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Quick Wins Case Study

Case Study - Securing Quick Wins

Research initiatives can produce excellent early opportunities to deliver useful outputs and so convince stakeholders of the value of becoming and remaining involved. Dr Mark Reed describes the enterprising steps taken by the Rural Economy and Land Use (Relu) Programme’s Sustainable Uplands project to achieve some easy ‘quick wins’.    

Most research projects start with a literature review phase. Although some of the findings may get published down the line – perhaps several years later – this phase is usually carried out for internal purposes and to help bring the project team up to speed. But there’s potential to achieve a lot more, much earlier with the material you generate.

It’s simple to turn preliminary material of this type into information briefings for decision-makers and post them on a website, for instance.

This is particularly important as decision-makers don’t have access to the kind of peer-reviewed literature that the research community can just take for granted. Researchers need to think about how they can quickly disseminate the current research base – and not just their own work – to policy-makers and others who urgently need a comprehensive body of evidence to support their deliberations.

In our project, we produced such information briefings to ensure that all stakeholders who went to our initial workshops had the same level of knowledge.

We’d already established a stakeholder advisory panel at the start of the project to provide a forum where we could ask our stakeholders to help identify key themes from their perspective. Four themes were highlighted – the future of hill farming, water in uplands, recreation and looking after grouse moor habitats – and we put together a briefing note on each. In addition, we asked the panel to provide feedback on the draft information briefings that we based on our initial literature review.

We also held a series of stakeholder interviews at an early stage, seeing a chance to make immediate use of these in our response to a policy consultation that ultimately led to new guidelines on heather and grass burning. Our use of anonymised quotes in our submission was praised by the team running the consultation, as it brought our response to life and gave insights into the opposing views of local stakeholders that would otherwise have been hard to capture. Just as importantly, the chance to influence Government policy increased stakeholders’ motivation to engage with the whole project.

With appropriate safeguards in place, then, you can start using qualitative research data almost as soon as it’s generated to provide preliminary outputs for stakeholders.