A beginner’s guide to Action Research

Action research consists of a family of research methodologies which pursue action and research outcomes at the same time. It therefore has some components which resemble consultancy or change agency, and some which resemble field research. (1)

Action research tends to be…
· cyclic — similar steps tend to recur, in a similar sequence;
· participative — the clients and informants are involved as partners, or at least active participants,
in the research process;
· qualitative — it deals more often with language than with numbers; and · reflective — critical reflection upon the process and outcomes are important parts of each cycle. (1)

Action research is responsive, emergent and it has a critical reflection.

They can develop enough understanding to become co-researchers in many situations. (1)

plan –> act –> observe –> reflect (and then –> plan etc.) (1)

So, the extent of participation may vary. In some instances there may be a genuine partnership between researcher and others. The distinction between researcher and others may disappear. (2)

I would sum up my recommendations for good action research in this way:
· Use multiple cycles, with planning before action and critical analysis after it.
· Within each cycle —
o use multiple data sources;
o and try to disprove the interpretations arising from earlier cycles.

Action research is a family of research processes whose flexibility allows learning and responsiveness. Vague beginnings can move towards better understanding and practical improvement through the critical analysis of the information, the interpretation of it, and the methods used. (3)


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