Ethnographic research, which is usually filmed, involves observing respondents in their everyday life. Film can be a powerful tool for bringing the voices of communities and individuals into the heart of policy and service development, design and evaluation. ‘Film as research’ is much more than just on-camera interviews; filmmaking is used to gather evidence, to analyse, to interpret and to inspire investigative thinking.

We often use ethnographic techniques alongside more traditional qualitative research as the two techniques can complement each other extremely well. The production of a film can be extremely effective as a tool for communicating research findings with additional impact.


Peer research

Peer research is a process where community members are supported to undertake research interviews with their peers. It shifts the control and ownership of the research process away from research professionals and towards the research audience, resulting in more collaborative research design and interpretation. This kind of technique is particularly helpful when reaching out to vulnerable and disenfranchised audiences who may distrust a professional researcher and open up more to someone who shares their experience and perspective


Informed dialogue (deliberative approaches)

Informed dialogue techniques go beyond the insight that traditional research methods deliver. The processes of open two-way discussion, in which participants are provided with opportunities to learn about complex issues (and often controversial decisions), as well as to give their opinions can be used to engage communities directly in the development of policy, strategies and services.

We have experience of a wide range of activities involving informed dialogue, including:

  • Citizens Juries
  • Workshops
  • Deliberative events
  • Collaborative and consensus building exercises
  • Customer dialogue sessions
  • Participatory budgeting


Engagement communities

Moving towards continuous community engagement is increasingly important to many organisations. Building an ongoing community of people who are willing and interested to have dialogue about your issues can provide immense value. Such communities are taking many forms – some are relatively small in scale and develop a close knowledge of the client and its dilemmas. Others are larger, with feedback at both qualitative and quantitative levels. In either case the key is to maintain the relationship over the long term.

We can help to design, manage and run a successful engagement community on your behalf, making sure those involved remain engaged and committed to continuing the dialogue.



Co-design or co-production techniques put the respondent at the heart of design of services and products. Respondents are given creative tasks as well as being involved in verbal discussions. They might also collaborate directly with professional designers. This approach involves the target audience directly in the design of the concept that is intended for them.


Community conversations

Sometimes, all that’s needed is a series of informal chats and the best place to do that is out in the community, in the places that people are just going about their daily lives. We can set up at a festival, street party or shopping centre and simply ask people to stop and chat for 5 minutes. Usually the offer of tea and biscuits is persuasive and it’s amazing how rich the feedback can be!