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Research Methods Information: Action Research

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Action Research

What is Action Research?

Action Research | Definitions

"Action research
is applied research that is oriented towards producing innovation and change." [1]

"Action research differs from conventional research methods in three fundamental ways. First, its primary goal is social change. Second, members of the study sample accept responsibility for helping resolve issues that are the focus of the inquiry. Third, relationships between researcher and study participants are more complex and less hierarchical." [2]

"Action research, also known as participatory research, is learning by doing in the sense that a group of workers identify a problem, develop a resolution, implement the solution and then analyze the final results. The action research process consists of five steps in the cycle: diagnosing, action planning, taking action, evaluating, and specifying learning. The process is known for on-the-job research, and not the scientific method type study created in a lab." [3]


[1] Powers, B.A. &  Knapp, T. (2010). "Action Research." In their Dictionary of Nursing Theory and Research. 4th edition. (NY: Springer), pg. 1.

[2] Adams, P. (2010). Action Research. In Neil J. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design. (pp. 5-10). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:

[3] Lombardo, J. (n.d.).  What Is Action Research? - Executing Organizational Change. In the Educational Portal course Business 107: Organizational Behavior.

Selected Books on Action Research

Selected Books in the APUS Library


VIDEOS on Action Research

Web Resources on Action Research