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2. Scope

‘Scoping’ refers to the initial stages of discovery and sense making within a research project. The way we scope a research question is often linked to our own passions and enthusiasms, and also to those of our collaborative networks, linked to our ‘open innovation’ model of research. Our initial methods include much ‘primary research’ often linked to anecdotal and oral accounts from stakeholders and dutyholders. There are many people we talk to manufacturers, providers, consumers. Before beginning a project we map out all the likely voices that need to be heard. Victims of crime as well as abusers will be among those we consult. Also crime prevention design advisors Architectecural Liaison officers who work for the police, or local counci staff, are often are very useful people to talk to, or special interest groups. Scoping can be one of the most inspired and creative stages of the open innovation process as it requires directors of research to piece together the information to hand to identify significant issues and knowledge gaps linked to societal trends and phenomena, and inform the most appropriate research direction. The information that feeds this process includes the consultation described above – but may also take the form of ethnographic methods and immersion technqiues.. We also enage with scholarship (desk based research/literature review) and crime science research. Scoping is often the longest stage of the project and usually begins without any funding in place. It involves the team in developing ideas, identifying knowledge gaps and research questions that may lead us to apply for external funding to undertake the research projects we want to do, usually from independent external research funding councils. Often in order to survive this period, practice-led designers and researchers may take on consultancy jobs that are linked to some of the questions we want to explore, so as to broaden our knowledge and experience of the problem. Alternatively, we might run a short CSM student project to brainstorm an area and prototype ideas, creating an ideas pool. The student help us figure out how to approach the problems we set and in the process rapidly prototyping responses to some of our hunches, and identifying what knowledge is most significant to designers and helping to identify those design research direction(s) that might be of greatest value to pursue. This helps us refine our thinking, it creates useful educational experiences for the students that we support with briefings derived from our own scoping research, external speakers and other studio feedback. It enables us to get more focused about the emphasis we have taken to design the questions and problems and reflect upon whether our responses are appropriate. Perhaps the best way forward is through practice. Practice quickly makes it evident whether elementary models like the crime triangle are of use. If not, we have alternative models for addressing more complex and subtle crime issues, in the form of Paul Ekblom’s frameworks.