Compiling the wiki

Gathering the evidence

This page describes how and with what degree of rigour the initial evidence used to populate this wiki was selected. As new evidence is added, the Editor will apply the same approach when approving new entries.

Evidence reviews are a standard approach used in the sciences to establish what is known and what is not known about a particular topic. They are particularly popular in the medical sciences where different studies can present conflicting findings on an issue and where there is a need to gauge the sum total of knowledge quickly and effectively in order to draw robust and reliable overarching conclusions. This wiki focuses on mapping out and presenting the wide range of research on the value added by the quality of place.

Whilst the evidence presented is truly international in its origins, the search was restricted to English language articles with an inevitable bias towards evidence from the USA and the UK as a map of the initial selection shows. As the wiki develops, studies from anywhere in the world are very welcome, although need to be either published in English, or contain a comprehensive English language summary.

Searching for the initial evidence

The initial data to populate this wiki derived from a number of systematic searches conduced in 2017. These used the Science Direct and Sage Databases, Google Scholar, and existing known bibliographies on the subject. The latter included the 2003 unpublished study led by Prof Matthew Carmona, A Bibliography of Design Value, which underpinned the 2002 CABE publication The Value of Good Design and in 2004 The Value of Public Space.

In the period since those reviews were been conducted, research on many aspects of the subject has ballooned, as have: the diversity of studies, the range of primary disciplines within which they are published, and the methodologies employed by researchers. Whilst publications included in these early reviews are still relevant, this broadening of the evidence based relating to the built environment necessitated a similar broadening in the view taken about 'quality'. ‘Place’ rather than ‘design’ quality is the focus; albeit how place is designed remains key.

Whilst evidence reviews in the medical sciences avoid publications that have not gone through a peer-reviewing process and publication in an academic journal, in the built environment field much valuable research is produced by companies, charities and public sector organisations and distributed via reports. As long as such work met the inclusion criteria discussed below, this ‘grey’ literature was also included in the review.

After removing duplicates between the different searches, 13,700 records were identified for possible inclusion in the review.

Selecting the best evidence

From this long list of possible studies, a series of inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to narrow the selection down across three levels. First, through simply reviewing the title of the publication to determine its relevance. Second, at the level of the abstract, and third by exploring the text in full. Four inclusion criteria were used (and continue to be used) to assess the identified evidence against, see: How to add your research.

When a research project resulted in more than one paper by the same team, only the more comprehensive paper was included in the wiki. The review also generally excluded research focusing exclusively on the internal spaces of buildings, in other words, there needed to be an urban dimension or implication to the research before it was included.

All 13,700 studies were examined against the inclusion criteria by one or, in the case of borderline cases, two researchers. In total, 271 studies were considered worthy of inclusion in the wiki; 2% of the studies identified. These form the basis of the four substantive ‘evidence’ sections of the wiki. Whilst every effort has been made to locate studies where they best fit, some research inevitably spans a number of categories.

Many excellent sources of evidence are likely to have been missed in the search, and new research is being conducted all of the time. New contributions are therefore welcome and will be assessed against the same criteria. Please follow the links to add your own research or that of others!