Indicators at the crossroads: Ideas, methods and applications

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This paper provides an overview of the development of indicators, with an emphasis on the British urban and regional planning contexts. It then proposes some pointers to set the agenda for future research and development to move forward the development of indicators. The arguments and suggestions are illustrated with findings from a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on identifying indicators to measure local economic development potential, and the approach used to develop a town and city indicators database for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to monitor the performance of the Urban White Paper. The discussion focuses on five broad sets of issues, namely the linkage between theories, concepts and measurement in the development of indicators for urban and regional planning; the importance of policy contexts and values in indicator research; the role of social scientists in the process of indicator development; the use of indicators to inform policy decisions and the data infrastructure; and finally the strengths and weaknesses of different analytical methods to provide research synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-280
Number of pages27
JournalTown Planning Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


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