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Action research and participation

Vikki Uhlmann


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 Vikki Uhlmann sets out some reasons why, for her, participation in action research is essential



Why should action research have participation as a basic element?

The difference between action research and other forms of research.  It is said that one of the basic differences between action research and other forms of research is the requirement for real change to occur as a consequence of the action research which is being undertaken.

My argument is that for real change to occur, participation by the people actually in the situation under research or affected by the outcomes (stakeholders) also has to occur.

What do I mean by real change?

By real change I mean workable, equitable and sustainable outcomes i.e.  that the change works, it is fair and it will last.

For success in these 3 elements, I argue that participation by the stakeholders is essential because:

  • they are familiar with the situation under research so they are able to identify the initial presenting issues very clearly
  • they know the history and can tell you what has been tried, and what might be culturally acceptable
  • they are able to act themselves and to intimately evaluate solutions as to their suitability for their particular environment
  • they will be there after my involvement in the research is complete and will be able to progress the actions because they will have learnt about the issues along the way
  • they will have developed relationships along the way which will assist in progressing the actions
  • finally, I believe in the old saying that "two heads are better than one".  And it has been my repeated experience that stakeholders can often come up with a better solution together than any one of us would have separately

This is a working paper.  Let me know what you think !


Vikki Uhlmann
helping people work together
419 Newbeith Rd Greenbank Qld 4124
Ph: (07) 200 0754 Fax: (07) 200 0733 Mobile 015 172 369




Copyright (c) Vikki Uhlmann 1995.

This document can be cited as follows:

Uhlmann, V.  (1995) Action research and participation [On line].  Available at




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Maintained by
Bob Dick; this version 1.04w last revised 20000103

A text version is available at URL