Action research as a methodology is not good in all situations, and there are a few disadvantages with the approach as I see it.
- Few know what it is, especially in areas such as medicine. This can cause som confusion, and you have to explain the foundations of the approach. Often this is met with some scepticism, though, and people wonder about the objectivity of your research when you are doing research together with people in a project instead of on people in a project.
- Too close to consulting. Another disadvantage that I have run into is that sometimes being an action researcher is a bit too close to the consulting business.
- Difficulties planning the research is at least an obvious disadvantage in any IT related research as IT project seldom follow a given time plan (or perhaps any plan :-P.
- Time consuming. Participating in meetings and being a part of a change process takes time, and you need to find a good balance between this and the writing and analysing of data.
Despite these “disadvantages” I really appreciate being an action researcher, and for me the interesting research questions are closely connected to trying to improve practice.
If you want to know more about action research there are many books and papers on the topic. I especially like this one: Action and Interactive Research: Beyond practice and Theory, Shaker Publishing, 2006.