Action Research and Autoethnography

Topics: Scientific method, Research, Participatory action research Pages: 15 (5058 words) Published: November 13, 2013
Literature Review: Autoethnography and Action Research

Within this literature review two emerging research methodologies will be discussed: Action research and autoethnography. Each of these methodologies has their own purposes, powers and strengths and both differ from other traditional forms of academic research. To gain an understanding of these methodologies, 16 pieces of empirical research have been used. Although two articles are dated back to the 1990s, the majority of research is from the 2000s and onward. This review will begin by discussing action research. First, there will be an analysis of the research platform which will demonstrate the stance, approaches, positioning and history behind this methodology. Second, the role of the researcher will be critiqued which will reveal the researcher’s responsibilities, obligations and functions. Autoethnography will then take the same format as action research. First there will be an analysis of its research platform, then second, a critique of the researcher’s role. Finally there will be a discussion which puts both methodologies into perspective for my own future research. Subheadings will be used throughout the review to guide the reader. Action research platform

In the 1940s, Kurt Lewin coined the term ‘action research’. Within this new paradigm, Lewin included two ideas. First, action research was to be based on knowledge which was created through academic research. Second, it was to be based on knowledge which was created while intervening in practice (Bargal, 2008). Although this term was coined 70 odd years ago, this methodology is described as being emergent in nature (Costello, 2011). It is a methodology which has shown to constantly develop over time through the introduction of new models, cycles and justifications for its stance in social science research. Particularly in the last 15 years, the recognition of action research as a valued methodology has changed. In 1999, Avison et al. commented that the academic community had almost totally ignored action research. Across 19 academic journals, only one in 155 articles included action research. More recent literature however has pointed out that action research is now considered a legitimate research methodology as it has flourished across various academic disciplines (Bargal, 2008) including medicine, law, nursing, teaching and business (Palak, 2013). Although this methodology has thrived in recent years, criticisms exist in regards to its scientific basis. Costello (2011) highlighted that some academics view action research as ‘not being scientific enough’ (p. 22). Particularly in education, this realm has thought to be operating largely on ideologies and professional consensus. In disagreement of this, Davis (2013) has noted that action research in education involves complex, analytical, cultural and political processes which have challenged core beliefs, strategies and structures. Furthermore, Palak (2013) has pointed out that like other types of research, this methodology has rigor through its scientific method of inquiry. It involves the asking of questions, collection of data and thorough analysis. Action research is defined primarily by its research design (Mackenzie et al., 2012). Across a range of literature, the purposes and characteristics of action research have shown to be similar. Beginning with Costello (2011), action research is thought of as a process which includes systematic reflection, inquiry and action. These are carried out by individuals to aid their own professional practices. This type of research allows professionals to study their own practice in order to improve, change and reform. Parallel to this, Mackenzie et al. (2012) has noted that action research involves three stages: inquiry, action and reflection. Through these stages there are identified opportunities for practitioners to improve knowledge and understanding, influence social action and open up new...

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