Action Research 2: Different Roles of the Researcher

Being an action researcher is not easy, and I even overheard a very well known British researcher claiming that it is far too difficult to be something you do during your PhD studies. And I can admit that I have seen many PhD students who think that the task i too demanding and requires too much. I have so far been very lucky and both my PhD students cope with action research brilliantly.  But I know for sure that it is not an easy task to write your PhD in action research projects!

Professional Competence in the Area of the Project. Action research requires that the researcher both has the professional competence to work in the area of the project, such as development of IT in organisations, and can handle the complexities and conflicts of real software development projects. In this you are required to take all possible roles imaginable such as: The driver of change, the listener, the student who learns new things, the teacher, the organiser, “the bad cop and the good cop”, the one who says NO or the creative solution finder. Change projects often cause turbulence, and ICT projects far too often fail so this is not an easy job.

Research Competence. The researcher also needs to be a skilled researcher and be able to set up, carry through and write up research from the projects in parallell to the work. This includes knowledge of theory and methods related to the area of study, and also knowledge about where to publish and disseminate knowledge.

Time Management. One of the most challenging aspect of action research is the time management of the researcher. There is always more to be done in the project where you do your research, and there is always more to be done when it comes to analysing, writing and reading in the area of your research. Here it is imperative that the researcher finds the time to do the writing up of the studies, and see to it that this is not postponed due to more pressing matters on the agenda.

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