Action Research

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 1476-7503
Publications
Article
This article deals with the matter of educating action researchers in higher education. It takes as a point of departure what is currently published that considers the teaching of action research as a practice within university settings. This literature is rather meagre, so we seek a better understanding in the theories and models developed in adult education. We believe the adult education frame offers the basis for making sense of the relationship between experiences, reflection, and the written reflections intended to communicate research-based insights to the scientific community. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
This special issue invited people working with self-reflective, first-person action research approaches to submit articles which would explore the range, richness, delights, challenges and dilemmas of these aspects of action research. The intention for this special issue was to review some of the diversity of people's self-reflective, first-person action research approaches, exploring what they mean in practice and how they are informed conceptually. A major conclusion of articles in this issue is that high quality, deeply questioning, first-person action research is greatly supported if it is held within a long-term, second-person inquiry. As guest editors, we needed to consider issues of quality when we sent the submitted articles out for review. We read the articles and surfaced the kinds of questions we were asking about them, and from these generated the reviewers' report form. Some of the ratings are obvious and generic, such as how clear the article is in its framing, choices and storyline. Also, obviously, we were seeking significant contributions to the theory and practice of first-person action research. And we found that a key criterion for us was whether there was sufficient 'showing', speaking from experience, to evocatively accompany and illustrate 'telling', talking about inquiry. Achieving an appropriate combination of these qualities seems an important craft in the communication of action research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Current literature stresses the significance of networks and network theory in both social as well as technical domains. Not only is the role of networked technologies (such as mobile phones and the internet) in everyday life being scrutinized, but network theory is re-shaping an understanding of how social change and community interaction occurs. In this paper, I build on these developments to propose Network Action Research as a methodological variant of the action research family. I propose that Network Action Research is a timely and appropriate research methodology to guide studies that involve people, place and technology and to meet the challenges that stem from the changing nature of community interaction and social formations within a Network Society. I outline how technology can be used to operationalise and support Network Action Research. Examples from two case studies are used to illustrate key aspects of the methodology.
 
Article
The theory of action research (AR) pedagogy presented in this article is, at its core, ethical in nature. For teaching, learning, and evaluating AR, the theory's goal is to increase individuals' capacity to act on their own behalf and preventing themselves from becoming an authoritarian expert. Achieving such an increased individual capacity requires the integration and deployment of multiple dimensions of ethical principles and understanding their implications for the ethics of AR pedagogy. An integration of Ibn Miskawayh's Islamic philosophy of ethical pedagogy, Iris Young's theory of justice, Greenwood and Levin's criteria for ethical participation, and my own model of participatory action research evaluation that is central to the learning process
 
Article
The thesis as a bulky ‘tome’ with a traditional structure - literature review, methodology, research design, findings and conclusions - is a concept under increasing challenge. Recently, I completed a doctoral action research project based on environmental education in a primary school. However, I found that trying to force the action research process into a linear writing structure was an unsatisfactory experience. After much anxiety and considerable experimentation, I resolved the problem of ‘fit’ between action research and the traditional thesis format by creating an alternative architecture based on each of the action research cycles. While still producing a bulky ‘doorstopper’, I feel this structure is a better reflection of the way the study evolved. This paper outlines this new architecture and discusses its rationale. It also challenges other action researchers to innovate and experiment with the ways they represent their research work. License for such innovation is rapidly developing especially with the advent of digital thesis production and performative theses. I see no reason why action researchers cannot be leaders in the creation of new forms of practice about how research theses and dissertations are represented in the academy.
 
Article
Participation has been of ongoing interest in the field of action research and the New Health Promotion movement, but it is not without tensions and problems. This article presents the challenge of containing the conflicting demands of personal empowerment, practical advancement and theory building in a community-based participatory action research project ‘Aspiring to Healthy Living in The Netherlands’. A Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology was chosen because of its contribution to empowerment of the community of older people, which was one of the project goals. Besides that, the project aimed at the development of an intervention program for encouraging healthy living amongst older people in The Netherlands and contributing to the knowledge base on healthy living, by analyzing narratives from the participants. However, when time pressure rose, the empowerment goal started to collide with academic and practical aims, and the dialogue within the project team became obstructed leading to a return to the traditional routine of applied research and the accompanying power relationships, with implications for the learning in and about the project. This article starts with a short review of the literature on community participation in health research and the challenges of learning participatory action research, followed by a description of the PAR project and the process of participation, using the ladder of Pretty as a tool to highlight different levels of participation in different project stages. By using the theory of organizational learning developed by Argyris and Schön (Argyris, 1993; Argyris & Schön, 1978), insights will be provided into the attempts of a relatively inexperienced team to create a participatory and dialogic research project, and the problems in keeping reflection and learning going within a context of external pressure.
 
Article
I discuss a unique action research (AR) pedagogical experience of professors at four public universities (Damascus, Aleppo, Al-Ba'ath, and Tishreen) in the Syrian Arab Republic. The approach in this experience began by contextualizing some lessons and experiences of AR pedagogy at Cornell University and issues about university reform in a very different cultural and academic setting, under the program "Higher Education and Training Program in Contemporary Social Sciences (HETPCSS)." This collaborative program in Syria was a unique opportunity to address new dimensions of action research in a developing country, where a real gap exists in paying attention to many aspects of conducting any serious research in the social sciences and the humanities. The program was intended to partially remedy this gap through introducing AR in Syria. Few are those universities in the US or Europe that have contextualized AR and the relation between university and society in an effective pro-social way. The experience of the Syrian universities is unique in that some of their professors are being educated in AR despite the adverse national political and economic conditions. One may even suggest that we are able to educate these professors in action research because of the contemporary adverse conditions.
 
Article
This article explores the tensions and incongruities between conventional thesis presentation and the principles of action research. Through the experiences of the authors alternative approaches to thesis structure are proposed which are argued to be more congruent with the epistemological, methodological and ethical aspects of action research. Consistent with our arguments, the article is presented as a play. Act I considers the tensions facing research students wishing to write up their action research in the context of conventional thesis writing requirements; Act II consists of four ‘scenes’, each of which illustrates a key learning arising from our own stories: writing in the researcher as central to the research; staying true to the unfolding research story; using metaphor; and finally, weaving literature throughout the thesis. Act III considers the challenges of examination in the face of breaking with tradition. We conclude with a ‘curtain call’ from the narrator that offers a reflexive engagement with the main themes of the article.
 
Article
Our research may not emerge in the tidy, linear manner often described in research papers, and hoped for outcomes may never eventuate. Amid this seeming confusion, researchers may experience personal discomfort and perceptions of failure. Drawing on my experiences as a doctoral candidate I address two of the areas for which my own reading of literature left me ill-prepared. I focus first on the emergent nature of action research, and second on the contributions reflection can make to our development as action researchers. Students and teachers of action research are encouraged to appreciate the richness and variety of experiences which interaction and engagement in the research process may bring, for it is these activities which shape our development as researchers.
 
Article
The narrative learning cycle outlined in this article was developed to address three perceived weaknesses in experiential learning cycles and involved three shifts: a shift from one concrete experience to multiple stories; a shift from individual action to social performance; and a shift from an emphasis on cognitive learning to a development of practice. This article recounts the use of such a narrative learning cycle in the development of new practices in the design and practice of an undergraduate management course. Its concluding comments appraise the potential of a narrative learning cycle to enable a professional practitioner to take heed of voices other than their own, appreciate the unavoidably social nature of action and plan their contribution to jointly negotiated practice.
 
Article
Corrigendum: Editorial Authors: Svante Lifvergren, Tony Huzzard, and Andreas Hellstrom Published in Action Research 2015, Volume 13 Issue 1, pages 3-8, DOI: 10.1177/1476750314568210. Link: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/13/1/3.full.pdf+html In the aforementioned Editorial: On page 5, the first line should be In the first article, Olsson and Lau use participatory action research (PAR) to co-create improved preventive healthcare services. On page 6, second last paragraph, 9th line from the bottom should be Moving away from overly leader-centric approaches to leadership, they report on an AR project that enabled them to explore how leadership practice, as leader-follower interaction, was constituted, enacted and reflected upon to make improvements in Norwegian primary care. As previously noted, it has been a great pleasure to edit the special issue on healthcare published in March. However, and despite our very good intentions, these errors made their way into the final version of our Editorial. We are truly sorry for these mistakes and we are the ones responsible for not having detected the mistakes. Svante Lifvergren, Tony Huzzard, and Andreas Hellstrom Guest Editors of the Special issue on Action Research and Healthcare.
 
The EBCD/AR process. AR; action research; EBCD: experience-based co-design.
Similarities between EBCD steps and the AR cycle.
Four themes. 
Overview of the projects.
Continued
Article
Strong professionals who influence the development of healthcare services have dominated healthcare organizations for many years. However, this dominance has been challenged recently through patient involvement. One method of achieving patient involvement is experience-based co-design (EBCD), in which patients and healthcare professionals work together to improve care. Patient involvement has considerable potential, but also presents certain challenges. This article addresses these challenges using experiences from patients and healthcare professionals who participated in two action research projects that aimed to improve patient experienced quality using EBCD in pediatric care. The paper shows that patient involvement in quality improvements can challenge the traditional roles of professionals and patients by new roles as co-designers. The role as co-designer embraces new perspectives for healthcare professionals that force them to step out of their comfort zone. Accordingly, healthcare professionals are able to view patients as equal partners in improvement work. Reflecting dialogues during the projects offered eye-opening stories for patients and healthcare professionals that enabled them to construct a common picture of care. The contribution of this study is strengthening earlier research that argues that an action research approach can strengthen important values for successful EBCD projects: equal partnerships, new roles, and dialogue. The findings show that the combination of EBCD and action research is a promising approach to address the challenges of patient involvement in healthcare improvement.
 
Article
Substantial attention has been given to action research. A systematic review was implemented in 2001 to provide a complete summary of existing action research studies, but there is no systematic exploration of action research publications for this millennium. The general objective of this study was to systematically retrieve and review empirical studies on action research methodologies from 2000 to 2014. The consecutive and structured process of searching, selecting and examining articles through the Matrix Method was elaborated clearly in this paper. This study has found a wide variety of action research paradigms, data collection, and analysis methods and this paper discussed action research quality from these three aspects. Actor-network theory was introduced to propose the Spectrum of action research paradigms. In addition, a new classification was presented to group all data collection methods into those conducted respectively by researchers, participants, and both. Six kinds of commonly used data analysis approaches were extracted. Limitations and conclusions of the study were articulated in this paper.
 
Article
This study uses Positive Deviance (PD) to understand and prevent child marriage by abduction in a community in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region of Ethiopia. Marriage by abduction entails the kidnapping of girls between the ages of 10 and 14 for forced genital circumcision, rape, and marriage. PD, as a form of participatory action research, is a problem-solving approach that mobilizes a community to uncover existing yet unrecognized solutions to solve the specific problem. In this study, the community discovered that some members practice behaviors and strategies that can prevent child marriage by abduction. The results support PD application to this specific form of child marriage as well as the practice as a whole, offering an alternative to traditional behavior change methodology for social transformation.
 
Article
This paper describes the processes involved in establishing a genuinely collaborative and participatory role for nine Aboriginal Elders in a five-year participatory action research project focused on early child development in the Perth metropolitan area of Western Australia. The project goals are to better inform and align policy and program design with Aboriginal values, world views and concepts of childhood. The Elder’s authority in the design, conduct and outputs of the research are intended to adhere to a decolonising approach, whereby Aboriginal people have power and voice in ways that are aligned to their values and beliefs. Requirements for research that is collaborative, relational, participatory and reflexive are not straightforward or easily achieved, and the process of working with the nine Elders in their roles as Co-researchers has not been without its challenges. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities of working with Aboriginal Elders as Co-researchers and seeks to enhance understanding of the necessity of incorporating an Aboriginal worldview and knowledge framework in this way.
 
Article
This article describes and analyses the participatory action research (PAR) process used by researchers working with policy leaders and clinicians to facilitate health service improvement around postnatal discharge planning processes for remote-dwelling Aboriginal women and their newborn infants. The research presented here was a sub-study of a larger health system improvement investigation. Stringer's (2007) working principles of PAR - participation, relationships, inclusion and communication - were used by researchers as a framework to describe a process of engagement for the research. Application of these principles prompted changes to the discharge planning process within the health system. The improvements included: redesign of discharge paperwork; nomination of a designated health professional at the remote community to receive summaries; training for hospital staff in the computer application that generated the discharge summaries; and the development of a length of stay and discharge policy. Hospital service providers have formed a working group that meets to discuss issues around the discharge process and work continues to review and strengthen the discharge process. Hospital management reported that the changes resulted in improvements, with more likelihood that correct information is being received by the appropriate health professional in a timely manner. © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.
 
Article
Community–academic partnerships are believed to increase the effectiveness and feasibility of action research. While factors facilitating and hindering community–academic partnerships have been identified, their influence on the collaborative process is unknown, especially during community–academic partnership initiation and development. This explanatory sequential mixed methods study (quantitative→QUALITATIVE) evaluated perspectives of members in an autism community–academic partnership to determine frequently endorsed and influential factors facilitating and hindering the collaborative process during the community–academic partnership’s development. Participants (n = 11; community stakeholders, implementation scientist, and researchers) endorsed and ranked the importance of factors present in the formation of the community–academic partnership then completed a semi-structured qualitative interview to elaborate on survey responses. Interviews were coded using a coding, comparison, and consensus method and analyzed using the Rapid Assessment Process for frequency and salience of themes across interviews. Integrating mixed methods yielded ranked factors that were perceived to facilitate and hinder the development of the community–academic partnership, and highlighted the relative influence of interpersonal factors on the facilitation of community–academic partnership processes and organizational factors on the hindrance of community–academic partnership processes during development. Some discrepancies emerged between community and academic partners. Results may assist to improve the development of community–academic partnerships, which is becoming increasingly important in healthcare services research, dissemination, and implementation.
 
Article
This paper concerns the complex relationships between external facilitators and teachers in action research, as they work in a critical friendship to develop interaction in specific ways that open up rather than shut down communication and learning. The aim is to contribute with knowledge about interpersonal communication between academic facilitators and teachers in a development process where the teachers had a lack of influence in the initial phase of the project. The findings reveal that communication in a context of incompatible positions and professional distance did not lead to further communication, whereas communication in a context of confidence, mutual reliance, and challenge opened up possibilities for further dialogue. We identified three aspects affecting communication: absence of ownership of specific problems, trust without relationship, and courage before trust. Implication for the action research community is the importance of making strategies for critical friendship explicit. This assists for teachers to internalize the role.
 
Article
Trusting, productive relationships between traditionally discordant stakeholders—community members and researchers—are critical for successful Community-Based Participatory Research. Practical guidance on processes allowing for partner trust-building and collaborative leadership development in Community-Based Participatory Research literature lacks specificity. In this paper, we introduce our praxis of Transformative Communication Spaces to facilitate purposeful, iterative discourse that occurs in, and fuels each research phase. We elaborate on the use of Transformative Communication Spaces through Pláticas de Salud, Oral History Listening Events, and Data Analysis Think Tanks within the framework of our Little Village Participatory Community Health Assessment. We believe the integrity and potential of Community-Based Participatory Research is contingent on the use of Transformative Communication Spaces strategies to foster trusting partnerships necessary for shared learning and co-leadership.
 
Article
This interview provides insight into the career and mindset of action researcher Bob Dick. Over the years, Bob has worked as a consultant, facilitator, and independent scholar in Australia. We believe that the mindset Bob uses to guide his practice and research has great value for practitioners and academics alike. This interview is one in a series that introduces influential thinkers in the field of AR. It is our hope that this conversation will benefit the theory and practice of current action researchers. © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.
 
Article
This article uses an evocative autoethnographic approach to explore the experience of being an insider-researcher in a community-based participatory research setting. Taking a holistic perspective and using the form of narrative story-telling, I examine the dynamics between the typically marginalizing (but sometimes empowering) experience of being an autistic woman and the typically privileging (but sometimes oppressive) experience of being an engineering professional, during a time of career upheaval. Themes of motivations and mentors, adversity from social services and the academy, belonging, the slipperiness of intersectional positioning, feedback cycles of opportunity, dichotomies of competence and inadequacy, heightened stakes, and power and resistance are explored through the narrative. While primarily leaving the narrative to speak for itself per the qualitative approach taken, the article concludes with a discussion of how the personal experiences described relate both to the broader work of insider-researchers within disability-related fields, and to misconceptions about self-reflection and capacity for story-telling in individuals on the autism spectrum.
 
Article
In Canada, Indigenous peoples bear a greater burden of illness and suffer disproportionate health disparities compared to non-Indigenous people. Difficult access to healthcare services has contributed to this gap. In this article, we present findings from a dissemination grant aimed to engage Indigenous youth in popular theatre to explore inequities in access to health services for Indigenous people in a Western province in Canada. Following an Indigenous and action research approach, we undertook popular theatre as a means to disseminate our research findings. Popular theatre allows audience members to engage with a scene relevant to their own personal situation and to intervene during the performance to create multiple ways of critically understanding and reacting to a difficult situation. Using popular theatre was successful in generating discussion and engaging the community and healthcare professionals to discuss next steps to increasing access to healthcare services. Popular theatre and short dramas provide a venue for mirroring stigmatized care and expose racial biases in the delivery of care. The contributions of the students, their input, and their acting were to increase our awareness even more of the pervasiveness of the stigmatized care that Indigenous people experience.
 
Article
This article presents and discusses Accidental Ethnography (AccE), a methodology for practitioners to examine past experiences and contribute their findings to scholarly discourse. Accidental ethnography is the systematic analysis of prior fieldwork. It utilizes extant data “accidentally” gathered (i.e. the data were not collected as part of a predesigned study) to provide insight into a phenomenon, culture, or way of life. The accidental ethnography method—a nascent method in research literature—was developed to provide a means of in-depth exploration of past practitioner learning experiences beyond personal reflection. This article organizes, advances, and systematizes an accidental ethnography method for practitioner–researchers. We propose here a method that encompasses broader intentionality on the part of the researcher and a potentially unorthodox chronology of steps in the ethnographic research process. For practitioners in education, where much is learned through action and reflection, accidental ethnography offers a methodological approach for rigorous reflective research by front-line practitioners who have traditionally had difficulty finding time to make rigorous contributions to the discipline. This article introduces the methodological approach, elaborates the accidental ethnography research process, situates the method within action research methodology, and provides an example of an accidental ethnography project.
 
Article
This paper offers a critical reflexive perspective on a Participatory Action Research project with young people at a site of ‘advanced urban marginality’ ( Wacquant, 2008 ). Its purpose is to explore the ways in which habitus based inequalities in the research field ( Bourdieu, 1977 ) contributed to a parallel process of marginalisation and exclusion in the act of participating. More specifically, we examine how a particular professional academic research identity and taxonomy of participatory social research, animated by a benign intent, nonetheless exerted an ideological form of control over the enquiry, administering and recycling feelings of failure and marginalisation among participants - including the ‘professional’ researcher. To draw out the different ways this control took form, our analysis centres on a particular exchange within the group concerned with the distribution of a one-off financial stipend to participants. We endeavour to draw some conceptual insights in our exploration of this exchange, and in conclusion offer some ideas for a ‘good enough’ practice of action research undertaken in comparable socio-economic and psycho-cultural conditions.
 
Article
This article addresses the importance of action research to provide approaches to emphasizing and acknowledging artful aspects of professional practice in public sector organizations. The article introduces the philosophical works of Knud Ejler Løgstrup and Kari Martinsen as perspectives on artful aspects of professional practices and knowing. In order to concentrate on artful aspects of the research process, empirical material from two arts-involving workshops with teachers are presented as the concrete methodological expression of the participatory ideas of action research. The article addresses embodied dimensions of practice, the role of sensory awareness in professional knowing in organizations, which are some of the main preconditions for contributing to creative, social change, and scholarly weight. Thus, the article contributes with ways to regard action research as artful, participatory processes and practices that enable creation of organizational and public knowledge on the artful aspects of professional practice.
 
Article
Much of what goes on in organisational life happens at the edge of language, in the form of vague stirrings, fleeting feelings or small gestures. In the midst of relating to others, we may sense a potential new opening or an ill-defined disquiet. Usually, it is only later that we can make reference to a some-thing that has since emerged. I offer two reflective narratives of moments of action occurring with colleagues and students. I propose that as organisational and action research practitioners we need to learn a particular kind of artistry, one that pays attention to minor shifts and variations as they are occurring, often at the periphery of our awareness. I draw on Manning’s work on ‘minor gestures’ and Shotter’s notions of ‘joint action’ and ‘withness thinking’. I turn to novelist Clarice Lispector to explore how we might approach crafting after-the-fact, reflexive accounts that remain in touch with the precarious potentiality of where things might go next.
 
Article
The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research consists of 314 entries totaling around 600,000 words by people expert in their topic. What if it was treated as a corpus of data about the current state of action research and related matters? So treated, it can provide a valuable current perspective on what action research is, who uses it for what purpose, and how it is done. A companion paper by Bob Dick reports on what the encyclopedia has to say about current action research methodology. This paper does the same for theories/concepts used in action research. I review and comment on what the encyclopedia says about the broad array of theoretical perspectives and concepts that are often deployed in varying combinations in action research. I emphasize some of the key features of many approaches to action research and make it clear that action researchers borrow eclectically from other fields in orchestrating action research processes.
 
Reclaiming Futures anti-oppressive practice curriculum pilot -basic curriculum overview.
Continued.
Continued.
An overview of the projects that were developed by the various sites engaged in the pilot training.
Article
The anti-oppressive practice (AOP) framework focuses on structural inequity and power relations, employing liberatory methods toward social justice goals. This article reports on a national training initiative in AOP and an associated participatory action research project to determine the transformative impact of the training on staff, services and the system itself. The setting of this study is among service providers in youth justice and treatment services, where racial disparities are pronounced. The project involved both skills development and application of AOP in ways that would promote systems reform. Participants found the experience to be valuable, relevant and energizing, and skill sets in AOP were developed. The course requirement to develop site-based projects in participants’ local settings created changes in the ways services were delivered. Participants valued the creation of ‘safe spaces’ to discuss their experiences of racism and oppression in the various youth service systems. Transformative learning theory is utilized as a backdrop to the experience of interpreting participant reactions and learning experiences. Results suggest that AOP is a useful framework for organizing renewed efforts to reduce disparities in justice and other service delivery systems. Participant projects, an overview of implications for the field, and suggested future research are discussed.
 
Article
In the face of today’s urgent societal challenges, there are constant calls for regional governments to respond to them. Yet, policies, including those developed through action research, appear to be transforming too slowly. This paper focuses on love as a methodological dimension of action research that can energize these responses. One of the main features of love is that it requires mastering the interplay between reason and emotion, and I use art-based action research as a vehicle to explore this interplay. More specifically, my data in this paper are the poems I wrote when I participated in an experiment led by an artist on social media. The discussion of the case focuses on how we can use the lessons learnt in the experiment to integrate love in action research for territorial development.
 
Article
The impact of Ernie Stringer's life and work over the last five decades is far-reaching and shows a sustained commitment to community development and educational change. This interview, the third in a series about action research and its most influential thinkers, provides insight into Ernie's diverse and devoted career with action research. Because Ernie is a leading scholar and practitioner in the field, his wisdom and experience strengthen the ability of other action researchers and citizens to create big differences from small actions.
 
Article
The Kwithu project started when a volunteer who joined Kwithu, a community-based organization in Mzuzu, Malawi (Africa), to teach English gave a diagnostic test to a random group of forty 7th and 8th graders (20 boys and 20 girls) and discovered that most of them could hardly read or write in English. The test results prompted Maureen, the Kwithu director and co-founder, the teacher and myself to meet with the headteachers of the three schools mostly attended by Kwithu children. The headteachers appreciated our concerns about the English proficiency of the children, but they advised us to focus on more urgent matters if we truly wanted to help, e.g., lack of teaching and learning materials, lack of running water in schools, hunger, teacher qualifications, etc. This advice shifted our initial inquiry goal—from English language teaching—to a community-based participatory action research project designed to address the school conditions in Luwinga. In this paper, I describe the community-based participatory action research inquiry and I reflect on the process of participation.
 
Article
It is well known that China’s population is aging, more rapidly than almost any country in recent history. In 2018, 1.67 billion or 11.9% of the population was aged 65 or older (China Daily, 2019). The effect of an aging population trend is not usually represented positively—“elderly as a burden”—whether in China or elsewhere. However, our action research project of post-disaster community rebuilding in Ya’an in Sichuan Province, China challenges this mainstream discourse of elderly people. In the process, we discovered the power of the elderly who did not passively accept external assistance following the earthquake, but actively participated in rebuilding their community. They were valuable human/cultural assets and able to make a great contribution to community development. This article provides an account of interdisciplinary action research in which social workers collaborated with elderly villagers to promote sustainable community development by integrating people’s social, cultural, and economic skills into long-term reconstruction following a major disaster. Most importantly, it emphasizes the contribution of older people and challenges the dominant discourse relating to older people.
 
Article
This paper outlines an action research methodology used to create a practice-informed resource for social care in Australia. Practitioners and researchers worked together to develop, test and refine a process to engage people with cognitive disability and complex support needs in person-centred planning. The planning approach, which calls for planners to reflect on their own skills and attitudes as well as the unique needs of an individual, has helped to improve practice in a number of fields and locations in Australia. The process marks a substantive practice shift towards recognition of planning as fundamentally relational in nature. This paper reflects on the process of action research which we describe as similarly relational and potentially transformative of the relations between researchers and practitioners. Working within a knowledge translation paradigm we show how reflexivity within the researcher/practitioner relationship in action research calls for a substantive shift in perspective by researchers to effectively work within the complex contexts of practitioners themselves. In taking this opportunity in our research practice, we identify the potential for a fundamentally different praxis to emerge, one more deeply grounded in the conceptual, political and practical relations between researchers, practitioners and those whose lives they seek to enhance.
 
Article
Farmworkers living in US-Border communities experience numerous stressors in their daily lives that place them at risk for behavioral health problems, particularly anxiety and depression. Given challenges to accessing care, farmworkers are most likely to receive services in the primary care setting. In this paper, we describe a participatory action research (PAR) approach in which community health workers (CHWs) use focus groups to engage the patient population in discussing behavioral health issues and identifying preferences for care within a Federally Qualified Health Center. The CHWs were trusted members of the community who participated in the articulation of research questions, development and implementation of protocols, participant recruitment, and data collection. CHWs encouraged focus group members to represent their community in the co-construction of knowledge regarding perceptions of behavioral health and priorities for care. This research illustrates that CHWs, as representatives for patients' needs and a bridge between the health care system and communities, can play a vital role as intermediate actors in generating patient participation in PAR.
 
Article
This article is based on a dialog with Professor Marja-Liisa Swantz, a distinguished participatory action research expert whose work has contributed immensely in the fields of development studies, women's studies, health, and technology internationally. Drawing from her experiences, the conversation provides an insight into how one can grow from a novice researcher to a very distinguished intellectual by staying focused and with a clear grasp of one's aspirations. We also learn from this dialog how participatory action research emerged as the most significant research style that argues in favor of involving participants as research partners in the knowledge production process.
 
Article
Do-it-yourself biology, or garage biology, is a set of practices through which lay people can practice biotechnology and thus also challenge the exclusive control exercised on biotech R&D by Big Bio. This article describes how garage biologists aim to radically transform biotechnological socio-material products and indicate a way of engaging with science and technology that is praxis oriented and builds on sharing, participation, and creativity. We argue that these do-it-yourself biology practices contain significant epistemological similarities with the well-established tradition of action research and indicate that both practices share the political objective to empower individuals to actively build their own future but that they prioritize different strategies. Action research investigates opportunities for empowerment in typical social domains while do-it-yourself biology focuses on the material dimension of socio-technical realities. By reviewing some do-it-yourself biology practices from the core basic principles of action research, the article aims to develop insight whether and in which forms a connectivity can be realized between these different practices leading to future collective actions among these practices.
 
Research process.  
The novel patient education program.  
Overview of creative methods used in workshops.
Article
Action research is potentially a useful method for changing clinical practice by involving practitioners in the process of change. The aim of this study was to explore the utility of action research in bridging the gap between research and practice. Diabetes educators in collaboration with researchers developed and implemented a participatory, group-based diabetes education program in a diabetes clinic in the Danish health care system. The research process included a variety of qualitative methods: workshops, classroom observations, video recordings and semi-structured interviews. These methods aimed at obtaining contextual sensitivity, allowing dynamic interactions with educators and people with diabetes. Despite challenges, the study demonstrates how action research methods contribute to development and change of diabetes education practice while simultaneously adding knowledge to the action research community.
 
Article
In this paper, I address two questions: do their dissimilarities prevent action research and actor-network theory from being used together? If not, how can they complement each other? To do so, I discuss literature from each approach, the only two studies I found that combine action research and actor-network theory (both from organization management) and anecdotes from my field-work experience on the participatory management of urban spaces. On one hand, combining action research and actor-network theory helped me deal with the unpredictability of collaborative research projects by (1) helping me adapt to circumstances while remaining aware of my agency and (2) report systematically on diverse interactions while also letting a shared vocabulary and narrative emerge. On the other, my adherence to the principles of each approach and the comparability of my experience were affected by a lack of both time and control over the processes in which I was involved. I hope to support a debate that crosses disciplinary and methodological boundaries about the realities of doing collaborative inquiry, not by seeking normative statements about research practice, but by emphasizing how the latter cannot exist without a complex network of relations that inevitably affect its validity.
 
Article
Action research was chosen to investigate the interface between economic and environmental factors in the aviation sector. A variant of the methodology was developed which combined the ethos of action research with the prescriptive mechanism of case study analysis. This was found to be particularly appropriate for the situation encountered, where the parameters of the central problem are clearly defined and an outline solution can be identified but how to persuade stakeholders of a way forward is uncertain. The research had three phases beginning with the preparatory phase which examined the situation in depth to be able to propose a feasible solution. The second phase involved seeking ideas from another sector with similar characteristics. The third phase consisted of engagement with stakeholders across six stakeholder groups. It is suggested that the ‘action research case study’ is particularly suited to the challenge of sustainability and may have wider utility.
 
Article
This article investigates participatory action research workshops from the perspective of feminist new materialism by asking, how we came to know ageing in the smart city of Oulu in northern Finland through collaborative workshops which aimed to include seniors into public service design. The most meaningful socio-material components in this knowledge-making are argued to be the shifts in social power relations, particular spatial and material practices, and the participant assemblage. These components intra-act transferring our understanding on ageing: ageing becomes a creative state where the seniors are included in the problem-solving instead of being citizens to be looked after, and thus being merely a socio-economic problem. The power dynamics are essential in participatory action research, therefore, the accountability of all agents should be carefully analysed to understand the impacts of epistemology both in design and social change.
 
Article
Many rural poor and marginalized people strive to make a living in social-ecological systems that are characterized by multiple and often inequitable interactions across agents, scale and space. Uncertainty and inequality in such systems require research and development interventions to be adaptive, support learning and to engage with underlying drivers of poverty. Such complexity-aware approaches to planning, monitoring and evaluating development interventions are gaining strength, yet, there is still little empirical evidence of what it takes to implement them in practice. In this paper, we share learning from an agricultural research program that used participatory action research and theory of change to foster learning and support transformative change in aquatic agricultural systems. We reflect on our use of critical reflection within participatory agricultural research interventions, and our use of theory of change to collectively surface and revisit assumptions about how change happens. We share learning on the importance of being strengths-based in engaging stakeholders across scales and building a common goal as a starting point, and then staging a more critical practice as capacity is built and opportunities for digging deeper emerge.
 
Article
Stepping back from four years of work on the SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research, its editors here take an opportunity to reflect on what they've learned through the process about the current state of action research and to consider how this might inform what comes next for the broader action research community. This is the first in a series of three planned articles-this first focusing primarily on how we define and mobilize the community of action research. Subsequent articles will feature Davydd Greenwood's reflections on the theoretical frameworks of action research and how they inform our understanding of change processes and Bob Dick's thoughts on current and coming methodological issues and innovations of action research.
 
Article
This article reflects on a participatory action research process in partnership with segregated Roma communities in Hungary. It will focus on the “non-positivist good theory”-building capacity of participatory action research in situations where social distance between participants is high and where action-oriented cooperation involves numerous actors, continuously extends to new stakeholders and areas, and aims to contribute to long-term and general social goals. Special attention will be paid to the effects of three phenomena: extreme poverty, extreme egalitarianism, and community hierarchy. We show that as cooperation shifts from discussions to actions and theories-in-use start dominating the process, PAR might become a complex and fuzzy process, characterized by numerous pragmatic and ethical challenges and contradictions. Thus, in a setting described above, it is a rather challenging task for PAR to create a “non-positivist good theory”: one which enables and empowers community members to make pragmatic and sustainable changes in their lives.
 
Article
This paper highlights the possibilities for transformation that exist when a diverse group of participants interested in working together to change the culture of dementia care in long-term care and community care settings use appreciative participatory action research to guide their culture change efforts. These transformations happened throughout the culture change process using appreciative participatory action research. For instance, using appreciative participatory action research to guide the culture change process provided participants with the opportunity to build stronger professional and personal relationships in their respective care communities. Culture change transformations also stemmed from the appreciative participatory action research process, as participants recognized the importance of finding ways to include persons with dementia/residents in the process and they developed an appreciation for the valuable contributions persons with dementia/residents can make to culture change work. These culture chance possibilities demonstrate the value in using appreciative participatory action research to guide culture change in long-term care and community care contexts. These possibilities also illustrate the importance of paying closer attention to the culture change process itself, rather than solely the outcomes of the process, given that the possibilities for transformation that can take place throughout the process can help to build momentum, propelling culture change efforts forward in healthcare contexts.
 
Article
In this brief article, we review the history of the human subjects review process and identify key aspects of that review as they relate to action research. In particular, we examine the issues of coercion, predictability, confidentiality, and risk –concerns central to the criteria used in current review processes but reflecting fundamental differences in the basic conceptualization of ethical practice as this is understood in action research.
 
Article
In this paper, we explore how youth participatory action research methods serve as a means of uncovering and addressing hidden curricula in schools. To illuminate, we present an example of one school-based youth participatory action research project in which high school students examined racism and sexism in their school. We discuss both the successes and challenges of youth participatory action research as a methodological approach to address inequity in schools.
 
Top-cited authors
Bob Dick
Victor J Friedman
  • Max Stern Yezreel Valley College
Peter Reason
  • University of Bath
Suzanne Lisa Grant
  • The University of Waikato
Sarah Maiter
  • York University