Saturday, September 25, 2010

Voice of the Editor: Reflecting on Yoland Wadsworth's work

Part of the fun of being editor is that people send their books my way -- and I usually send them to Bob Dick who offers a book review reflecting over many months' worth of publications in the action research "space." But I also take a peek (of course!)

And indeed Yoland Wadsworth has just sent me two papers that presaged her new magnum opus (to use Michael Quinn Patton's term in the Foreword) -- which is on its way by mail. She sent them to me just before the start of the world congress of action learning and action research being held this year in Australia (which includes her giving a keynote) ...thanks Yoland!

I had not been aware of how much the typology of the Jungian Myers Briggs informs Yoland's work in her 'take' on systemic inquiry processes – which she presents as 'writ small' in the human person. It seems quite timely to me that a more human-centered - which necessarily means individual-centered - approach come back to join 'the social' in the systems approach to systems change that informs the work of so many of us... thank you Yoland for spending so much mindspace on articulating this so well. And good luck with your keynote!

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Editor ARJ
Portland, OR

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Voice of the Editor--Special Issues in the works

Much of the associate editors' attention goes to developing special issues. As a result we have some great special issues in the works... e.g., Mary Brydon Miller with Patricia Gaya Wicks and Victor Friedman have come a long way toward the finish line with the "Action Research and the Arts Special Issue." This is the first time that a SI - or any issue - will make extensive use of the ARJ website - where artwork can be posted that otherwise would not fit in the regular journal issue. We are excited about the innovation this portends.
Patricia Gaya Wicks is also leading the development of a special issue on "Crafting Action Research as Thesis/Dissertation." The international special issue team that Patch has called together is about to get busy soon as the deadline they set is fast approaching.

Marianne Kristiansen is heading up a special issue on Power and Action Research. Many of us are drawn to AR, it seems to me, because we work a little unconventionally within organizational power dynamics. I am therefore intrigued to see what will manifest in this SI. Marianne's editorial team includes action researchers from the Southern Hemisphere whose Marxian and Frerian roots will doubtlessly make their perspective quite different from the more dialogue oriented North.
And we have an SI led entirely by guest editors with little previous connection to the editorial board of ARJ. Sue Oreszczyn & Les Levidow of the open university in the UK are leading a SI on Civil society research for sustainable development. Best wishes to them. We look forward to working in partnership with them so that we all learn together how to make the ARJ process work for invited lead guest editors also.
I will end with an invitation that you either consider contributing to a special issue or simply watching out for these in the months to come!
Hilary Bradbury-Huang, ARJ Editor.
Portland, OR.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update from the World Congress of Action Research posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

Just back from Melbourne and the World Congress of Action Research.

Me and my canine friend Lucy at a beachbox on Brighton Beach

The Melbourne Skyline

Robin McTaggart and Jacques Boulet at the World Congress

I can’t possibly do justice here to all of the brillant work that was presented and will hope to be able to invite some of the folks I heard speak to post to the blog themselves over the next few weeks, but highlights from the event included Budd Hall’s address on the knowledge democracy movement, Yoland Wadworth’s book launch, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s presentation on Māori methodology and her search for decolonizing methodologies. I’ve always really admired Smith’s work and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear her speak. Marie Brennan’s talk was also an amazing analysis of neoliberalism and education.

David Coghlan, Pat Maguire, Rosalie Holian and I had a session on ethics and action research in which we discussed the ways in which covenantal ethics and the model I dicussed in the blog earlier could be applied to insider action research, teacher action research, and community-based action research. I especially appreciated the discussion that followed our presentations and the feedback we received from those attending the session, which will certainly inform the next iteration of this idea.

We also had a session on global networking in which we presented a first draft map of action research sites around the world and shared this blog site with everyone! We’ll post the map to the blog as soon as we get it updated with all the sites we gathered from folks at the WC. You’ll be amazed to see the diversity of sites from all around the world engaged in various forms of action research…it’s really inspiring!

But of course the best part of such events is always seeing old friends and meeting new ones and the four days were filled with such moments. It was wonderful to see everyone and thanks to Jacques, Mish, Meg and all the other folks at Borderlands and ALARA for their warm welcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From the Editor--State of the Journal: An Advisory Board Update

For the Editor's blog this week I want to share the semi annual update on ARJ activities that I recently shared with the ARJ Journal's advisory board.

I. Updates.

i. Our ARJ "manifesto" now sits on the home page: You may recall you added your signature and having it on the home page allows easier access and citation. As a reminder here’s how it starts up:
We, the undersigned leaders and friends of the Action Research journal, believe that our journal flourishes by serving the community of action researchers and putting its contributions at the service of society and our planet. As a community we are committed to doing work that brings appreciable positive impact through the collaborative character of our research.
ii. Now that ARJ has been inducted into the all important social science citation index, we can next expect the first “Impact Factor” to be published in June 2011. Thomson Reuters will count citations in 2010 to articles published in 2008 and 2009. I think it would be too optimistic to expect a high impact score in the early months and years; building reputation, at least as expressed in citations is a process that may take a long time. That said, we are so pleased to have been selected for the social science citation index as this is a significant help with making the journal a premier destination especially for younger scholars.
iii. Our acceptance rate now runs at around 25%. My hunch, watching the numbers over the years, is that we will stabilize at or around 20%. Not shabby! And we can take some pride in knowing that the 80% rejected usually experience a developmental approach which, we hope, does not deter from future engagement with the journal.

Accepted papers are now published in "on-line first" format which means they do not languish too long between final acceptance and public access. The current batch sit at:
iv. The advisory editorial board has modified the "quality criteria" that inform authors what we are looking for in a paper. This happened as part of the ongoing review process among the associate editors, through which we reflect on such things as the quality criteria. The criteria are posted on the site with manuscript submission information. It starts out as follows:

“The seven criteria listed on the ‘Quality Criteria’ page of the web-site are the product of ARJ associate editor board members’ ‘collogue’ on what constitutes ‘quality in action research.’ To start off the process of agreeing on these criteria, the Editor-in-Chief and each of the Editors on the Associate Board completed a questionnaire in which we ranked and commented on the existing quality criteria in terms of how we saw their relevance and importance to the journal.”
v. We have a number of Special Issues underway. For example Action Research and the Arts is coming to fruition – there was a bumper response which Mary Brydon-Miller has managed to pare down to what is shaping up to be a terrific issue. There are additional calls for papers to various special issues, including one whose guest editors have not been closely associated with the journal to date. We hope this signals our openness and our desire for a “big tent” approach. That SI may be found on our home page also: Civil Society Research for Sustainable Development.
vi. We created a new layout for the journal - matching most other SAGE journals. We therefore took the opportunity to update all the information on the site. Importantly we now acknowledge the Associate Editor who led the review for each paper and invite comments from readers on the blog. Therefore each article now ends with, for example, “We thank Dr. Davydd Greenwood for leading the review process for the authors of this paper. Should you have comments/reactions you wish to share, please bring them to the interactive portion of our website:”
Now speaking of interactivity …
II. II. REQUEST: blog now and then! RSVP with your interest to Hilary ( and check out the blog:
Drs. Mary Brydon Miller, Meghna Guhathakurta, Steve Waddell and myself formed a team to advance ARJ connectivity. Mary engaged a handful of innovative and enthusiastic grad students at her Center for AR at University of Cincinnati to help out. In fact they have done most of the terrific work so far. As a result we now have the daily ARJ blog. Each weekday is devoted to a specific topic, one of which is to offer the "Voice of the Editor." I have been using that spot to share about our quarterly associate editor board meetings as well as drawing attention to the articles coming out in the new issue. It is now time to expand upon that.
The request: Please consider if you'd like to write a blog post (i.e., an informal, first person perspective on a subject of your choice that is relevant to the AR community) and how often (once a month, once every 2 months, daily is OK too!). Topics could simply include "what's on your mind now." Please include links to your own site and show your work off. In time we hope to use the blog as a showcase for the exciting AR work all over the world.
Next step 1) RSVP and let me know of your interest and/or 2) send me a blog post and I will upload it for you - or, if you prefer, let you know how to do it yourself.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Voice of the Editor - A personal update from Hilary

I’ll offer a personal update -- I have joined the faculty of Oregon's Health & Sciences University Division of Management as Professor of Management. Much of August was therefore spent arriving from LA to Portland (I can't believe that we really have that much stuff!).  Portland may well be the most sustainable/green city in the USA (which redoubles my commitment to de-stuff all that stuff I didn't even think I had!). Here in Portland, it's a pleasure start new exciting work with colleagues on participative approaches to sustainable global health. Please be in touch with any and all ARJ related matters, all advice and insight always welcome. My new contact information is:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang 黄喜蕊, Ph.D.
Professor, Division of Management
Oregon Health & Science University
BICC 405 School of Medicine
Portland, Oregon 97239
Office: + 1 503 346 0367

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Teaching Research Ethics with guest blogger Kenneth D. Pimple

I have directed the annual Teaching Research Ethics Workshop (TRE) since its inception in 1993. Nearly 700 researchers, research administrators, and others have participated in the workshop.

For the first several years of the workshop, I was continually surprised at how many TRE participants were mystified by the idea of teaching ethics. I'm not surprised any more, but I still don't understand its cause. Sometimes the mystification manifests as frank hostility - "You can't teach anyone to be ethical. If they didn't learn it in kindergarten, it's too late." More often it comes out as simple cluelessness, as if they can't guess what "research ethics" might mean, let alone how it could be taught.

With few exceptions, I've seen the cloud of mystery lift without too much fuss. At its base, research ethics is perfectly simple. I've formulated a list of "the ten most important things to know about research ethics". The first five are

1. Be honest.

2. Be fair.

3. Do no harm.

4. Do good research.

5. Know and follow the rules.

The heretofore mystified one might say, "Well, isn't all of that obvious?" That's the point. Once the veil of mystery is lifted anyone can see that the core values of research are not profound, hard to grasp, or controversial. This takes off the pressure so we can face the more difficult issues without too much trepidation. For example, one might ask, "What does it mean to be honest?"

For everyday use, we can just accept that we know honesty and dishonesty when we see them, that we expect people to be honest, and that we don't respect people who aren't. To be sure, on extraordinary occasions, deciding (for example) whether a particular statement is honest can be challenging, fraught with nuance and subtle distinctions, and require learning some factual matters that are not easily uncovered - such as the intention of the speaker or writer(s) of the statement at the time the statement was made. The extraordinary cases are tough, but they also provide an intellectual challenge for the practice and teaching of research ethics.

There's a great deal more to research ethics than being honest and fair and following the rules, and teaching the "more" is what makes it interesting. But it also helps to remind everyone of the basics once in a while.