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Action research FAQ
(Frequently asked questions file)


This is a resource file which supports the regular public program "areol" (action research and evaluation on line) offered twice a year beginning in mid-February and mid-July.  For details email Bob Dick  or

...  in which brief answers are provided to some commonly asked questions about action research


The initial draft was compiled by Bob Dick, with much help from Pam Swepson <>.  Useful comments were also provided by Felix Diaz <>.  Further comments are invited.

There is an associated mailing list, arlist-l.  You may subscribe to it by sending the command

      subscribe ARLIST-L Your Name
(e.g. subscribe ARLIST-L Olive Oyl)

Corrections and additions to this file are sought.  Send your comments and suggestions to
Bob Dick.

There's also a Polish translation, courtesy of Andrey Fomin.




The following questions are addressed in this FAQ file

Some of the answers given below are personal views -- not everyone would subscribe to them without reservation.

What is  action research?

Action research is a research paradigm which allows you to develop knowledge or understanding as part of practice.  It allows research to be done in situations where other research methods may be difficult to use.  For instance, you may find it useful if...

  • you must remain flexible
  • or you wish to involve the people in the system being researched
  • or you wish to bring about change at the same time
  • or the situation is too ambiguous to frame a precise research question.

or any combination of the preceding conditions.

In short, action research is a useful way of doing research if you are a practitioner who wishes to improve your understanding of your practice.  Its other common use is by activists who wish to engage the clients as co-researchers.  It can also be used for preliminary or pilot research before using some other research approach.  This is less common, but potentially very useful.

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Maintained by Bob Dick; this version 1.10w last revised 20130610