to be rerun because of administrative difficulties. These issues affect whether people can register to vote and cast those votes free of undue influence. Britain has not been immune from such difficulties, with cases of postal vote fraud, queues at polling stations and allegations of fraudulent ballots being cast at polling stations among other things.
This research examines these questions in the UK context. It has covered five main areas:
- The performance of election administration and management
- Identifying the determinants of high performance in electoral administration
- The relationship between election administration and funding
- Polling station workers
- Regulation of the electoral and political process
A policy briefing outlining some key findings and recommendations is available on request.
Project outcomes: There have been a variety of project outcomes. Research from this project has been published in leading academic journals and collections, with further work under preparation. Alistair Clark is a member of Electoral Management, a network of international scholars examining these issues (http://www.electoralmanagement.com/). Current publications include:
- Clark, A. and James, T. S. (2017) ‘Poll Workers’ in P. Norris and A. Nai (Eds.) Election Watchdogs: Transparency, Accountability and Integrity, New York: OUP.
- Clark A. Identifying the Determinants of Electoral Integrity and Administration in Advanced Democracies: The Case of Britain.European Political Science Review 2016, epub ahead of print.
- Clark A. The relationship between political parties and their regulators. Party Politics 2015, e-pub ahead of print.
- Clark A. Public Administration and the Integrity of the Electoral Process in British Elections. Public Administration 2015, 93(1), 86-102.
- Clark A. Investing in Electoral Management. In: P. Norris, R. Frank & F. Martinez I Coma, ed. Advancing Electoral Integrity. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp.165-188.
This research has been presented at numerous international conferences, including those of the international Electoral Integrity Project (https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/) and has contributed to policy debate on a number of issues related to electoral integrity and management. Citations in policy reports include:
- Report by Alistair Clark and Toby James (UEA) with assistance from Judy Murray (Newcastle) to the Electoral Commission on electoral administration in the EU Referendum, published in full on their website. This contributed to the Electoral Commission Report to Parliament on 2016 EU Referendum. Both are available here (http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/elections-and-referendums/past-elections-and-referendums/eu-referendum)
- Clark/James research into the EU Referendum cited in the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee report on Lessons Learned from the EU Referendum. This is available here (https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubadm/496/496.pdf)
- House of Commons Briefing Paper (CDP00131) 2016 on Automatic Registration in UK Elections available here (http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2016-0131#fullreport)
- Securing the Ballot 2016 – Report of Sir Eric Pickles’ inquiry into electoral fraud available here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/securing-the-ballot-review-into-electoral-fraud)
- Written evidence to Scottish parliament inquiry into payments to Returning Officers, available at (http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Local_Gov/Inquiries/20161107_ReturningOfficers_AClarkSubmission.pdf)
- Citation in Scottish Parliament Local Government Committee report into Payments to Returning Officers in Scotland, available here (http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Local_Gov/Reports/LGCS052017R01.pdf)
Acknowledgments: Some of the research noted above has been funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust (Grant Number: SG140099), and the UK Electoral Commission (both joint with Dr. Toby James, University of East Anglia)
Collaborative housing, citizen story-telling, and community-based volunteeringCollaborative housing, citizen story-telling, and community-based volunteering
Intersecting projects including:
- ESRC Seminar Series: ES/M002012/1, 2014-2016
- Newcastle University FREF Grant., 2010-2012
- Newcastle University Institute of Social Renewal Award, 2015
- School Learning and Teaching Development Fund, 2016
Location: UK, USA, Australia, and Denmark
Team members: Helen Jarvis
The ESRC seminars represent collaboration between the UK Cohousing Network (hyperlink word to site: https://cohousing.org.uk/) and six UK universities; Lancaster, Leeds, London School of Economics, Newcastle (principal applicant), Nottingham and Sheffield.
Project outline: A series of intersecting projects consider past, present and future communal living arrangements. Discovery combines a network of learning and support for the growth of community led housing as a sector (including action to establish a Tyne and Wear Community Housing Alliance) and, within this, specific focus on cohousing in the UK today. Working with a range of partner organisations, including student volunteers on placement, the project(s) emphasise engagement as a process of relationship building and dialogue, as a motivation and method of co-production. Concern for the entanglement of individual agency with ‘we-intentions’ that shape mutual belief, group phenomena, and joint action.
Project outcomes: Findings from the Collaborative Housing seminars were presented in Parliament on the 22nd June 2016 with a launch of a final report ‘Cohousing: Shared Futures’
The launch was held in the Boothroyd Room of Portcullis House and was hosted by Richard Bacon MP.
A dedicated web-site exists for the seminar series: https://collaborativehousing.net/
Output include a short film of observations both on key themes and from people taking part in our programme of seminars and site visits.
The NISR citizen-led story-telling project generated a souvenir brochure (Salmon Fishing on the Tweed)
Student placements are promoted in this video
Also UG summer scholarships have resulted in local media interest.
Prague Fringe Audience Survey & Impact Report (2016)Prague Fringe Audience Survey & Impact Report (2016)
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Team members: Professor Robert Hollands (Sociology, Newcastle University), Steve Gove (Director and Founder, Prague Fringe Festival), Carole Wears (Associate Director, Prague Fringe Festival)
Project outline: The project involved conducting the third (previous surveys and reports have been conducted in 2007 and 2011) audience survey and impact report of the 2016 Prague Fringe. The survey includes accessible data on audience demographics, attendance patterns, knowledge and views of the fringe, participating artists, festival assistants and the economic impact of the fringe.
Project outcomes: The project outcomes include an impact and engagement seminar at Newcastle University to launch the report entitled ‘Lovin’ Your Work: Impact, Engagement and the Prague Fringe’, involving all three team members. In addition, the report will be utilised to draw attention to various features of the Prague Fringe, particularly its economic and cultural impacts on the city, and will be targeted at culture and tourism personnel in Prague City Council. It will also be of use to the fringe directors for forward planning, as well as helpful to future participating artists, audiences, and festival assistants.
Website links: Prague Fringe
Acknowledgments: We would like to acknowledge funding from the GPS Impact Fund, Newcastle University, in the production of the report, and the Leverhulme Trust for funding Professor Hollands’, Major Research Fellowship, ‘Urban Cultural Movements and the Struggle for Alternative Creative Space’ of which the Prague research output forms part of.
Keeping Enough in ReserveKeeping Enough in Reserve
Title: Keeping Enough in Reserve: the employment and identities of military personnel and the Future Reserves 2020 programme
Location: Newcastle University and the University of Bristol
Project outline: This research is about the employment and identity issues faced by reservists serving with the British Army, Royal Air Force and the Naval Service. The project is framed around three questions:
- What are the implications of the Future Reserves 2020 programme for ideas about military participation, civilian identity and citizenship?
- What is the role of employers and wider labour markets in shaping the armed forces reserves, particularly participation in the Volunteer Reserve?
- How do reservists themselves consider their identities as civilian employees and military personnel?
To do this research, we are using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. We have been interviewing serving reservists, and employers, about their perceptions of Reserves participation.
We are focusing our research on the Newcastle upon Tyne and Bristol areas.
This project is one of four in the Future Reserves Research Programme.
This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and British Army, grant reference: ES/L012944/1). This research has MODREC approval, application reference 615/MODREC/15.
Project outcomes: Research outcome will be published over the next two years. The project formally ends in mid-2018.
See also Edmunds, T, Dawes, A., Higate, P., Jenkings, K.N. and Woodward, R. (2016) Reserve Forces and the Transformation of British Military Organisation: Soldiers, Citizens and Society. Defence Studies 16 (2): 118-136. Available free at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14702436.2016.1163225
Acknowledgments: This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and British Army, grant reference: ES/L012944/1). This research has MODREC approval, application reference 615/MODREC/15. It is one of four projects in the Future Reserves Research Programme, and further information is available at: http://www.future-reserves-research.ac.uk/
Flower harvesters in the Cape Floral Region: sustainable supply chain from field to marketFlower harvesters in the Cape Floral Region: sustainable supply chain from field to market
What was the focus of the research project?
ESRC and Leverhulme Trust-funded research conducted by Dr Alex Hughes in collaboration with Prof Cheryl McEwan (Durham University) and Dr David Bek (Coventry University) has worked with flower harvesters in the Cape Floral Region (CPR) of South Africa, evaluating a sustainable supply chain from field to market by partnering with the Flower Valley Conservation Trust. The CPR is a global biodiversity hotspot with around 9,000 plant species native to the region. The flowers are harvested according to a Sustainable Harvesting Programme, arranged in ‘Cape Flora’ bouquets by local workers and sold to domestic and international markets.
Why is it important to civil society?
The research was essential in understanding how sustainable wildflower harvesting benefits local economies in South Africa and conserves native plant species. Dr Hughes' team worked with communities who harvest fynbos to develop a flower guide translated into Afrikaans and isi-Xhosa as well as English. The guide describes what species of flowers can be picked and how to pick them. It helps harvesters understand the difference between the many different types of fynbos plants to avoid picking flowers that are scarce. The project is an exemplar for how to work with communities and organisations to make supply chains sustainable and to practice conservation of biodiversity.
How is it addressing challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals?
The research exemplifies that the creation of fair jobs, trade and conservation of biodiversity is not only possible, but profitable improving the local economy therefore reducing poverty, encouraging responsible consumption and promoting the sustainable use of land by protecting valuable flora. It also demonstrates how locally managed practices in sustainability encourage economic prosperity and environmental protection.
Key Findings & Outcomes:
- The flower supply chain is an example of ethical trade as local sites of production must adhere to environmental and social standards.
- The project has led to a guide for sustainable harvesting that benefits the ecosystem.
- Demonstrating that ‘sustainable wild flower harvesting’ works for both the ecosystem and economy discourages unsustainable practices such as developing the land for grazing or vineyards, and convinces landowners to conserve natural resources.
- The project successfully engaged with well-known supermarkets who sell the Cape Flora bouquets.