Monday, October 24, 2011

Back into the Field

In 2005 Shankar Sankaren wrote his “Notes from the Field,” for the Action Research Journal about the sabbatical he took and the many Action Researchers he met during his travels in the US.  One of the over arching themes of Shankar’s reflection was how to increase conversation among Action Researchers spread across the globe.  Could websites be the needed portal for connectivity?  What about conferences and professional networking opportunities?  Or, how about good old fashion books and journals as ways of sharing information and keeping in touch?

These aforementioned methods are great, and combined with technological applications such as skype, blogging, facebook, twitter, and other social media, it appears that keeping in touch and sharing information is easier now than it ever has been.  The combination of communication technology and modern travel make it easy for people to connect in either the virtual or real worlds.

It with these thoughts in mind that I realize how fortunate the Action Research Center, the University of Cincinnati, and the City of Cincinnati are to be hosting Professor Sankaren.  Over the past few weeks I have had pleasure of working in the same space as Shankar, attending meetings together, discussing dissertation ideas, and even arranging a visit for us to volunteer our time at Gorman Heritage Farm —really working in the field.  As an environmentalist, I am often overly critical of long distance travel because of the fuel burned.  However, there is no substitution for “being there,” wherever that is.  Travel and face-to-face meetings, working side-by-side, cultural immersion, and sitting around the same table with others are invaluable experiences. 

John Hemmerle, Shankar Sankaren, Alan Wight
Gorman Heritage Farm - October 18th, 2011

As Peter Reason stated in 2005, “Thank you Shankar for taking the time!”

Alan Wight
Action Research Center
University of Cincinnati

Shankar Sankaren. 2005.  Action Research Journal. Notes from the Field: Action Research Conversations.  3 (4), 341 – 350

Peter Reason. 2005.  Action Research Journal.  Editorial.  3 (4), p 339- 340. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hilary Bradbury-Huang. Participative death and mourning.

Perhaps more personal a blog than usual. I am convening family members for the funeral-memorial of my brother who died in a tragic accident 44 years ago. I see how the spirit of participation, which arises from the philosophy that we live in a participative universe, has shaped this experience. In holding the funeral memorial we remember my brother (Bill) and we also hold in our hearts all whose tragic deaths marked loved ones left behind. I have been curious to note how many of my close friends have had siblings die young and I wonder if we somehow smell that from one another and the huge toll it takes on a family. And as we understand that about one another, not much needs to be said about it. Of course we wonder how can our parents get over such a thing? And yet death and suffering is a natural part of life. Without it all would be fixed, solid, stolid - another form of frozen death. In my eyes the memorial will be held here in Portland, for my parents it will be in Dublin, for my sister in Boston, for my friend in Tel Aviv ... others will light candles around these many masses and chantings of the heart sutra.  We have coordinated our internationally attunded clocks for "participating together" at 10AM/18.00 GMT on Saturday October 1st. This is a 21st Century memorial. By default I love ritual and by practice I have come to love participative ritual. I read a lovely poem today by Wislawa Szymborska - too long to include but called “On death, without exaggeration.” I will, however, include some lines from Emerson - which evoke for me gentle but intense curiosity about the nature of this participative/recycling universe we get to call home for a while.  Wow aren’t we lucky indeed! It's called "All return again."  Please participate!

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new strange disguise. Jesus is not dead; he is very well alive; nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle; at times we believe we have seen them all, and could easily tell the names under which they go.”  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Editor's open letter to all ARJ friends and advisers

Dear ARJ friends & thinking partners:

I write 1) to share some highlights of our annual publication report (Hilary can send an e-copy in addition, if you send her an email), 2) to update you on a couple of important items and 3) to invite your input on a next round of strategy design.

1.       The ARJ associate editor board is renewing/adding to itself.  Our process has been to have a nominations committee who speaks with candidates and then brings names forward for formal selection by the associate editor board. Svante Lifvergren MD joined us most recently to lead the healthcare domain. Additionally we will vote to at the next associate editor board meeting to bring two new associate editors for the domains of organizations and education respectively. Though obvious, it bears stating: those actively “driving” the journal define its contribution for at least a few years out.  We welcome any names you’d offer to the nominations committee.
With regard to the publication report: Clearly the journal is progressing well when measured against conventional performance targets. The trajectory of “numbers/performance measures” in the report support my sense that our ranking will continue to increase, that our citations will increase and that number of downloads will increase. In my view we will likely always be a “niche” journal, but one that clearly has a significant and growing readership, one that is respected. In sum I envisage a dynamic future for our field and for our journal. All this bodes well for “getting the work out there” and for offering tangible credit to scholar colleagues whose promotion is assisted by having journal articles in ranked journals.  

3.       The positive spirit of rejection: Overall we are seeing higher quality work come to us and in higher volume which means we have maintained a relatively high rejection rate (75%).  This is a tricky thing to manage as the spirit of AR is collegial and developmental.  But to the degree possible we offer useful reviews and I have seen enough positive responses from “rejectees” to suggest that our process successfully communicates concern for developing (especially) younger members of the field while also developing quality.
.       What’s next for us strategically?
The associate editor board has weighed in on this topic.  The list of actionable ideas includes:
1.       Inviting all “schools” of action research to create a special issue – thereby using the journal to bridge among various schools/approaches,
  • 2.       To create a variety of special issues on topics that cut across domains,
  • 3.       To create an executive advisory board whose primary role is engage with strategy issues,
  • 4.       To have a face to face meeting as a community,
  • 5.       Invite a series  of interviews with retiring leaders of our field,
  • 6.       Create an alternate publication report around metrics to be determined as part of strategic conversation.

Please add to/comment on this list. What do you want the future of ARJ to be? 

RSVP to Hilary at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hilary Bradbury-Huang on post conventional mindsets that support action research?

I've been thinking that someone ought to name the degree and strength of post conventional mindsets that influence our field.  That someone may as well be me.  First I better define my terms:

Conventional science is what cures cancer and investigates questions such as “how old is the universe?”  In its more social scientific cast, it asks questions such as …these are questions that leads to understanding what causes what.  Action research addresses an entirely different class of inquiry – e.g., “how do we generate collectively positive outcomes” is a question that may be informed by conventional science but is not going to be answered by it. We might go further and say that the questions of real urgency – how do we act on our understanding of climate change, how to we bring our evolutionarily attuned brains to act wisely in the face of heretofore systemic problems we have never confronted as a species. As much as though we draw on conventional science, there is simply no new fact or research protocol that makes these behaviorally and dynamically complex problems solvable. But the post conventional research mind stops looking to the external world alone to find answers. the post conventional research mind uses the capacity for reflexivity, Janus-like ability to look both at the mind that has created the problem as well as the conditions that form the context for action.  The post conventional mind is one that builds on conventional scientific talents (after all most of us were trained with conventional methods) but transcends those to include a greater repertoire of stakeholder engagement.  ... more anon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

From the editors' desk...Hilary Bradbury-Huang on what's happened this summer...

Back from the summer break and what is top of mind is the newly calculated impact factor for the journal.  The calculation essentially answers the question: “if I publish with ARJ what are the chances that my paper will be cited?” Note that this is a separate question from “will it be read”?  The calculation of  impact factor 0.846 suggests that, on average, each paper we publish is cited almost once.  That may sound rather meager perhaps unless you know that the large journals have an average of 4 citations per paper. Because many have been around a very long time they naturally attract a higher readership. We also looked at how it performs relative to “similar” journals. As you know the journal is highly interdisciplinary and its is hard to know which is the best peer set.  However I was very pleased to find it among the top 100 organization & management journals, set of peer journals that is reasonably meaningful and that I – as an organizational scholar by discipline, know well.  So in a nutshell, not bad for ARJ, by publication standards, very much a “new kid on the block,” who, against all the odds, seeks to offer a platform for counter-conventional inquiry.    As to the easier to determine question of “are we read?”  The answer to this is readily seen on our own website with the download counts for popular articles.  Yes we’re read!  I hear we are very popular with those studying qualitative research because we give adequate space to descriptions of methods and processes. Onward and upward then to the important question of "what's next for us?" Given that the world probably doesn't need a periodical, yet we have a good one getting better, what is important for us in meeting what the world (or the international community of action researchers) does need?  To be continued...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

From the Editors' desk. All is change

Hi everyone. I can't wait for my vacation from this blog!! Not that I don't love weekly blogging!! When it goes well there is immediate inspiration to articulate something that has been simmering beneath the conscious surface. And that may well be important.
I find myself thinking about change....”all is change” said Heraclitus and the Buddha said something similar a little beforehand too (it is possible that there was knowledge transfer between these very high cultures of northern India and Southern Greece at around 500 BCE --but I do not wish to digress...)
If “all is change” then what possessed Kurt Lewin to suggest a three phase change model that has been very influential in organizational action research and indeed even in organizational conventional research?! His model went something like: unfreeze the system, make the change, refreeze. It still forms the underlying basis of many change management theories models and strategies for managing change. It still informs much action research.
His premise is that the organization (or any system) is frozen in place - hence we seek to unfreeze things just to begin to make change. More rigorous understanding of reality (a la physics) suggests that all systems are, in fact, extraordinarily dynamic. From the microscopic level up, electrons are whirring around at unimaginable rates, configuring themselves over and over...and in apparently the same way as they just were! Who’d have thunk? Isn't that odd how it all comes together so nicely just the way it was?! Well what if we took scientific insight more seriously as action researchers and allowed ourselves experience that things are, in fact, exactly what they are, namely in profound flux. As such we could imagine how reality can become reconfigured much more easily than we secretly fear. Indeed, a revolution continues to spread across the Middle East, and simultaneously, yes, the Israelis and Palestinians are still at each other’s throats. Both facts are true, change and stubborn stasis. I think about this today as I spent the morning in a faculty meeting and listened to how much all faculty learn from our students about the degree of suffering there is in the workplace. For many our workplaces are simply toxic. This is especially troubling when we consider that the faculty I interact with most spend their time teaching people who work inside healthcare systems. Healthcare systems that make their own employees sick. Hmm.
When I consider that “all is change” then, and I work and teach as an action researcher, I can get in touch with actually how much capacity there is for improving things, after all. “It’s all good” as we say in LA and it could use a lot of improvement. I decide that the insistent reemergence of the status quo comes from fragmentation. There are just too many disconnects among us. However if we can combine our intrinsic capacity for change we'd get, well, change! And that means assuming we can align interests. OK, that is a hard part. But for now at least I have established for myself that acceptance of change as the foundation of how things are means that the spring board from which i invite others to jump with me (toward alignment of interests) is one that is right there -doesn't need to be created - it is how the universe actually is. Einstein is said to have said that the most important question to ask of someone is whether they think the universe is friendly or indifferent. I experience it as friendly. I believe the universe may actually even support non toxic work situations - ones more pleasing (psychologically and socially) to natural systems - we just have to get aligned. Now that’s where action research comes in!

Hilary Bradbury-Huang,
Editor ARJ
Portlandia, USA.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

From the Editors' desk: Welcome Svante Lifvergren to the Associate Editor board at ARJ

I am pleased to announce that Svante Lifvergren, MD., who leads the Centre for Healthcare Improvement (CHI), Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg in Sweden has agreed to join us at ARJ. Svante will be part of the ARJ journal's associate editor board. He will lead the growing healthcare domain. I speak for all of my colleagues on the AE board -- Drs. Mary Brydon-Miller, Victor Friedman, Patricia Gaya Wicks, Davydd Greenwood, Meghna Guhathakurta, Marianne Kristiansen and Ernie Stringer-- in offering welcome to Svante.
Svante is both a scholar and practitioner. In leading CHI, he says the main idea behind the Center is to enhance quality improvement work in healthcare from a patient point of view, by facilitating learning about improvement across boundaries. In this way the action is toward a creative rather than reactive approach to health and wellbeing. Healthcare PAR is therefore very much alive and thriving in this arena. A large measure of the work is also educational - with Masters level courses offered to Healthcare leaders. Svante’s background as a physician and hospital administrator allows him bring practice and scholarship together. The education is designed to help these specialists think beyond technical excellence and toward greater systems alignment. That this all happening with strong government support in Sweden, one of the world's most advanced countries in terms of quality of life, women's activity in society and with little healthcare disparity across social and ethnic lines. Doesn’t that make us silently wonder if it's even relevant to other countries whose deep struggles with healthcare are only increasing? In fact to write of there being so little healthcare disparity across class and ethnicities makes me wonder if Sweden is somehow in a parallel universe! Nonetheless there too people who are living so long and using costly therapies pose problems. Problems like these have not really been addressed by healthcare and it seems that a more behavioral, humanistic approach is well placed to address resource allocation in an ethical way –action researchers working with health care consumers to acknowledge our human fear of death and even greater fear of incapacitation in old, old age. What does the future portend for all of us?! But I digress – even as I encourage action researchers to consider study designs on these complex issues…”dying well, dying participatively,” anyone? Besides where best to pose the difficult questions than in places that resource intelligent systems approaches to change.
Like all good action researchers Svante takes a networking approach to learning among hospital leaders across nations and continents. This is important given our commitment to being in dialogue with our colleagues in the developing world. We are lucky to have Svante join us. We also look forward to some more health focused special issues in the future. Welcome Svante.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

From the Editor's desk: Students Against Nicotine

As I consider the papers of 9 (1), issues of inter-subjectivity leap to mind. By inter-subjectivity I mean the ways in which we as researchers interact, later I will use the word “commune,” with research subjects. Conventional research training prompts us to treat research subjects as passive, albeit, respected objects of data collection. Action research acknowledges the subjectivity of the research subjects, which in interaction with ourselves, becomes inter-subjective inquiry.  Our engagement as persons first and foremost allows for knowledge to be shared that otherwise might have gotten lost.
Consider the Tai Mendenhall, Peter Harper, Heather Stephenson, and G. Santo Haas paper, entitled: “The SANTA Project (Students Against Nicotine and Tobacco Addiction): Using community-based participatory research to reduce smoking in a high-risk young adult population.”  This is another excellent example of potential partnership between medical and action research approaches that together can tackle chronic illness or contributors to chronic illness as with the smoking cessation program described here.  Thus we see efforts at systems modification rather than solely disease modification.  Systems change starts, ironically, at the interpersonal level - by having ordinary citizens activated as co-producers of their own health.  Once again we see an integrative, inter-subjective and successful systems change.  One system at a time.

Read for yourself:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
Editor, ARJ
Oregon Health Sciences University

Saturday, May 7, 2011

From the Editors' desk: Hanson and Hanson on Welfare recipients

As I consider the papers of 9 (1), issues of inter-subjectivity leap to mind. By inter-subjectivity I mean the ways in which we as researchers interact, later I will use the word “commune,” with research subjects. Conventional research training prompts us to treat research subjects as passive, albeit, respected objects of data collection. Action research acknowledges the subjectivity of the research subjects, which in interaction with ourselves, becomes inter-subjective inquiry.  Our engagement as persons first and foremost allows for knowledge to be shared that otherwise might have gotten lost.
Consider: Cindy Hanson and Lori Hanson offer “Unpaid work and social policy: Engaging research with mothers on social assistance.” In the USA we might call it social welfare and be surprised the Canada too is also rationalizing benefits to the poor.  In fact, however, all industrialized countries seem to be doing this – even over the strikes of French workers.  Again, in that theme we see throughout the papers so far, taking an inter-subjective approach better humanizes those who are seen as passive recipients of charity.  The humanization allows a deeper understanding to emerge. We understand better why a work ethic is not so present when a woman may end up with less money when she gives up assistance to take a job, plus then is burdened by having to pay for child care that in most cases will not be the type of child care any of us would wish for our children. The authors remind us also that the concern for health and physical/material security is so much greater for mothers on assistance – a reminder that prompts compassion. Importantly this study also involved the participation of decision makers, so that the findings and insights were translated into positive impact.

Read for yourself:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
Editor, ARJ
Oregon Health Sciences University

Saturday, April 30, 2011

From the editors desk: Wamba on Critical Pedagogy

As I consider the papers of 9 (1), issues of inter-subjectivity leap to mind. By inter-subjectivity I mean the ways in which we as researchers interact, later I will use the word “commune,” with research subjects. Conventional research training prompts us to treat research subjects as passive, albeit, respected objects of data collection. Action research acknowledges the subjectivity of the research subjects, which in interaction with ourselves, becomes inter-subjective inquiry.  Our engagement as persons first and foremost allows for knol3edge to be shared that otherwise might have gotten lost.

Consider: Nathalis Guy Wamba’s “Research as critical pedagogy. Developing an alternative epistemology of practice: Teachers' action research as critical pedagogy” which really speaks to the educator in all of us. The author works from the premise that when we step into the classroom, we meet graduate students who have been disciplined by thousands upon thousands of hours in which they practiced the discipline of passively receiving whatever the teacher wished to bestow. That passive reception might have sometimes looked like resistance but it never looked like active co-creation of knowledge. Engaging our students as active partners is therefore difficult, but necessary. I am inspired to copy and paste a paragraph below from the ARJ Manifesto signed by dozens of leading action researchers around the planet. Profesor Wamba’s work exemplifies how to engage stakeholders traditionally excluded from being part of the research process. Interestingly we find them under our noses, in our very classrooms. Thus in a very different way this paper picks up the theme of the ( (1) issue to address how we might better commune with (rather than work on/give to) “othered” subjects.
At this time we are called to engage with unprecedented challenges that are inter-related and compounding; challenges such as poverty and injustice, climate change, globalization, the regulation of science and technology, the information and communication technology revolution, inequalities and fundamentalisms of all types. Conventional science and its conduct are part of these problems. Action researchers, therefore, are concerned with the conduct and application of research. We acknowledge the complexity of social phenomena and the non linearity of cause and effect and see that the best response to such complexity is to abandon the notion of understanding as a product of the enterprise of a lone researcher, and to engage local stakeholders, particularly those traditionally excluded from being part of the research process, in problem definition, research processes, interpretation of results, design for action, and evaluation of outcomes. In this way, we step beyond what has been labeled ‘applied research,’ into the democratization of research processes and program design, implementation strategies, and evaluation.

 From the ARJ Manifesto,

Read for yourself:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
Editor, ARJ
Oregon Health Sciences University

Saturday, April 23, 2011

From the editor's desk: Communing with research subjects by Debra Merskin

As I consider the papers of 9 (1), issues of inter-subjectivity leap to mind. By inter-subjectivity I mean the ways in which we as researchers interact, later I will use the word “commune,” with research subjects. Conventional research training prompts us to treat research subjects as passive, albeit, respected objects of data collection. Action research acknowledges the subjectivity of the research subjects, which in interaction with ourselves, becomes inter-subjective inquiry.  Our engagement as persons first and foremost allows for knowledge to be shared that otherwise might have gotten lost.

Consider  Debra Merkin’s “Hearing voices: The promise of participatory action research for animals.” This paper is remarkable for  how it pushes the limits out beyond the familiar “humans-only”  boundary normally used to determine who constitutes a research subject. The implications for all our work are quite thought-provoking.  Debra seeks to articulate a PAR approach that fully envisions those who are silent, most especially in inter-species studies. Her paper focuses mainly on participatory research with primates.  When I first sent this paper out for review, the reviewers included a colleague well known in the natural sciences. She responded, perhaps a tad huffily, that work with creatures so similar to humans (the warm and furry ones such as primates) really tells us too little about how to work with the ones who are very different, e.g., the worms or crocodiles.  I was not so sure. Now as I see the article in its finished form, I am in fact more sure than ever that the ideology of superiority that insists upon a strict boundary between human and other than human. When breached at all (and doing so with familiar mammals is as good as any place to start the breaching) is indeed so strong a re-sensitization that it can call into question how centrally we place ourselves and, more broadly, human interests in our inquiries. We may yet come to know that – as Debra quotes -  the universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not of objects to be exploited.  Therefore I see in Debra’s article a formal turning point for ARJ in expanding how we define research subjects.
Read for yourself:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.

Editor, ARJ

Oregon Health Sciences University


Saturday, April 16, 2011

From the editors' desk: A People That Time Forgot

At the intersection of action research and religion, western and eastern values, I got this note from my action research colleague Meghna, based in Bangladesh - it raises all sorts of tough questions, doesn't it...(an animator is an action researcher)...enjoy!  Hilary Bradbury-Huang, ARJ Editor
From the files - A People That Time Forgot: the Sanyasis of Taraganjby Meghna Guhathakurta

On 21st June 2006, I accompanied RIB researcher Mr. Dipen Sarker and Programme Officer Rana Sultana on a visit to the village of Sanyasis in Taraganj thana of Nilfamari district. This project sought to awaken the spirit of self-enquiry and development among a group of people called the Sanyasis who were devotees of the Lord Siva (Saivaites) and who sustained themselves through begging for alms (dakshina) not unlike the legendary Siva himself!
They were waiting for us with garlands and tilaks in hand. They welcomed us in traditional style with a decorated borondala containing rice, pradip, ( lamp) bananas and dhup (incense). They sang a song using the local folk rhythm of bhawaia and through jokar ( ululating). We were then led from one neighbourhood of the village to another withjokars and the sound of dhol (drums) accompanying us and wherever we went the borondala followed us and was laid to rest at our feet where we were ultimately seated in front of a large gathering of women, men and children. We were also told that many have not eaten until they had welcomed us. This was their tradition. When they gave us the garland of flowers they called it their daan (gift).
Once seated we were further "received" by three young children each with a dish of rice/daal and incense singing a song that was full of pathos.. The meaning was:
"Oh Mother do not cry for your lost child.

Look and see your child is being garlanded by so many people."
It was one of the strangest yet painful songs that I had ever heard being sung to welcome strangers in their midst!
We had barely started discussion under the "pandel" formed by sewing together different banners of workshops, when we were swamped by rain. We hurried and crowded together into a room, which was called "pathagar" which incidentally was built by BRAC for a library albeit in a community who did not know how to read and write! So it was used like a club where meetings were sometimes held. The discussion was continued there as much as possible amidst much din but them it gradually led to more singing all around.
Here are some of the fascinating things, which the community revealed about themselves.
Like the Lord Siva whom they adopted as their central deity, they were Sanyasis i.e. people who had renounced the world. As such they did not believe in any form of worldly possessions and hence did not believe in work or exchange to sustain themselves, hence their need to sustain themselves with dakshina. However in the absence of a supporting belief system in contemporary society, their act was looked upon more as begging. This was also critically looked at from women and men within the community as well. Their reason was that it was a painful way of sustenance which not only entailed physical exhaustion but also much humiliation ('soul murder'). Society gave them no value whatsoever. They were in a critical position of reevaluating their lives and yet had yet to incorporate a work culture in their day to day existence. This was a major challenge for the PAR practitioner.
Although the community sang as a whole in Sangkirtan, they did not sing for money or alms. They only used it for themselves and for their religion. Yet the tune and rhythm of their sangkirtans did not resemble the tune and rhythm we usually hear in kirtaans of the vaishnav cult. The words too differed. They spoke more of their pain and struggle than of other worldiness. Dipen mentioned that the first time he had entered the village he had met a man playing a flute beautifully. In his subsequent visit he had come across the same man who had given up his flute playing. He answered that he had no joy left in him.
Women married at a very early stage because like the Beday community they can go in search of alms only when accompanied by their husbands. Young girls were left behind. So in order to serve the community they were married off early. The village swarmed with children. Incidentally only three young girls were educated (upto class seven) in the whole community. One of these girls, Shobha Gir ( Gir is the common title), had become an internal animator. She said that her parents have agreed to educate her and her sister and she a Christian Missionary helped her with expensive books. BRAC had started a pre-primary school in one neighbourhood, and Dipen was in the process of starting a Kajoli Model ECLC in another neighbourhood. The Sanyasis had stated that they do not want their children to beg for their living like themselves. Youths of the village has already formed a Samiti and have started saving. They have asked Dipen to help them open a bank account in a nearby branch. This is the first bank account to be opened in the community!
Health is a serious problem as they mostly travel long distances by foot and proper nutrition is not guaranteed. To avoid expensive health treatment they fall easy prey to quacks. To meet expenses during crisis times, they have sold almost all the trees in their neighbourhood and homesteads. Many live in their own homestead land, and some live in land belonging to others.
There are four animators working in the village ( 3 men and one woman) and they have been able to get themselves accepted by the villagers after one month of initial suspicion that they were either missionaries or abductors! They have kept minute records of each meeting which I have asked them to copy and send so that we can extract more guidelines from them as how to proceed.
The challenge in this field is very distinctive from other Participatory Action Research ( PAR) related fields. Elsewhere the people already had professions albeit ones that were undervalued by society or had become redundant. Here it is the very concept of work or exchange (market), which needed to be addressed. Many women said that they made things like hand fans or sewed for themselves, but they had never thought of selling them for profit or as a form of earning. This will be a difficult terrain to cross, but an interesting one. PAR is helping them to address these issues, but I see that a certain amount of skill training and welfare (health especially) components may be needed as well as in the Harijans of Kushtia or Bedays of Lohajong.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

From the editors' desk: Making space in academia for action research

As a follow up to last week's "from the desk of the editors" on the issue of action researchers making space for our work in academia, my ARJ colleague, Davydd J. Greenwood, Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University offers the following:

"If I did not believe reform of higher education were possible, I already would have quit. I could have a lovely and relaxing life outside of academia after 41 years at Cornell. When I render a judgment on some of these issues, it is on the basis of 27 years of academic administrative experience at my university, nationally, and internationally. I know that no significant reform is going to take place until the current organizational model that exists in academia is changed. It was built on General Motors and U.S. Steel in the 1950’s . Such reforms are not going to be easy and it is by no means clear to me that most action researchers have either the ambition or ability to engage their institutions on this level. It is quite clear that AR cannot do this alone and needs to form a common cause with a process of re-invigorating the social sciences and humanities with a sense of purpose beyond scoring well in the rankings and with the daring needed to study large-scale system problems that reach beyond what we know how to do as yet.
Having followed the international processes of change in higher education for the past 15 years, I can only say that action research is notable for its invisibility. A good but quite conventional piece of social research by Richard Arum and Josipa Roska, Academically Adrift, has done more in a couple of months to catalyze the arguments about the future of higher education than anything we have contributed so far.
The problems here are about the strategy and substance of trying to reinvent higher education in a very hostile environment. It is a noble task. It remains to be seen if AR can or will play any role in this beyond modest local initiatives. The poor response to the request for papers on AR in higher education tells us something about our field at the moment."

 - Davydd

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Strike for Justice 2011 posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

It’s time for our good friend Brinton Lykes to lace up her bowling shoes and raise some money for the Martin Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights. The goals of the Martin Baro Fund, named in honor of the Jesuit priest and social psychologist who was murdered in El Salvador in 1989, are:

· "To support innovative grassroots projects that explore the power of the community to foster healing within individuals and communities that are trying to recover from experiences of institutional violence, repression, and social injustice.

· To promote education and critical awareness about the psychosocial consequences of structural violence, repression and social injustice on individuals and communities, while educating ourselves and the wider community about the community-based responses of grantees in their pursuit of social reparation and a more just and equitable world.

· To build collaborative relationships among the Fund, its grantees, and its contributors for mutual education and social change".

Projects supported this year include Aware Girls, a project to empower women and girls located in the Swat district of Pakistan, the continuation of a capacity building course titled Mental Health and Community Strength in Chiapas Mexico, the Healing the Hurt project and the Sustainable Alternatives for the Advancement of Mindanao in the Philippines, and a women asylum seekers project in Manchester, England.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

From the Editors' Desk: Is it that our sex lives are too good?!

 We'd intended this post to go up before the response from Davydd Greenwood.  Here's the From the Editor's Desk related to AR and Higher Education from Hilary:

"I have been pondering the apparent lack of engagement of action researchers in creating space inside academia for action research. It seems we do action research in spite of academic culture and don't much question this. Is this resignation or an intelligent re-focus of energies? The question is on my mind because in my own field of organization behavior, the academy of management gives an annual award around this time of year to the best action research paper. The award is given through the Organization Development and Change division. Being in a position to help decide who receives the award, it is noticeable how little competition there is. That is not to say that the quality is low, but that it is safe to suspect that action researchers in management don’t send their papers to the Academy of Management! At least not any more. In fact I don’t! My own most recent publication is in Leadership Quarterly, hardly a bastion of action research – though all my work informs and is informed by an action research experience (I promise!). If I look at my own motivations I see that I bifurcate my attention – academic publication is a way to “get stuff out there.” I have been socialized (programmed) to think that’s important. Maybe it is. My more energy-focused action research endeavors (keynotes, presentations, graduate education, writing for specials issues etc) is a way to be in conversation with my real colleagues, those actually working with practitioners in ways that make change. Nothing is more lovely than hearing from someone in a far flung part of the universe that ideas developed by me and colleagues have been picked up because they are useful. To make a difference is a longing of the human heart. Is getting published a longing of the human ego? I don’t know. To tell the truth, I no longer believe that academic publications are useful to anyone except the ones publishing them. So do I not also play my part in this quiet resignation that has settled over academics in the face of efficiency maximizing universities and ranking chasing pressure in the mainstream? Action research is misunderstood and ignored, except by those for whom it matters. And it matters to me that it matters to them. As I have written about in my essay "What is good action research," action research attracts relatively more 'multidimensional' people who seem less driven to perform to external measures. (My real theory is that action researchers have more interesting lives than their quietist colleagues and find their approbation away from traditional accountings -- better sex lives keep us busy too no doubt ;). But doesn't our widespread resignation also reflect the distance between the significant role that universities could play (they are still respected, despite the price gouging) and the self interestedly low horizons they have come to serve.

As editor I notice how many fewer responses to a call for papers on ‘developing contribution through action research dissertations’ there were when compared with those that came in to a call for healthcare related papers or the use of arts or theory building. The latter topic – theory building, suggests that it’s not that AR’ers aren’t interested in scholarship per se (not that I ever doubted it myself!). When discussing this observation with a colleague he responded, based on many years of experience, that too many action researchers are happier taking potshots at higher education than in doing any serious analysis. Many practitioners self-define as marginal to higher education or opponents of the “patriarchal”, “exploitative” institutional systems. We agreed that this may sound good – academia is a bit of a money making hussle (!), but simply stating so doesn’t change anything for the better. We are, after all, action researchers, isn’t more is expected of us? And is there really a point in claiming superiority over academic colleagues while leaving the academy untouched. The result is self-perpetuated marginality combined with a self-satisfied attitude.
So how to respond to this dilemma? Who is the community for even thinking about this with? Perhaps I am posing an unresolvable question, one unresolved in my heart. I see my CBPR colleagues at medical school perfectly happy to do their important work, ditto so many colleagues in education where AR is the norm, and ditto the sprawling NGO world where AR is alive and brilliant. If our readership of ARJ show so interest in “AR in higher education,” per se, then is publishing on the subject in our journal tantamount to burying the work? Given the reality of moribund social sciences (compared with the excitement and resources that flow to the harder sciences) should we just give up even imagining higher education as potentially emancipatory? This allows us save our energy to do what we can, using it simply as a conduit to where “real life” is lived, mainly outside academia. Rilke says to hold the unresolved questions in our hearts. But I invite your comments.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

From the editor's desk: The tacit nature of political knowledge

I was introducing the philosophy and practice of action research to a group of physicians recently. It was in the context of their leadership development program in which an action learning project is central. Whenever I first introduce AR I feel a philosophical tug - after all it is really only by understanding Western Philosophy of Science that we can understand the madness of the past century - whereby all knowledge generation has become the work of a professional elite in service to questions that this elite poses. Unsurprisingly this approach has not served humanity. But one doesn’t need to be philosophical to create the case for a transformative knowledge creation. Let’s be pragmatic: today we enjoy the rather startling statistic that 80% of organizational change efforts fail. They don't fail because they are not needed – notot overstate things but really…our healthcare systems no longer keep us healthy, our justice system is unjust, our financial system - even before it melted down - simply gave rise to a plutocracy... nope it's not that no change is needed. It is OVER AND AGAIN that change efforts are not participative or learning oriented. People, feeling steamrollered, make sure that change doesn't happen. Of course too many of us are change resistant to begin with. I would much prefer if when looking in a mirror I saw the body I had say 20 years ago, no change would be great! But I wouldn't be willing to give up the 20 years of experiences (and all those donuts, always organic!) that also transpired. We are at best ambivalent about change, so fearful perhaps of our inevitable end. So we multiply our normal human ambivalence by everyone else in the organization - not least the one's whose careers are to be threatened. And we realize - what a miracle that 20% of change efforts succeed! Perhaps it really does take a revolution, though I’d vote for action research as a transformative model of knowledge creation in lieu of the heroically slain on the streets of Tripoli today. Needless to say I am thrilled as well as fearful about the potential of the youth uprisings around the Middle East. If these mostly horribly misogynistic cultures can become even a tad more participative/inclusive, it will bode well indeed for all men women and children. No accident that Tunisia with its European levels of gender equality has led the way. But Saudi?! Saudi, where a woman can't even go outside without a male relative escorting her. Change is difficult and change is deeply political. Back to my classroom - I noticed among the physicians how tacit is my own reading of how to make political change. I can say one thing explicitly – if you want to see change, enjoin the change "champions." They are the ones who have that magical combination of being able and willing. It's tacit because I don't really want to stand there and explicitly describe how the men, and some women, in charge may be able but not willing, or willing but not able, or sometimes neither, when it comes to changing things toward a more positive direction (healthcare needs some positive momentum before we are all bankrupted!). Such things, i.e., specific names, are better left unsaid...YET maybe they have to be said. Interesting that the king of Saudi threw 35 billion of his personal money at ‘his’ problem of a potential uprising of all his deeply unhappy subjects. Lucky for him so many are illiterate and yes, the woman all stay home! Yet those in the know say the problems are structural, no amount of money will fix them. What they really mean is that the relatives of the king stand in the way of change. His relatives, more bluntly his sons and their off spring are in charge of everything. And one has a quite few sons when all your many, many wives can't go out alone and the general birth rate in Saudi is 9 children per woman (presumably per each out-of-her-mind-with-boredom--and-without-access to-family-planning-woman). To draw this to a close, politics, philosophy and pointed name calling is all entwined. The question is how to make the insights explicit while truly being participative and inclusive – not yielding to scapegoating. Not yielding to patriarchy!

Hilary Bradbury Huang

ARJ Editor,

Portlandia, OR.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Comments on the new book by Zachary Schrag, Ethical Imperialism A History of the IRB and Social Sciences, posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

You all remember Ronsencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet. “Peripheral to the main action, they stumbled onstage and off, neglected or despised by the main charactes and destined for a bad end” So they are described by Zachary Schrag in his recent book, Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, in which he likens their plight to that of the social sciences in the development of current human subjects review processes. In this volume Schrag traces the history of the IRB and the ways in which the social sciences have been increasingly brought under the control of these bodies without having had significant involvement in the process of creating them.

As Schrag points out, the IRB system was designed to address issues facing medical and behavioral sciences and based on four assumptions:

1. Researchers know more about their subjects’ condition than do the subjects themselves.

2. Researchers begin their work by spelling out detailed protocols explaining what hypotheses they will test and what procedures they will meploy to these those hypotheses.

3. Researchers perform experiments designed to alter subjects’ physical state or behavior, rather than simply gathering information through conversation, correspondence, and observation.

4. Researchers have an ethical duty not to harm their subjects.

But while these assumptions may apply to medical and some forms of psychological research, they don’t do a good job of recognizing and addressing the ethical issues facing researchers in other social science fields, and certainly don’t begin to respond to the ethical implications of action research where we acknowledge that our community partners know more about their experience than we do, where we co-generate meaningful research questions that may change as the process moves forward, and where we create knowledge together through a variety of methods.  We do agree about not causing harm, but don't impose this on our partners with the same patronizing attitude that seems to pervade much other human subjects research.

This week is the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics conference (where, by the way, this blog is going to be featured in a discussion of ways to use electronic media to teach ethics!) and Schrag will be visiting Cincinnati and meeting with members of our Action Research Center and other students and faculty colleagues. We’ll continue this discussion of his book together in next week’s post.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creating Social Space in Virtual Worlds - Megan Paxton Wuebker - Guest Blogger

Victor Friedman (right) and audience (correct date: 2.16.11)

Having Victor Friedman in class last week to discuss AR, and more specifically his concepts of space, was quite a treat. I’ve always found it fascinating to meet the authors of the ideas we are using to develop our own knowledge and opinions as we move through graduate school.  During our talk, Victor discussed the social construction of space and the differences between social and physical space.  He asked if the advent of social networking is creating a new type of space based on changes in the formation of social relationships.  This really got me thinking about social space, relationships, and the influence that social networks have had on my experience. 

Like many people, I have accounts on social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook.  Twitter is my social website of choice, where I can interact with others who have common interests, seek answers to questions, and provide support and motivation to my virtual and “real life” friends.  Within our online community, we have created a social space that exits within a virtual space.  But what is a virtual space?  How would Victor Friedman define a virtual space?  I think it would be more than a social space, but perhaps it’s not. 

Social space allows us to develop relationships.  According to Victor, social space is an individual’s generation of feelings and emotion, the externalization of which permits interactions with other individuals’ feelings and emotions.  This interaction amongst individuals allows for the development of relationships.  However, these relationships are typically formed in physical space.  Can virtual space be considered a physical space where individuals come together and form relationships?  While we all construct our Twitterverse social space, there is no aspect of physical space beyond a website or a phone application.  Is this enough to constitute a virtual space?  Or do our virtual relationships not move beyond social space?

The answers to all of these questions are something that I am still working on.  The concept of a virtual space is something that, as a social networker, I am very curious about.  Victor Friedman’s discussion of space poses more questions than answers.  I look forward to examining these questions as my inquiry into space evolves.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Looking Forward - Alan Wight




Saturday, February 12, 2011

From the editors desk. Action research is not like deboning a duck before roasting

I have always been interested in the kind of action research that lives in synergistic proximity to conventional research – the kind that makes important ideas actionable; the kind that is equally interested in outcomes as with inputs & validity.  I am thinking about this as I prepare a series of invited talks aimed at graduate students and their mentors on how to do action research.  When I think about how to start such a talk, I look for a compelling image. I still find most compelling the image/ story of smallpox eradication. The story contains all the important elements of action research. It starts by recognizing that that all the technical innovation in the world couldn’t make smallpox disappear. In fact the smallpox vaccine - a miracle of conventional science - was in existence well over 100 years before smallpox was vanquished. A full ten years after the vaccine was invented thousands upon thousands were still dying from smallpox. Then along came Dr. Henderson to head up the World Health Organization. He committed to a world free of smallpox and declared that the field workers who had first hand understanding of the obstacles must be listened to (itself a big organizational innovation)!  What the field workers then reported , over and over, was the primacy of socio-cultural obstacles to vaccination. For example, in parts of India it was seen as an insult to an important goddess to be vaccinated; clearly eternal rebirth in a bad life would be much worse than getting smallpox! Conventional research, ensconced in its paradigm of techno-rationality, simply can’t respond to the mother who’d prefer not to offend a goddess.  Or more precisely,  the response that emerges from the conventional research paradigm, can’t be either effective or respectful to that mother. So is it still science when you recognize social barriers as being as important as technical ones?  Was Henderson an action researcher? I answer yes. In the field of AR we’ve been saying that integrative approaches to knowledge have both a social and technical component.  Concentrating only on the latter means overlooking how to have impact or expecting that good ideas, or good technique will simply magically be adopted. I call it the awareness fallacy – as if awareness of information changes things. Certainly it does for some – usually the educated middle class when sober and judicious. In other words, it doesn’t hold true for most – otherwise we’d all be slim trim and fabulous. So the world needs a science of action that overcomes systematic barriers to desired change.  It is, necessarily, a reflexive science. Its measures of success are farther ranging than ‘merely’ proving itself right.  This science, action science, must, however, prove itself useful and contribute to ongoing efforts in social and organizational change. What I am describing is the need to open up our definitions and practices and to be rigorous despite ‘non-standard’ work. The analogy of cooking comes to mind.  Not so very long ago –certainly in our parents generation - one still heard the declaration that “real” cooking can only happen if it follows French Cordon Bleu techniques so rigorous as to require study for years in Paris. Cooking was the domain of the professionals.  Yes, you simply have to debone that duck before you roast it! And what of everyday cooking? Wasn’t there a place outside the professional guild?  Indeed it turns out that some thought so. Some being quite non-mainstream (those vegetarians!), some who liked nouvelle cuisine (even the original guild members innovated when pushed!). And today we even have the miracle of pacific rim fusion (my personal favorite, yum yum!).  In science too – we have moved beyond the professional gatekeepers. We do so with seriousness of pursuit and dedication to outcomes. Because we need more than one type of science. Besides who wants to eat deboned duck!
Warm regards,
Hilary Bradbury-Huang
Editor, ARJ

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From the editors' desk...

Picking up the admittedly slim thread from last weeks' ruminations - I have since googled around on the issue of journal rejection rates.  In this I happened across the "journal of universal rejection." Let me share what I think may inform the action research community. Unlike with that journal, at least your comments on this topic will be accepted HERE ;)

About the Journal

The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected. Despite that apparent drawback, here are a number of reasons you may choose to submit to the JofUR:

You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.

There are no page-fees.

You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).

The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.

You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.

Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission.

The JofUR solicits any and all types of manuscript: poetry, prose, visual art, and research articles. You name it, we take it, and reject it. Your manuscript may be formatted however you wish. Frankly, we don't care.

After submitting your work, the decision process varies. Often the Editor-in-Chief will reject your work out-of-hand, without even reading it! However, he might read it. Probably he'll skim. At other times your manuscript may be sent to anonymous referees. Unless they are the Editor-in-Chief's wife or graduate school buddies, it is unlikely that the referees will even understand what is going on. Rejection will follow as swiftly as a bird dropping from a great height after being struck by a stone. At other times, rejection may languish like your email buried in the Editor-in-Chief's inbox. But it will come, swift or slow, as surely as death. Rejection.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

From the Editors' desk: Creative tension between developmental reviews and the culture of rejections

So the conventional status quo goes something like this: the higher a rejection rate at a journal, the more exclusive it will appear.  If more exclusive, the perception of its value will increase.

And the conventional action research logic goes something like: the more developmental a review reviewers give, the better the final manuscript will end up and the more likely it will be to move toward publication.

There is a creative tension here - or at least a conundrum. Action research culture promotes higher lower rejection rates. The action research community wishes to be seen as valuable in the broader discourse on research and wants/needs a journal to given that impetus voice.

How to resolve this tension/conundrum/paradox?!

At least a few issues come immediately to mind:

The more "high value" a journal the more helpful it is to those who publish in it in terms of their careers (especially if they are in academia)

The more high value a journal appears in conventional terms, the better it is in creating a bridge to conventional rsearchers.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why art? with guest blogger Victor Friedman

Why do I feel passionate about art and action research?  I have no  talent.  Drawing and painting never appealed to me.  I love to sing but cannot carry a tune.  My tuba teacher suggested that I join the swim team instead of the marching band.   Visits to art museums were  alienating  because I, quite literally  had no “taste” for art.  The turning point came a number of years ago when Ariane decided to pursue her passion for art into research on artistic interventions in organizations.  We had collaborated for years and wanted to continue working together. But I had no genuine interest in art or aesthetics, which seemed to me my weakest part.  But then I realized it might be a learning opportunity.  Ariane took me to museums and helped me communicate with art for the first time.  Rather than simply looking at pictures, I learned to wander and wait until a picture spoke to me.  And I tried to listen to feelings and thoughts it awakened in me  – to “taste” it.  That was a beginning and has led to many new discoveries.  I also began to realize how, in modern society,  we have taken artistic-creative-aesthetic activity out of our everyday life. So I like to play with bringing it back in.  For example, I put colored modeling clay on the table in my office and encouraged anyone who came to meet to start playing.  At first most people made figures, but then some students they started actually decorating the table. I then invited encouraged everyone to add to the emerging design.  One picture here shows the table in progress, the other shows the table complete.  And check out this website on the work of Jackson Pollock.  Have fun!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

From the Editors' desk: Action research and Community Based Participatory Research

Multiple choice question:

What is the relationship between Action Research and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)?


A. The terms refer to the same phenomenon

B. CBPR exists only in the healthcare domain

C. Both are forms of participatory research

D. Enough with the definitions already - do something useful with your community stakeholders!

E. All answers are correct and the relationship needs to be unpacked depending on which community you find yourself in.

I'll go with E.
The question posed itself as I was recently invited to bring more about "action research" to audiences in various healthcare communities. I revisited Minkler's and Wallerstein's edited handbook--which is really excellent--called "Community Based Participatory Research for Health" (Jossey Bass, 2003). It therefore seems fair to me to say that CBPR comes under the larger umbrella term “action research,” but that as it is a term used primarily in healthcare settings, a world unto itself, there may be little familiarity with the umbrella term “action research”! The term "participatory research” may, in fact, be more useful when suggesting that there is a bigger family outside healthcare which can inform CBPR. CBPR, like in much AR, maintains strong philosophical links with the liberationist aspirations articulated by thought leaders of old such as Paolo Freire and Orlando Fals-Borda. In this we all share concern for fighting health disparities, both within countries (in the USA, the disparity between races is striking) and globally (that so many still die from preventable illness worldwide is a crying shame). However, like in action research, there is also an uncritical, sometimes wholly technical-practical approach that comes to the fore. We see this in (some) organizational development work that calls itself action research (not in mine I hope!). In healthcare settings we see it when the behavioral aspects of illness (say in treating chronic conditions such as diabetes) make it clear that socio-behavioral change is needed as much, if not more, than medical intervention. It is less about liberating patients to understand the structures that keep them unwell and more about making sure insulin is managed with family support. And that is important too.
In the end then for an action researcher to work productively in a healthcare setting may simply be a matter of becoming acculturated to new vocabulary (e.g., I have learned in my new position as a research professor in healthcare management that “inter-professional teams” is code for doctors and nurses working together. It deserves its own word as its an issue of great importance but without much institutional support to date). But in the end its still about stakeholder needs and moving to action with stakeholders, generating rich locally actionable knowledge that can also inform policy and larger community of action researchers.

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
Editor, Action Research journal.
Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arts and Action Research Special Issue Reflection by guest blogger Ariane Berthoin Antal

Doorhandle to the Seeburg of the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz.
Opening the door to work each day with such a joker has to lead to something new, doesn't it? 

I first "met" the authors in the special issue of ARJ on the arts and action research in January 2010 when we had the challenge of selecting a few articles from the many submissions we received to our call for papers, submissions from all around the world. It was exciting and also humbling to discover how many exciting projects colleagues are experimenting in to enable learning and change to happen in organizations and in society.
Ariane at a picnic on Lake Konstanz

Choosing just a few articles to take into the journal was difficult! Then the real pleasure started: working with our authors via emails to develop their ideas even further. Editing this special issue for ARJ turned into a year-long journey of discovery, what happens in societies when we dare to engage issues by drawing on the arts? And what happens to action researchers when participants in their projects engage artists and artistic media? How can we learn to express the multiple forms of knowing--and not knowing--that arise from these engagements? Now in January 2011 I am really looking forward to responses from readers!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

From the editors desk: New Years Resolutions

New Years bring new resolutions. My own vis a vis ARJ is to make more mental space for strategic intuition and action taking.

First and foremost on my mind is therefore to consider how to locate the perfect person/small team to lead the Action Research for healthcare division. We are currently without leadership in that arena. My filling in (someone has to!) has made me more aware of the growing importance of this domain and how much more impact the AR modality deserves to have. Healthcare costs are escalating as the population in the Western world ages. It is the hot topic of hot dispute in the US legislature this week again. A partial vision in this arena is to have the action research (often called “community based participative research”) community become more better known for its significant contributions. This is both difficult – medicine is primed to admire the gold standard double blind tests of validity which action research does not do. However medicine and its practitioners are some of the more pragmatic around. We must understand that the world of healthcare is only partly benefited by validity seeking tests. So many other areas need emphasis on behavior change and behavioral approaches to healthcare. It is with the latter that action research can work most productively.

For now we must “beat the bushes” for nominations including self nominations. We will use snowball methods to generate recommendations. We may ponder:

• what credentials a future associate editor for AR and healthcare should hold – one or a combination of: MPH, PhD? MD?.

• Which communities are best brought together in our efforts here…and how can we bring more attention to the action research work of the Southern Hemisphere.

All of this is on my mind as we start up the year…