Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The QUIPPED Project: Exploring Relevance and Rigor of Action Research Using Established Principles and Criteria

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The QUIPPED Project: Exploring Relevance and Rigor of Action Research Using Established Principles and Criteria

Article excerpt

Interventions in complex, real world settings are subject to multiple economic, political, and social factors (Murray, 2002) for which it has been argued traditional experimental research designs "may not be adequate, appropriate or reasonable" (Stone, 2006, p. 260). Action Research (AR) is increasingly utilized in a variety of fields as its potential value is appreciated; however, it is still criticized for its lack of rigor. It has become more widely accepted that criteria developed for positivist research are not appropriate for the design and evaluation of research outside this paradigm. One important outcome of this discourse is the need to develop criteria for each form of research which is based on the assumptions and principles specific to that methodology.

Action Research is described as carefully planned iterative cycles to "develop an increasingly detailed picture of the problem situation and at the same time move closer to a solution to this problem" (Davison, Martinsons, & Kock, 2004, p. 68). Action Research has been recognized for the relevance of its results but criticized as lacking in rigor, and while relevancy and rigor in research have often been viewed as mutually exclusive, this need not be the case (Davison et al.). While the word "rigor" suggests "exactness" this concept has also been defined as "the correct use of methods and analyses appropriate to the task at hand" (Benbasat & Zmud, 1999, p. 5).

Davison and colleagues (2004) developed a set of five interdependent principles and associated criteria appropriate to the goals of AR which were designed to be practical and specific to provide guidelines for researchers and reviewers in designing and evaluating the rigor and relevance of AR. They are not meant to be restrictive or rigid but rather to "facilitate the clear and systematic presentation of ideas and findings, at the same time helping researchers to justify their choices of action, their contributions to knowledge and their conclusions" (Davison et al., p. 66). Stringer (2007) suggests that for AR, when considering what is correct and appropriate, issues of context must be considered and that what is necessary is "a detailed description of the context(s), activities, and events that are reported as part of the outcomes of the study" (p. 59).

There is consistency between the sets of principles proposed to guide AR amongst researchers (Davison et al., 2004; Nielsen, 2007; Street, 2003; Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2009) as illustrated in Table 1 below. However, Davison and colleagues have generated a specific and systematic set of criteria for these principles, 31 in total, which help to clearly outline research and discourse about the quality of AR.

Criteria to judge the quality of AR are necessary if results are to be accepted, especially in fields such as health care. This paper will demonstrate how each principle developed by Davison and colleagues (2004) was incorporated into the research plan and process for the Queen's University Interprofessional Patient-centred Education Direction project (QUIPPED) and how the criteria necessary to fulfill these principles were monitored in order to:

--Provide transparency for others to judge the rigor of the research by determining if the principles of AR were incorporated appropriately and sufficiently.

--Provide sufficient details of an AR project to allow reader to determine if the interventions used in this project would be suitable for their context.

--To determine if these principles and criteria are effective in assessing the rigor and relevance of AR and therefore their ability to provide credibility for AR.

--Highlight some potential challenges to meeting these criteria as well as some possible solutions.

The five principles and the 31 criteria are listed in Appendix 1.

Application of Proposed Principles and Criteria of AR

Context of the QUIPPED project. …

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