Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Critical Reflection and the World Congress - Mary Brydon-Miller

“Being value neutral is not a pretense action researchers uphold!” In her recent note from the field “What is good action research?” Hilary Bradbury Huang, the Editor-in-Chief of ARJ, makes clear why it is so important that action resesarchers spend time reflecting on their own values and the principles that guide our shared practice. In “Why Action Research?” Davydd Greenwood, Patricia Maguire and I queried all of the members of the Editorial Board of Action Research asking them what had drawn them to become involved in doing action research. Based on the responses we received, we summed up our shared value system by suggesting that as action researchers “we commit ourselves to a form of research which challenges unjust and undemocratic economic, social, and political systems and practices.” (Brydon-Miller, Greenwood, & Maguire, 2003, p. 11). We went on to offer specific principles of practice: “a respect for people and for the knowledge and experience they bring to the research process, a belief in the ability of democratic processes to achieve positive social change, and a commitment to action” (p. 15). This “moral obligation to react against inequality and injustice and to endeavor to contribute to change through our research work” (Härnsten & Holmstrand, 2008, 171), should be reflected at each stage of the research process, from the initial definition of a research question or issue through the development of strategies to implement the recommendations of the research to bring about positivechange and to disseminate the findings so that others might learn from our example. At this year’s World Congress of Action Research, my colleagues David Coghlan, Rosalie Holian, Patricia Maguire, Randy Stoecker and I will be considering how we might develop a system for conducting critical reflection on the values that inform our practice as action researchers at each stage of the research process. Over the next few weeks leading up to the World Congress I will be exploring what kinds of ethical issues we might identify at each stage of the AR process and I would welcome your comments, experiences, and insights into the process.

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