Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the desk of the editor: Hilary Bradbury-Huang

Considering the past ten and inventing the next ten years for Action Research journal.

The associate editors’ board for ARj met at Cornell University earlier this month to consider what we have accomplished in the past decade with the journal and what we hope to accomplish in the next.  We find ourselves surprised to be already 10 years old as a journal. We plan to formally celebrate in August 2013. In the meantime we’ll use social media to gather suggestions from our readers and Twitter followers on how best to celebrate. The theme for our celebration is “10 for 10.” But ten what you may well ask? And that is where your suggestions come in. Do we want to hear what are the ten favorite articles? Do we want to hear what are the top 10 requests for how ARj might better serve our readership and community?  We are all ears!

So what did we accomplish in Cornell? We got to know one another better. We each shared what were important milestones for us in becoming action researchers.  We also shared what we saw as strengths and obstacles. We crafted a vision and mission statement: Arj exists to “re-enchant knowledge creation for a sustainable world.” Most important, we decided that the development of an online community, tightly linked with the journal and using social media, is key to disseminating the action research perspective to a wider audience. It is also key to developing the next generation of action researchers. And we were happy to have a little fun together, to eat and drink well enough in each others company that we agreed to meet again in a couple of years. By 2014 we will know what we have accomplished in terms of growing our rigor and our vigor as an international community.
I invite you to look at this short video of Mary Brydon Miller’s reflection on the themes of a half days conversation. It shares a taste of our meeting and I hope sparks some thoughts for you on how to engage with us.
Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays
Hilary


video

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A book for all stages: a review of Building in Research and Evaluation: Human Inquiry for Living Systems


In this post, Dian Chase, a PhD Candidate at Oregon Health and Science University, reviews Dr. Yoland Wadsworth's book, Building in Research and Evaluation: Human Inquiry for Living Systems.

 Yoland Wadsworth (2010).  Building in research and evaluation: human inquiry for living systems.  Action Research Press, Hawthorn and Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

What questions do you have about participatory research?  As a student, researcher and teacher, I have many.  From the why to the wherefore, from abstract to the concrete, Dr. Wadsworth’s book provides insights and answers.  This is a book with many purposes.  Bringing together concepts from systems theory, traditional inquiry, organizational behavior, and quality improvement, this book provides an intellectual basis for action resource.  Using metaphor (the inquiry cycle as a house was especially apt), checklists, and concrete examples, the concepts are accessible and useful for students, researchers and instructors.  And by her evident passion for working with, rather than on, people, Dr. Wadsworth reminds us of our motivation to pursue this work.
Like a map, this book provides a road map for meaningful inquiry; like a mirror, it reminds us of the need to build time for reflection into our planning rather than proceeding blindly down a pathway.  From that reflection, we draw insights that guide our actions.  By asking questions, we can broaden our insights and include others in our journey.  By focusing on fixing problems, we often create other problems.  By understanding the processes, we can create change that is meaningful and lasting.  This book is a guide to doing just that.
This book will be useful to me in many ways.  As a student, it helps tie together concepts and provide a framework for understanding.  As a researcher, the reminders, checklists and conceptual cycles (would that things would ever go linearly) provide touchstones for where my focus should be.  And as a teacher, the examples will help me make participatory research come alive.  It will have a place on my desk, rather than my bookshelf – a work for all stages of growth rather than a one time read.
Dian Chase

You can get more information about Dr. Wadsworth's book at the book's website. This book can be found in Europe,  UK, USA, and the Middle East at the publisher's site right here and in Australia, NZ, and Asia from the publisher at this link.  We'd be interested to hear your thoughts and comments as well!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Can Migraine Management be Action Research?


Some people might think Larry Smarr is crazy. After collecting enormous amounts of data, Larry arrived at his physician’s office with graphs and tables. Larry Smarr is not crazy. In fact, astrophysicist Larry Smarr had discovered his Crohn’s disease before medical science did and before he had noticeable symptoms. He contends that individuals can take responsibility for and manage their own health and that modern computing technology can help. In an article in The Atlantic, Mark Bowden recounts this tale of a man who realized that an individual is an expert about his/her own body. Smarr’s story illustrates that with data from monitoring one’s health, a person can be warned, and therefore, armed against serious health threats.
In my ARJ article on migraine management as action research, I give implicit assent to Smarr’s primary assertion and to an ancient Greek directive to know oneself. In the first-person, managing a chronic health condition is action research. The person who suffers is an expert about the health condition and the suffering that goes along with it. This person may choose to welcome second-person collaborations with family, friends, and healthcare professionals. Beyond the realm of one’s social interactions, third-person resources can also be helpful. Ultimately, managing one’s life can be perceived as ongoing cycles of Participatory Action Research, whereby a person engages others in order to stay well and be his or her optimal self.
In Participatory Action Research, it is vital to engage in analyses that expose one’s action logics to scrutiny. It can lead a person to eschew inauthentic acts and thoughts in favor of authentic ones.
As a psychologist, researcher, and a person with a disability from a chronic health condition, I’m interested in others’ views on this topic. Are the types of self-scrutiny that I describe and that Smarr evidences indicative of well-being? Or, is it plain old narcissism? 
I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Lauren S. Seifert

Access this article online