Chapter Seven: Participatory Action Research
The Basics of Action Research
• Action research is a collaborative approach to research that provides people with
the means to take systematic action in an effort to resolve specific problems.
• People reflect on their present situation and attempt to find solutions to their
problem. Highly collaborative, reflective, experiential and participatory.
• You should not use action research if you want to draw comparison, to simply
describe or explore a group, or to plan to undertake some form of inferential
evaluation of a situation, setting, set of events or phenomenon.
• Looking: The researcher assesses the situation and creates a picture about what is
going on. This involves gathering information and considering who the
stakeholders are and what their interests may be. When evaluating the researcher
defines and describes the problem to be investigated and the context in which it is
• Thinking: Thinking involves making interpretations and offering some
explanation about the case at hand. During evaluation, the researcher analyzes the
information collected while looking over the situation and interprets the situation,
as it currently exists.
• Action: The central purpose of action research is to resolve some matter and take
action toward improving the lives of participants (stakeholders). In terms of
evaluation, the researcher considers which actions might effect the best positive
changes in the organization and lives of the participants. Stakeholders themselves
who are responsible for choosing a new plan of action.
1. Identifying the research questions
2. Gathering the information to answer questions
3. Analyzing and interpreting the information
4. Sharing the results with the participants
Identifying the Research Questions
• The first stage of the action research process involves the researcher assisting the
people in the research population-the stake holders- to examine their situation and
to recognize their problems.
• The problem should be of importance to the stake holder not just to the
• A good way to develop answerable relevant questions is to brainstorm or perhaps
conduct focus groups with participants.
Analyzing and Interpreting the Information
• Data analysis from the action research perspective involves examination of the
data in relation to potential resolutions to the questions or problems identifies
during the first stage of the research process.
• “Who, what, where, when, why” enable participants to focus on what the purpose
of the study is and help identify associated influences. • The purpose here is not for participants to make quality judgments about these
elements, but rather to assess the data and clarify information that has been
Descriptive Accounts and Reports
1. Critical that accounts reflect the perceptions of all participants in the study, if it
excludes some things it may provide an inadequate basis for viable action.
2. Except in situation in which the stakeholders amount to only a very few people,
all of them usually cannot be included in all the steps of the process all the time.
Sharing the results with participants
• One of the operative principles of action research is to inform and empower
people to work collectively to produce some beneficial change. This necessarily
includes both informal and formal meetings with the investigator at every stage of
the research process.
• Results are shared by meeting and presentation, along with full written reports are
given out as well and they can also go on a webpage.
• Recently photography has been used in action research to give more insight into
individual’s viewpoints and perceptions
• Referred to as the photo voice, subjects are given cameras and asked to
photograph certain aspects of their life
• They document what they see
• The photographs are then discussed among participants and then shared with
Chapter 8: Unobtrusive Research
• Unobstrusive and nonreactive Measures are those that so not entail direct
interaction with the subjects being studied; i.e there is no talking to,
interviewing, questioning of the subject
• It involves studying social artifacts, traces, or other materials or events. In
other words, it involves studying things that humans have interacted with.
• Example: Studying the Mafia. You can study them by inspecting court
transcripts when they are arrested in order to get insight into how they
operate. You aren’t supposed to interview them, you are inspecting the
transcripts of the court proceedings maybe even inspecting police records,
• Some material in organized and stored. This material can either be made for
public consumption or only for private consumption
• Public archival records can include any material collected and organized and
stored by the government officials or private companies, however the material is
available to the public either free or for a cost
• This can include libraries, vehicular registry, police reports, credit card billing
companies, search engine requests. • Commercial Media Records store information that can be accessed for study.
This includes video or audio records and tv programs, tv interviews and tv
• Actuarial records are events that get recorded and cataloged and stored
• This includes: marriages, death records, birth records, credit record, death
certificates, crime statistics, property sales records
• some data is in aggregate form: totaled up
- total break and enters for the city of Toronto
- difficult to know what is included and what is no included
- whether some information is missing in the total or not
• Official documentary record is material that is recorded and stored for a
specific audience. It consists of census material, court transcripts, crime statistics,
newsletters, printed emails, police dash cams, school records, security cameras.
• Private archival records: solicited and unsolicited documents private records
include information that is recorded and intended for a smaller restricted
• Autobiographies, diaries, letters, photographs, home movies or videos, sketches,
drawings, blogs, face book page, linked in page, letters
• If the information occurs naturally it can be discovered by the research, this is a
unsolicited source of information
• If the researcher needs to request this information, as is the case if you want to
see a diary, this is a solicited source of information
Physical Erosion and Accretion
• Physical Erosion: researchers can also access information by looking at erosion
• When people come into contact with things, they affect the think they touch or
• It wears out, it erodes and by looking at wear patterns are, researchers can also
collect valuable info about the movement of people. This can be seen on carpets
and wear on any object
• Accretions research: it involves studying deposits, humans excrete things,
material gets left behind, it can also be studied through nature: garbage, litter dust
Chapter 9: Historical Research
• Social Historical research, also referred to as comparative analysis, is a type of
• It is unobtrusive because the research will not affect the data being collected,
unlike an interview. It amounts to examining what has happened in the past, by
inspecting traces of human activity (documents)
• It involves a systematic collection and evaluation of data to describe, explain, and
understand what has occurred in the past.
• The data used to accurately and as completely as possible, reconstruct what
happened during a certain time period • The purpose is to determine what happened in the past and can show present
issues that continue to affect us today. The researcher attempts to understand the
literal and latent meaning of the documents.
• When analyzing historical documents (contextual), the time within they are
written affects the words used to describe different phenomena. The same word
could have a different meaning today than in the past.
• Internal criticism: documents must be assessed to determine what it means and its
• Once data is collected its content is analyzed, one may start organizing in themes
and then linking the findings to existing historical knowledge (might refine or
add to a story)
1. Primary Source
- documents prepared by eye witnesses
- documents, drawings, photographs, journals
- must be assessed to determine whether are genuine or not
2. Secondary Source
- a docucment prepared by an individual who was no a direct witness to an
event, but who obtained a description of the event from someone else
- an oral testimony was recorded
3. Tertiary sources
-can be primary and or secondary sources that have been summarized by
someone else, who read them or hear them.
-biographers, dictionaries, encyclopedias
• Oral Histories aren’t new, people have been passing them down through historical
accounts through their children for generations.
• In an academic sense, oral histories are stories about the past that derive from an
interview type situation.
• Oral histories is the recording of an individuals story from the perspective that
he/she is the narrator. (person interviewed is the narrarator)
• They are important because they are able to fill in the detail that sometimes is
missed by traditional types of research, such as documents, etc.
• It gives insight to the human side of the situation you are studying, in greater
detail than can be derived by a document.
Challenges of Oral History
• Oral histories depend on finding people who have experienced what you want
• It may be difficult to find them and may live far from your location
• They are mostly elderly and some are not even alive, some of these issues can