Action Research

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 1476-7503
Publications
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cultural diversity in professional fields, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), leads to greater innovation due to the improved range of ideas, perspectives, and talents that a diverse workforce encompasses. However, despite increased efforts to recruit and retain traditionally underrepresented minority students through collegiate-level STEM equity initiatives, the lack of action research-based program evaluation leaves unanswered questions about the effectiveness of many STEM equity programs. The current article uses an example of a grant-funded collaboration between two Hispanic-serving institutions to explore how action research can enhance the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs to address STEM inequity. A narrative of researcher-participants’ reflections illustrates the successes and shortcomings of the project and suggests four guidelines for enhancing STEM equity programs with action research.
 
Article
Crises in food safety have attracted increased public attention in many countries, typically posing serious threats to public health and causing potential economic, social, and environmental damage. This research applied a green social work framework and developed a family-based and child-centered education model in a Chinese urban context. The green educational model engaged practitioners in a participatory and cooperative learning process to explore practical solutions for food safety that had social and environmental value. Applying action research, this program engaged participant families in extended ways of knowing in educational activities, through which to enhance their emotional connection with the natural environment, and develop critical knowing and reflective action. The program generated useful insights for green social work intervention and public education to improve environmental justice and providing lessons about action research as a method of engagement for social workers.
 
Article
This paper promotes the value of including many stakeholders in service development. The experience of co-creative service development is examined through the lens of action research. Engaging multiple stakeholders in face-to-face, in simultaneous joint activities, from various organisations, with different levels of hierarchy, and dissimilar positions, may increase the diversification through the broadness of the information, knowledge, and experiences, and increase the amount, and quality of the development suggestions. This paper is an attempt to tell the story of action research, and how it was applied to increase the understanding of the usefulness of multiple stakeholders in service development. Outcomes of a research project are presented. The paper ends with discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of the conducted research.
 
Article
Drawing from Paolo Freire and bell hooks, we reconceptualize the arts-based method (ABR) of body-mapping as a form of Action Research for Transformation (ART) in the higher education classroom. As such, we connect emancipatory education and culturally responsive teaching to propose an emancipatory pedagogy of body-mapping—a form of ART facilitating the inclusion of students’ culturally situated knowledge and experience within multicultural contexts.
 
Article
Participatory action research is often informed by strength-based approaches such as appreciative inquiry. However, when social change and collective action appear to be difficult, feelings of powerlessness and suffering can arise. There is an ongoing debate on the place and importance of these so-called negative emotions within strength-based approaches. In a participatory action research project on citizen participation in the Netherlands we encountered a social and political context that was beyond our ability to change. We came to realize that change or action is not always possible in participatory action research and that ‘pushing’ for action can become a disempowering experience for those involved. In this article we share the moral dilemmas that we encountered and reflect on our own learning experiences as academic researchers. We argue that researchers need to anticipate upon these moral challenges by reflecting upon their personal position towards powerlessness and suffering. Nussbaum’s notion of compassion can help researchers to create space for these experiences and to acknowledge these experiences as sources of generative knowledge. Researchers should carefully navigate between fostering action and expressing compassion in participatory action research. With this article we aim to contribute to a care ethical perspective on participatory action research that acknowledges vulnerabilities and precariousness in research practices.
 
Article
How can sociopolitical theories inform participatory action research and what are the implications for development? I answer this question by reflecting on a research, training, and networking project that I conducted with small-scale rooibos tea farmers in postapartheid South Africa. My research team was comprised of community-based farmer leaders who sought representation in an industry marked by acute inequalities. Guided by Freire’s theory of conscientization, we employed a multi-paradigmatic framework to address questions pertaining to governance and identity. Theoretical training enabled my team to systematically interrogate differential power dynamics, illuminating the sociopolitical terrain. In return my co-investigators taught me to embrace a more situated understanding of power, helping us to shift the relations of research and practice. Yet we were unable to scale up outcomes due to material barriers, suggesting that knowledge alone is not power. Our experience illustrates the limitations of conscientization as a model for participatory development as well as its potential for delivering a multi-paradigmatic theory of social transformation.
 
Article
In order to truly examine critical cultural and social issues pertaining to young people, researchers must find ways to overcome the ways in which young people naturally filter their responses when speaking with adults, as these filters may limit what researchers are able to discover through interviews and focus groups. Working through theatre offers the opportunity for researcher and participant to co-construct knowledge. Drama workshops and the creation of a theatrical performance creates a community in which ideas and questions can be deeply examined and self-filtering and censorship mitigated; participant voice is centered and privileged. For seven weeks, I worked with thirteen high school girls to explore issues of identity through a devised theatre performance. My intent was to examine the ways arts-based research might provide more insight than traditional qualitative methods. This article discusses how working through theatre provided a space in which the girls I worked with felt more comfortable expressing their uncensored thoughts and opinions and offers a deeper insight into the ways working through the arts provides a model for participatory research that yields deep and nuanced understandings.
 
Article
The paper proposes connectivity as an interactive approach to communicating research results from action research processes. It argues that action researchers tend to communicate their research results to the action research community in linear ways, which is inconsistent with the principles of action research. In so doing, action researchers miss out on an opportunity to engage in learning processes with other action researchers. Such learning processes may lead to the creation of new workable knowledge and to stronger communities of practice. The paper builds on action research (which focuses on interaction during the research process) and on participatory communication (which focuses on interaction during the communication process) to explore connectivity in practice and to contribute to its theoretical development. It presents an action research process developed in a research institute in Spain’s Basque region as a case study to elaborate that while connectivity may not be a feasible option in all cases, it does invite action researchers to rethink their expectations when writing to communicate new knowledge generated by their action research processes.
 
Article
This study discusses Karen refugees and their education experiences in the United States via a participatory action research. A White male American English tutor and three adolescent Karen brothers took a road trip and visited with the Karen diaspora communities throughout the United States. Researchers in collaboration designed the study, collected qualitative data (interviews, participant observations, artifacts), and analyzed the data and identified five challenges facing Karen youth in- and out-of school: English language divide, parental involvement in their children’s schooling, bullying, gangs, and gender. We discuss how involvement in such a participatory action research can promote new awareness and agency for minority youth. Furthermore, we suggest ways for teachers, school administrators, and community members to help refugee youth better adapt to their communities and schools.
 
Article
What is the purpose of knowledge? Is it an end product only, or a means for action for change? Who is expected to take action - the researcher, research subjects, both, or some unknown others who may come across the knowledge produced? The larger question then is: is it health research, or research for health, equity and development? This article raises these concerns in context of a study conducted in Pakistan entitled Women's Empowerment in Muslim Contexts (WEMC). This article argues that participatory action research (PAR) provides a bridge to the separation of knowledge and action. It proposes, especially, in resource poor countries, combining health research with Paolo Freire's view of participation and change; and sees action by research participants as an outcome of the development of their critical consciousness.
 
Article
The literature suggests that community-based participatory research holds the potential to democratize and decolonize knowledge production by engaging communities and citizens in the research enterprise. Yet this approach, and its associated claims, remain under theorized, particularly as to how power circulates between and among academic and community knowledge work/ers. This paper puts forth a postcolonial analysis of participatory techniques that sustain academe’s epistemic privilege through producing, subordinating and assimilating difference; claiming authenticity and voice; and dislocating collaborative knowledge work from the historical, political, social and embodied conditions in which it unfolds. Postcolonial readings of community-based participatory action research offer a powerful theoretical framework for interrogating the divide between the discursive claims and material practices that undermine this democratic project. Drawing on critical reflections on two community-based participatory action research projects, this paper offers modest proposals toward (re)placing community-based knowledge work/ers in space, time and bodies. Although this paper presents a critique of community-based participatory action research, it is not in pursuit of revealing “bad” participatory praxis or recuperating a better practice, but rather seeks to open up dialogue on the circulation of power in the campus/community encounter.
 
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.
 
Examples of AR projects: Brief synopsis via the four factors.
Continued.
Article
In the context of business and management action research operates in the realm of strategies, practical tasks and structured hierarchical organizational systems in diverse industries and across multiple business functions and disciplines. This article reflects on action research in in generating actionable knowledge in this particular domain and shares the authors’ perspective on future developments. The reflection explores a small number of action research studies undertaken across multiple fields and disciplines in business and management and advances distinct common denominators that can guide further research and action and aid future reflection. Through the mode of interiority, readers are invited to engage in a similar reflection on their assumptions, questions and insights in coming to judgement about the state of the field and its future.
 
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.
 
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.
 
Adobe house in Paredones destroyed by the 2010 earthquake.  
Women singing.
Personal landscape work.  
Community collage.  
Article
This article reflects on a methodological research proposal developed from the perspective of interdisciplinary action research in the context of fear-coping interventions for older people in seven rural areas of southern Chile, following the earthquake and tsunami of February 2010. First, we used interventions based on music and art therapy to gather information on their emotional condition. We not only identified high levels of psychological stress, but also that their strengths were related to the Chilean culture and folk traditions. The creative strategies used proved to be therapeutic and healing, since participants reported they were able to express their fears, giving new meaning to their experiences in a collective context. The results highlight the importance of engaging with community members in the production of knowledge, and in defining collectively the cultural pertinence of interventions. It concludes with a discussion about the possibility of replicating this proposal in post-disaster intervention contexts.
 
Article
This paper explains how the authors applied Action Research during Operation Enduring Freedom in the course of U.S. Department of Defense operations intended to improve local governance in Afghanistan. Serving as civilian field researchers in 2011–2012, we were tasked, in part, with observing how informal custom and authority interacted with the functioning of local government. Assisted greatly by Action Research’s participatory nature, we were able to systematically develop a crucial relationship with an influential government official in a rural area. The partnership that resulted ultimately led to the implementation of planning procedures that were well suited to meet the needs of the district and more transparent to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and entities working with the U.S. Department of Defense. We argue that adopting and training for Action Research would increase the probability of success for current and future “non-lethal” U.S. Department of Defense activities.
 
Article
This article describes experiences formed in connection with a case study in Sámi schools. The Sámi people live in the northern part of the North Calotte region and among the world’s Indigenous peoples. The development of culture-based education aims to diminish the dominance of the national curricula. The aim of this article is to understand factors that influence teachers’ views and how teachers experience culture-based education in terms of a decolonizing process. The case study was conducted in a Critical Utopian Action Research framework with future workshops. The future workshops began as collaborative self-criticism and dreaming of education and then moved to the implementation of Indigenous culture-based teaching activities in local teaching practices. The teachers expressed that they felt trapped between demands made by the national curricula and their desire to implement culture-based teaching, but they nevertheless had many ideas for themes via which culture could be linked to teaching. Through knowledge exchange between the participants in the case study, the teachers ‘rediscovered’ knowledge and reinterpreted that knowledge in a teaching setting. The teachers’ autonomy was strengthened and the teachers’ active efforts empowered them.
 
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
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
The aim of this article was to report and critically reflect on community asset mapping processes used to develop a contextually valid interpersonal violence prevention programme in South Africa to promote positive forms of masculinity, safety and peace. This study was informed by a critical public health framework, and was guided by the values and principles of community-based participatory action research. The research and action methods used included community asset mapping and action planning workshops, workshop evaluation questionnaires and reflexive researcher diary notes. Data were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The results of this study demonstrated that the community asset mapping process provides reflexive and embedded spaces for academic and community participants to interactively engage and critically discuss issues which resonate with community concerns, and collectively find possible solutions to challenges identified. A participatory and asset-based approach holds promise for developing interventions that are appropriate and relevant to local challenges.
 
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