The Route Aware project used a touchtable in participatory research for exploring the spatial patterns of people’s recreational behaviour. It enabled the capture of people’s knowledge and experiences of walking routes. The principal scientific output from the project was a refereed paper on exploring landscape engagement through a participatory touchtable approach, by Conniff et al. (2017). The project expanded the Institute’s capabilities in the use of visual methods for the study of contested spaces, and enhanced interdisciplinary working through greater connectivity between researchers, and between researchers, the public and stakeholders.
Testing and evaluating the use of the touchtable with stakeholder and public participants enabled the development of its operational use in a number of other research areas including a project on the contested land issue of grazing on common land and an SSSI. In this project, the use of the touchtable enriched and enhanced communications between stakeholders on The research process connected public bodies (e.g. Crofting Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government Rural Payments Division), private sector (crofters, NFUS), advisors (SAC Consulting), and NGOs (European Forum on Natural Conservation and Pastoralism), to share different perspectives of the challenges faced by each party.
Overall, the project increased staff understanding of how to use a touchtable as an effective research tool. It has built Institute capacity through the development of the technical and personal skills of individual staff as well as bringing together a combination of staff who had not worked with each other previously and has helped leverage additional research funding.
An important element arising from the project was the evolution of an Institute approach to ensuring research using visual methods complies with the best standards of research ethics.