Research Institute

Research and Evaluation

We focus on understanding the implementation of efficacious approaches in order to maximise real world effectiveness. This includes producing high-quality, ground breaking and rigorous research that contributes to supporting people across the UK to be physically active. Research is conducted for the purpose of achieving sector, policy, and academic impact and informing decision making.

The ukactive Research Institute is experienced in designing and implementing a wide range of original research and evaluation projects using mixed methods research approaches to capture data and measure impact using robust, accurate, rigorous, and adaptable methods. We take a pragmatic approach based upon understanding the desired aims, developing specific research questions, and employing appropriate and feasible descriptive or experimental designs. We use academic led research methods but ensure these are feasible in a real-world setting, and report and share outputs in appropriate, translatable formats. This is often through sector facing reports, presentations or infographics, as well as academic presentations or manuscripts.

Our research spans ukactive’s strategic pillars, whilst also exploring new areas of physical activity research. We have a proven track record of producing evaluation frameworks to measure and evidence impact in different settings and for specific populations across the lifespan including: inactive and frail older adults, working age adults, students, and school children and families. We employ the highest standards of scientific rigour to our work favouring transparency, openness, and replicability.  Findings from each research and evaluation project are often presented in a sector and/or openly accessible academic facing reports for maximum impact.

We are happy to discuss the needs of any specific projects and offer additional bespoke services as required.

To view some of our current and historical projects please click here



A methodology suitable for understanding trends and behaviour of a large sample of individuals, captured through physiological data, surveys or data base analysis.
A methodology that is suitable for understanding the behaviours, experiences and opinions of individuals in more depth and detail, allowing more complex issues and concepts to be explored through semi-structured interviews and focus groups.
Mixed-Methods Research
A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, often combined through triangulation, which uses both methodologies to most effectively answer a multi-layered research question(s).


Literature Reviews
Literature reviews (either rapid, systematic or meta-analysis) follow a robust academic process to review and synthesise existing academic and grey literature. This is to understand current knowledge on a particular topic and identify knowledge gaps that require future research, direct intervention or recommendations.
Analysis of Existing Data
Analysis, including statistical, of data that has already been captured. This involves interpretation of this data in line with a specific research question(s) and can involve data that is either quantitative or qualitative.

Bespoke data analytics

Our team can use the information you are already collecting to produce insight reports to help you get the most out of your data. The outcomes of this will be tailored to individual requirements and specific to each project, and the types of project span across all the key strategic ukactive pillars.

Bespoke surveying and focus groups

We are able to design and host online surveys to gather information to understand how specific groups view particular topics. The qualitative and quantitative information gathered can be analysed to generate insight and develop ideas and strategies relating to the aims of the project. Another option is in depth focus groups, either as a stand alone option or to supplement and build upon insight gathered by surveying.

Impact assessments

This type of work uses data to measure and quantify the impact of a change or alteration your organisation has undergone. For example, customer attendance metrics can be analysed to understand the impact that a gym extension or a new swimming pool has had on your membership and visit figures.

In depth consultation and stakeholder engagement

We can work with your organisation to undertake consultation style work into what future provision of sport and leisure facilities or services might look like for a local area. This can include intensive engagement with local stakeholders, as well as desk based research on current and future demographics and sport and activity provision in the local area.

Business Intelligence Reports on key sector trends and topics

We aim to produce regular reports on the latest trends and behaviours within the industry, and to explore in depth using data the key topics and issues that exist within the sector.

Data and Insight

Through the collection, manipulation and analysis of a variety of data sources, the ukactive Research Institute aims to provide comprehensive market insight and generate regular, up-to-date and actionable Business Intelligence reports. We do this both at sector level, producing insight based on trends and patterns across the whole industry, and also at an organisational level, through working closely with individual members on their data and insight requirements.

Our team of data experts will provide advice and support on what a high-quality data set should look like, and how to extract crucial information from this to drive business performance. We can also design and implement additional quantitative and qualitative data collection processes to supplement existing data sets or gain further insight on particular areas of interest.