You and Your Action Research Project

You and Your Action Research Project

You and Your Action Research Project

You and Your Action Research Project


This book gives practical guidance on doing an action research project as part of an award-bearing course. Packed with useful advice, it takes the practitioner-researcher through the various stages of a project, from action planning to writing the report. It deals comprehensively with gathering and interpreting the data, and also with issues concerning the criteria by which action research reports are judged. This book is thoroughly practical, and will encourage readers to try out new strategies for improving their work.Action research is firmly established on award-bearing courses in INSET and Continuing Professional Development. This book is essential reading for resource managers in schools, college and higher education who are responsible for providing courses and support.


Jean McNiff, Pam Lomax, Jack Whitehead

This book has been written in response to numerous requests from practitioners over the years for a basic guide to educational action research. We have resisted writing it until now, because in our opinion, one should not tell others how to do action research. The term embodies a whole set of principles, processes and procedures that one has to experience personally for the whole process to make sense. We felt that any book that legislated would in fact deny the essence of action research.

However, several trends have made us write the book now. Three World Congresses (1990, 1992, 1994) in Brisbane and Bath, on Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management have shown that there is a worldwide debate among researchers about the standards of judgement which can be used to define educational action research and good quality action research. There does appear to be agreement that anecdotal or non-self-reflective accounts, no matter how valuable in some contexts, could not, on their own, count as action research. Second, action research is appearing increasingly on award-bearing courses. Often it appears as a module or a piece of small-scale research. Whilst we are supportive and wish to encourage self-reflective practice we want to avoid our work being used to justify a self-contained technical exercise. In saying this, we want to emphasise the importance of your originality, imagination and creative capacities in retaining ownership of your own action enquiry. We draw many examples from the work of Pam and some of her colleagues on the MA programme at Kingston University to show how ownership can be retained by the individual action researcher. Jean’s good friend Úna Collins in Dublin has said, ‘You have to show me the steps before I can dance’. Action research is only one kind of dance, and the steps we follow are only one version of that dance.

We are asking you to approach our text in the spirit of an invitation to dance. If you see anything of value in what we are doing, do use it and create your own approach in your own context. By offering your account it gives other people the opportunity to learn from you.

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