Institute for Social Renewal

Case Studies

Case studies

Case studies of engagement in action

It is important to us that we are a true civic university where our teaching and research and external engagement activities complement and support each other.

We encourage an approach amongst students and staff to work in a way that is sensitive the wider needs of society. We have the potential to deliver benefits not only to the employers who take on our students or the organisations who use our research, but to schools, local authorities, communities of interest and other stakeholders.

We have provided examples from across the University which demonstrate where staff and students are making a difference, and playing a role in civic society.

These examples are called Case Studies of Engagement in Action: projects or activities which have been set up within Schools, Centres and Institutes and may have been funded by the University, by a specific School in the University, by charities, endowments or by other means.

Get your facts right

Giving young people a say in research conducted in their school, this Social Renewal funded project is an example of working with those in the community to empower them to change their futures.

Professor Peter Hopkins from Newcastle School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, invited pupils from Shawlands Academy, Glasgow to Newcastle University. While they were here, they worked with him to produce a student-centred research protocol called Get Your Facts Right, which is being introduced in schools across Glasgow. The production of this set of guidelines gave them a say in how research is conducted in their school, and what part they want to have in its practice.

You can download the finished research protocol here: Get Your Facts Right

Developed because students wanted to be better informed about why research was being carried out and to have a greater say in how they participate, the protocol aims to make it easier for decisions about taking part in research to be student-led, rather than made by teachers. It also sets out how research should be conducted and how researchers should behave when working with young people.

Among the points made by students in the protocol are:

  • Students should be able to refuse to participate in research without having to give a reason. They should also have the option to choose a pseudonym if they wish.
  • Research should be motivated by social justice and be relevant to young people.
  • Students should be provided with written feedback about what researchers found from carrying out research in the school, and whether the research was successful.

Peter Hopkins, Professor of Social Geography at Newcastle University, worked with the S4 (Year 11) students at Shawlands Academy to develop the protocol, and is himself a former pupil of the school. He said: “Discussions about research involving young people frequently take place directly between school senior management and researchers, often without any consultation with the students about whether or not they would be interested in the research.  

The students said that taking part in research gives them a chance to explore a range of topics relevant to their lives, and helps them understand why they think the way they do and why they might disagree with their friends and classmates. As a guide to researchers, a summary of topics young people think are important is included in the protocol.

Shawlands Academy is frequently approached by social researchers as the school is within a diverse part of Glasgow. The new protocol provides a framework within which pupils and teachers will be able to make informed decisions about whether or not to participate in research.

While developing the protocol, the group of S4 students visited Newcastle University to talk to researchers to learn more about the research process. They then presented their finished work to officials from Glasgow City Council at a special event in June. The group is also mentoring and training younger pupils at the school so that there is a sustainable student voice in decisions about which research takes place at Shawlands Academy.

The findings of the research project have now been published in the new journal "Research For All" - an open access journal exploring the importance of public engagement to research. Read the full article below:

Students' ideas for the research protocol