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Papers on action research and related topics

These are papers associated with "areol" -- action research and evaluation on line -- an on-line course available on the web or by email

Action research: action and research (20k)

How to achieve action outcomes and research outcomes, and integrate them

Action learning and action research (10k)

A comparison of action learning and action research

Action learning bibliography (18k)

A bibliography on action learning compiled by Shankar Sankaran

Action research frequently asked questions file (23k)

A partial FAQ file on action research compiled by Bob Dick and Pam Swepson

Argyris and Schon's theories on congruence and learning (33k)

An overview of some of the core ideas of Argyris and Schon's "theory of action" approach to explaining behaviour

This is an extract from Liane Anderson's thesis, available in full here (scanned PDF, 1.3 MB).

Argyris and Schon: some elements of their models (116k)

Some of the key elements of the models of Argyris and Schon are described and explained

Writing action research theses

Two papers on writing action research theses

You want to do an action research thesis?  (248k)

A structured approach for presenting theses (140k, by Chad Perry)

An action research bibliography (56k)

A partly-annotated bibliography of action research literature (1993)

Recent books on action research and related topics (100k)

A briefly-annotated list of books on action research and closely related topics published since 1998

Beliefs without reason (28k)

When our beliefs are held as "beliefs without reason" then they may not respond well to either argument or evidence;  other approaches may be needed

Case study 1: evaluation (19k)

A description of an action-research-based evaluation study with an emphasis on the use of triangulation to achieve rigour

Case study 2: public consultation (15k)

A description of a second action research based study, using a participative approach to consultation with a large and varied group of people

Managing change (14k)

The overall change process is described as having three phases.  Pre-planning requires negotiating roles and building relationships.  Planning involves setting goals, analysing the situation, deciding what to do, and deciding how to monitor it.  Action has two parts, implementation and monitoring

Choosing action research (10k)

A number of different research paradigms are briefly described, together with a discussion of some of the conditions which may favour the choice of action research

Communication skills (42k)

Three sets of important communication skills are described: expressive skills for stating a point of view non-defensively; listening skills for learning another's point of view; and process skills for managing the overall interaction

Community consultation checklist (35k)

Some of the dimensions of community consultation processes are identified, and some of the issues determining design choices are briefly discussed

Cycles within cycles (20k)

The cyclic or spiral process of action research is the source of some of its advantages.  These advantages are enhanced if the researcher remembers that there are cycles within cycles within cycles ...  This paper provides a practical illustration

Darts (12k)

A hypothetical game of darts is used to illustrate some points about the quality of feedback in much of our working life (and elsewhere)

Data-driven action research (16k)

In action research, it is possible to capitalise on the cyclic process by letting the data drive both the improvement of the process and the growing understanding of the research situation

Deep action research: a mystic and a sceptic discuss the issues (20k)

A discussion between Paul Wildman (who originated the discussion) and Bob Dick about the nature and the shortcomings of action research

Delphi face to face (20k)

A face to face version of the delphi process is described (delphi is a process which uses an expert panel to make complex decisions, and can be used for action research)

Dialectical processes (16k)

Dialectical processes (which craft agreement out of disagreement) are described, and contrasted with adversarial and consensual processes

Guiding a consultative process (33k)

Brief descriptions are given of a number of processes for giving, getting and exchanging information especially in community settings as part of public consultation activities

Discussing the undiscussable workbook (32k)

A description of a process a small group might use to enhance the group climate and especially the openness

Event track (32k)

A group planning process which can be used to develop a detailed action plan, including a plan for monitoring the success of the plan

Structured focus groups (18k)

A version of focus group (a form of group interview) in which certain structures are used to improve the quality of information and interpretation gained from the group

Group feedback analysis (19k)

Group feedback analysis is an alternative to survey feedback (surveys used to start change programs).  The survey is done with small teams or groups, who also choose some of the questions to be answered, and help to interpret the information collected

Grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch (72k)

Grounded theory, like action research, is an emergent methodology.  This paper briefly describes its process and some of its most important features

A beginners guide to action research (18k)

An overview of action research is provided, and some of its features discussed

Gaining involvement and participation (34k)

Some issues which are important at the beginning of a change program are addressed; attention is given to ways of involving people in organisational change programs

Convergent interviewing (28k)

A form of interviewing is described in some detail.  The interviewing combines some of the features of structured and unstructured interviews, and uses a systematic process to refine the information collected

Neighbourhood meetings (20k)

Neighbourhood meetings are small, partly-structured meetings of neighbours, hosted by one of them in her or his home.  They provide higher participation rates and more direct involvement, than many other forms of large-group community participation

Meta-evaluation bibliography (28k)

The bibliography on meta-evaluation (the evaluation of evaluations) was compiled by Patricia Rogers

A naive philosophy of action research (22k)

A pragmatic (and probably naive) approach to philosophy.  This paper was prepared for the areol (action research and evaluation on line) course at the request of some participants

Options (12k)

This is a description of "Option one-and-a-half", a dialectical process in which the strengths of two opposing options are combined to create a third and better option

Action research and participation (5k)

Vikki Uhlmann sets out some reasons why, for her, participation in action research is obligatory or nearly so

Participative processes (26k)

An identification of some of the ways in which participants can be involved in action research, from low involvement as informants to high involvement as co-researchers

Approaching an action research thesis (21k)

The use of action research for theses is considered, taking into account its dual aims of action and research

Action research: understanding its philosophy...  (18k)

Pam Swepson identifies and discusses some of the philosophical assumptions which underlie different forms of research, especially action research

Postgraduate programs using action research  (80k)

In doing research you face a number of choices. This document identifies some of the important choices for those planning a thesis or dissertation, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages that each choice engenders

Qualitative evaluation for program improvement (48k)

An action-research style of evaluation is used to illustrate some of the principles of qualitative evaluation methods

Reflective mechanisms (16k)

Drawing on an evaluation of a fourth-year university class by Adelle Bish, this paper briefly describes the 19 different mechanisms which (in the reports of class members) assisted learning from experience

Reflective questions (12k)

The quality of critical reflection after the event can be helped by questions one can ask oneself before the event.  This file gives questions for use before and after action

Action research and publication (25k)

Some issues related to the use of action research for publication and theses are examined

Rigour in action research (12k)

In those situations it is designed to address, action research can be a rigorous methodology; these tend to be situations where experimental and quasi-experimental methods are not easily applied

Action research: improving rigour and economy (20k)

There are ways in which action respearch can be made more attractive to practitioners, for example by adopting methods for improving both the rigour and the economy in conducting and reporting action research studies

Sources of rigour in action research (28k)

This is a paper which was presented at the Association of Qualitative Research conference in Melbourne in July 1999.  It identifies some of the mechanisms in action research which provide rigour even though action research is typically used in changing situations

Search (48k)

Search is a consensus seeking process.  This paper gives details of a workbook for a particular variety of short search

The Snyder evaluation process: an overview (16k)

An evaluation process is described;  it combines processes for formative, summative and short-cycle evaluation (see next entry)

The Snyder evaluation process (64k)

A fairly detailed description is given of the Snyder evaluation process, a process which combines process evaluation for understanding, outcome evaluation for improvement, and short-cycle evaluation for ongoing improvement

Soft systems methodology (20k)

Titled "Appropriate validity and its attainment", this paper by Bob Dick and Pam Swepson uses soft systems methodology to illustrate some of the ways in which action research processes like soft systems methodology can achieve good standards of rigour

Stakeholder analysis (9k)

This technique, probably originating with Richard Beckhard, allows a group of people to pool their assumptions about various people and their attitude to change, and identify ways of approaching them

Theory and experience (12k)

The nature and use of theory are briefly considered and some of the traps in the use of theory are identified

TRDEV-L favourite books (28k)

A list of books compiled by Marcia Connor from suggestions offered by subscribers to the training and development email list

The validity chain (20k)

There are many gaps between experience, and what an interviewer eventually interprets from the data about that experience collected at interview.  There are some steps which can be taken to reduce the gaps

The effective practitioner: a workbook (13k)

A workbook-style process which can be used to analyse and learn from an interaction which you would like to have handled differently

Information sharing using voting (28k)

Allowing participants multiple votes, perhaps within a cyclic voting process, can be used for exchanging information between participants about their priorities


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Maintained by Bob Dick  [visit his home page?]; this version 2.5w last revised 20140405

The URL of this document is