TRACE is conducting an ambitious project to create a map and ethnographic guide to writing and research communities in South West England and beyond. We originally developed our mapping technique to support the work of our creative writing incubator, Paper Nations.

TRACE has since adapted this technique – which uses surveys, public-facing campaigns, and presents data using interactive maps and events calendars – to support the research community.

Powerful networks and hubs of research exist all across the South West of England and beyond, in universities, creative spaces and in the everyday community. We want to make them visible.

One barrier which prevents visibility is that many people don’t believe their work ‘counts’ as real research. This is because a lot of research is conducted through creative practice, applied practice, community networks or other channels regarded as ‘less official’ (such as local history or work-based research projects). But all research feeds into the important bedrock of information which allows researchers to flourish and create projects.

An important part of making research communities visible is ensuring that everyone can access this information. You’ll find it all freely available on our interactive map and calendar.

Mapping Writing Communities
Mapping Writing Communities
Mapping Writing Communities

In the course of conducting this research, we have so far developed expertise in:

  1. Surveying the national cultural landscape and gathering information about people’s research and writing activities.
  2. Representing that information in a variety of creative ways – for example, maps, calendars, research documents, and videos.

We are gathering our findings into an evidence base that writers and researchers can use to find information, sources of guidance and support, and which will inform our knowledge about which areas, forms, and topics we need to focus on next.

We will continue to update our interactive map and event calendar as we collect further data.