So what are the advantages of working with action research? Well, action research can be a good choice if you are interested in research questions that are related to change and you want to understand change without being a fly on the wall but be a part of the change process. Kurt Levin is said to the the father of action research, and he said:
“If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.”
I also think that action research on for example the launch of medical records online in Sweden (through the Dome consortium) is more ethical than taking the “fly on the wall” approach where you observe what happens without affecting it. During the first years of the Dome project when we had funding from Vinnova we were very actively engaged in the development and launch of the system, trying to launch research studies that would make us better understand the effects of the system. One such example was the launch of a study on cancer patients and how they reacted to the system since this was a pressing issue for health care professionals. We hence tried to be more agile than most researcher are and adapt our studies to the needs of the project.
For me one advantage with action research is that I am motivated by trying to make a difference, and to make things better. One example of this is the Ladok project, or the KiA project that we had with Uppsala University. In these research projects we work closely together with skilled practitioners trying to figure out how to launch ICT in organisations with a focus on creating a good work environment where people can work efficiently and make use of their competence through a new ICT system.
I have also been the practitioner working with researchers regarding gender equality in academia. Here I have very much experienced the advantages, and I have had the opportunity to work closely with gender equality specialists who support and scaffold our attempts to create a better work environment for all with a gender perspective. Nina Almgren has acted as my personal coach when it comes to working with gender equality, and through her I have learned extremely much.