CREW Impact Evaluation

Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters

Impact Evaluation

In partnership with Prof. Mark Reed from Fast Track Impact, the Institute for Methods Innovation was commissioned by CREW to investigate, showcase and explain how CREW projects develop impact. In addition, this strategic impact review was aimed at making evidence-based recommendations to enhance CREW’s future impact.


This review involved mixed-methods research, with an emphasis on creating ‘theories of change’ that visually encapsulated the CREW impact process. This included scoping analysis of relevant documents such as Annual Reports, as well as web and social media analytics.


The main focus of data collection for the research was CREW’s external stakeholders and CREW staff. A multi-stage research approach was used, starting with interviews with key CREW staff to orient the study, then extending out to external stakeholders and CREW researchers. Finally, participatory workshops conducted with both external stakeholders and CREW researchers were used to refine and elaborate preliminary findings.


This strategic analysis and impact evaluation was designed to inform CREW’s future work by:

1. Exploring and reviewing what, how, where and why information generated from CREW projects and the Centre’s related activities flows into and is used by Scotland’s wider water community (including policy, stakeholders, and research), and leads to different types of “impact”;


2. Providing evidence-based examples of information flow and impact generated from CREW projects and the Centre’s related activities which have led to tangible and immediate longer-term benefits for policy and its delivery, people and the water environment in Scotland;


3. Proposing (based on key findings, expert opinion, and best practice for other similar initiatives) future-facing implementable recommendations and options for enhancing information flow and maximising impact from CREW projects and the Centre’s related activities.

The results of the impact evaluation gave clear evidence of CREW’s impact on policy and benefits of CREW projects to wider stakeholders and society. Impact activities, enabling factors, intermediate outcomes, and actual benefits at different stages within the CREW project lifecycle were identified and summarised in high-level theories of change diagrams that can be found in the CREW Programme Report 2016-2022. Recommendations from the evaluation will inform further improvements to the Centre’s operations and formalise pathways to impact in the next Programme.