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Steps in Writing an Action Research Paper

If you are wondering what an action research is, and how to write it, most probably you major in Sociology or Psychology, because this term has evolved from social studies rather recently (in the first half of XX century). First of all, don’t get too nervous, because finally it will be the same research you are used to, just with some peculiarities. Secondly, despite the fact that there are not enough tips on writing an action research paper online, with this article and some extra materials and samples available you will have a rather clear picture. Third, if you want to start composing right away, you can use the brief version of our manual and later come back for more details if necessary.

  • Note! Doing action research, unlike standard research, a sociologist don’t only tries to analyze a particular problem, but also aims to solve it by introducing some immediate changes and assessing their effect.

5 Facts about Action Research You Have to Acknowledge

  1. In the action research researchers are mostly actors (those who act) themselves.
  2. Different research approaches and practices towards the same problem should be emphasized in your paper.
  3. Your key focus should be pointed at the group involvement.
  4. As a researcher you are not obligated to stay objective.
  5. Basically, action research consists of cycles, each of which should include planning, action, supervision and reflection.

Four Steps for Writing a Good Action Research Paper:

Step #1. State the problem and collect information

Remember, every social problem is important, but not every problem is a smart choice for your action paper. Of course, if you are exceptionally passionate about something, you should use it and make it work for your research. However, it is much more beneficial to choose the problem, which topicality is not questionable, especially if you are looking for a grant. Collect information regarding what has already been done and written about this issue, make sure that there is still room for improvement and innovation and collect your findings. Discuss them inside the group.

Step #2. Make a plan

Every research writing process requires a plan, but here we are talking about another type of planning. You should plan the action itself, the way you will assess it, and even the questions you have to ask actors (starting from yourself) in order to reflect on the findings. Remember, that you might need to make changes while the research is conducted, precisely after each cycle, so try not to make your plan too rigid. Action research is similar to the SCRUM technology widely used by IT companies as the most productive way of work. You can plan just the first phase, and general points of the following ones, and adjust them accordingly later. It increases uncertainty, but it makes your action research real, legit and valid.

Step #3. Act and Observe, Act and Observe

In fact, the action here is almost no different from our standard action in life when we try to solve some particular problem. The major difference is that when trying to solve a problem in real life, we are much less focused on the process and level of influence of the variety of factors. Acting, note down all the changes, all the observations, reactions and finally what have changed. It is not a full assessment, which you will do later. These are just preliminary notes you should later use not to forget about important insights. Change one or two factors and act again. It is better to change influence factors one by one, so you know how relevant each of them is to the particular problem, how important it is in terms of solving it.

Step #4. Supervise the received results

At this stage, you have to gather all the information possible, all the notes you have made, and analyze them scientifically. More personal reflection should be done after the received results are assessed. If you have several participants, unite notes and make an assessment according to the preliminary plan. Remember, you are not looking for facts about the problems, you should concentrate on options to solve the problem, it is what makes this type of research unique.

Of course, methodologically this kind of research is not fully stable and sometimes has more questions than answers, but it is a valuable part of sociology and using it makes your understanding of the particular problem much deeper.