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Assessing the Value of Community-Generated Research

Details of a project which looked at the potential value of community-led research, carried out by voluntary groups, for understanding wider research questions and for providing evidence to be included in local Historic Environment Records.

Looking beyond known social value

The social and communal value of participating in heritage is well recognised. However, what is not so well known is the research value that community-led research may have – in particular to enhance Historic Environment Records and Research Frameworks.

To fill in this gap in our understanding, we commissioned Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service to undertake a project to find out:

  • The amount of historic environment research being undertaken by community groups.
  • The potential research value of their investigations for enhancing Historic Environment Records and Research Frameworks.

This project was not about assessing the quality of people's research, rather its potential value to improve the way we determine priorities and inform decisions on planning issues, research priorities and strategies for safeguarding the historic environment.

The survey of community groups included archaeological (terrestrial and marine), historic-building and local history groups and societies. The British Association for Local History (BALH) was a project partner as this project for the first time aimed to assess the potential research value of local history research.

Key areas covered by the project

The report covers a number of key areas of research and includes a number of conclusions and recommendations on the following:

  • The types of groups and societies carrying out research.
  • The range of activities carried out.
  • The quantity of research undertaken.
  • The reasons why people undertake their research.
  • Awareness and use of Research Frameworks.
  • Where the research goes.
  • The impact of professional support, advice and funding.
  • Any issues affecting researcher's capacity to carry out or share their research.

You can download the executive summary and full report below.

Assessing the Value of Community-Generated Historic Environment Research

Assessing the Value of Community-Generated Historic Environment Research

A project to assess how much historic environment research is generated by community volunteers and how this research fits into wider research and planning systems.


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Photograph of Dan Miles
Dan Miles

Research Resources Officer

Capacity Building Team

Research Group