Why write about action research?

Andrew Townsend,
Senior Lecturer in Educational Leadership, University of Leicester, UK


The conduct of action research, unlike other models of research, is more to do with achieving principled change than in producing and publishing knowledge, as Kurt Lewin said in support of action research “research that produces nothing but books will not suffice” (Lewin, 1946:  35).  However whilst writing and publication might be a subordinate aim to action in action research there is still, it is suggested in this article, a strong case to be made for writing and publishing from action research.  In particular, following a brief exploration of the principles behind writing from research, three main advantages to writing from action research in particular are explored.  The first of these refers to some of the benefit of writing to the writer themselves, with writing being described as a reflective and reflexive process, indeed a form of inquiry in its own right.  Building upon these personal benefits a case is made for the collaborative benefits of writing.  These are related to the collaborative principles of action research and to notions of narratives.  This article then conducts a broader exploration of the potential for writing to play a part in developing a broader community of action researchers.  This, it is suggested, is a consequence of developing extended dialogue through publishing from action research which can result in the formation and maintenance of extended communities, or networks, of action researchers.  Finally this article concludes with a brief commentary on the nature of writing from action research, as opposed to other forms of research, and speculates that this could be considered one means of enacting the reflexive principles of the discipline of action research and of the participatory inclinations of action researchers.

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