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July 31, 2019

Knowledge is Power

Academic interest in communities has increased exponentially in recent years and this probably reflects the wider policy shifts towards community empowerment, land reform and more participatory and deliberative forms of democracy. Communities are generally pleased to support this research on the basis that it all adds to the common body of knowledge. But it’s also a one-way process with most of the research value being extracted away from the community. Knowledge is Power proposes to reverse this by offering communities the chance to determine their own research questions, to gather the evidence, and benefit directly from the results.


Scottish Community Development Centre and The Poverty Alliance have announced a new support resource for community-led action research, jointly funded by Scottish Government and The National Lottery Community Fund.

The two-year programme will fund six community organisations to develop their own evidence to influence change in their communities – and to take forward actions for improvement. The research evidence generated by the community organisations will be brought together through a new website and used to help shape policy at a national level across Scotland.

Community-led action research is where the community decides on the issue to be researched, designs and carries out the research, and makes use of the results.

This makes community-led action research different from traditional research which tends to be conducted on the community by researchers from outside the community.

A new website,, will bring together the experiences of the six projects, and will highlight how community-led action research can be used across Scotland to support communities to take action on the issues important to them.

In 2018 SCDC and the Poverty Alliance jointly published ‘Knowledge is Power’. This report was the result of series of conversations with community organisations about what is needed to support them to undertake their own research into the issues that affect them, or the opportunities they want to pursue. This work has now come to fruition with the launch of the Knowledge is Power programme.

Maureen McGinn, The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Chair, said:

“People understand what’s needed in their communities, and we believe that when people are in the lead, then communities thrive. Community-led action research empowers individuals and groups to generate and use evidence to influence and achieve positive change in their community. That is why I am delighted to see National Lottery funding supporting this project along with funding from the Scottish Government.”

Fiona Garven, Director of SCDC, welcomed the new resource saying that:

“We are delighted at this announcement. Community-led action research is about putting communities in control of the generation of evidence needed to support better policy making and better decision making about where resources should be targeted. This funding will give communities the opportunity to make their case for the changes they know they need, backed up by their own robust research evidence.”

More information and details on how to apply to be part of the programme will be announced shortly at