Action Research for my Dissertation – The Do’s and the Don’ts

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Action Research for my Dissertation – The Do’s and the Don’ts


Action research is done with the intent to identify solutions for problems or it can be a progressive process of problem solving with the focus on the reflective process. Action research can also be part of community of practice that is designed to identify issues and develop proactive solutions. The aim of action research is to develop appropriate guidelines that can be considered to be best practices in any discipline. The researcher pursues an active strategy of participating in the change situation while conducting research. Action is important for research enterprise which differentiates action research from traditional research that takes a distant approach towards research settings. Action researchers strive to study the current actions that play a critical role in any setting. This article will help introduce action research for my dissertation – the do’s and don’ts to research students.

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Advantages and Disadvantages

It is important to understand how to perform action research, and its advantages and disadvantages in order to impress your supervisor and audience. Action research is beneficial because it helps researchers to increase their knowledge through experience. The action research cycle can be a learning cycle with the focus on systematic reflection so that students have an effective ability to learn.  Action research is participative in nature which is beneficial since it helps to create an understanding between researchers and the participants of any study (Stringer, 2013).

Finally, students can find it worthwhile to mention a dissertation in their resume that has direct relevance to practice.  There are some disadvantages to this type of research such as the fact that a conventional format cannot be used to write the dissertation. Students will have to acquire new skills to complete their dissertation papers with action research. Another disadvantage is that the library work for action research is demanding as the literature is defined by the data that is collected and the researcher’s interpretation of it.

The Do’s and Don’ts

The process of “how to write a dissertation needs to be understood before writing the paper. Make yourself familiar with the complexities and requirements of action research before conducting the study. This will help you in preparing the introduction to the dissertation. It should be noted that the first step is writing a proposal to identify the initial problem and to discuss the approach and direction of the research. Problems in action research play a critical role in driving the research to an equal or greater extent than the literature (Herr & Anderson, 2014). A good action research dissertation is data driven rather than being theory driven.

Selecting the action research questions is critical from the perspective of the researcher. These questions start from the students as they identify the implications of such questions in the context of the real world.  Action research questions could emerge by conducting research in a setting where students have relationships. The students should ask what research questions they want to address and identify the social, political, and ethical dilemmas associated with asking such questions.

Similarly, students can conduct action research in external settings by identifying problems and developing relationships in order to undertake a comprehensive study (Kemmis et al, 2014). It is important to have an idea about what is primary research. Additionally, what is secondary research is an important question in the context of writing their dissertation.   The research methodology for action research is not specific as the methods are context bound. Moreover, the methods can be changed according to the nature of the problems that are present in the context. There are no unique methodological characteristics of action research.

The types of research strategies selected will depend on the topic and the nature of the action research undertaken by the students. The best approach is to identify these approaches at an earlier date so that they can be used to address the questions. Moreover, it is important for students to identify the data that needs to be learned in order to develop the questions.  A post graduate dissertation research methodology should be utilized in accordance with the standards of the university.  Students should be able to know how to write the methodology of dissertation in order to complete the action research study (Munn & Winter, 2013). Typically, action research dissertation involves analysis of data in which patterns, insights, and new understandings are identified. The meaning of these patterns and insights is done in order to ensure that high levels of reliability and validity can be maintained. A key approach in action research dissertations should be to identify limitations and use them as an advantage. This provides the ability to produce knowledge that is based on ground realities while it can also be useful for local participants.


This article aims to help students to gain knowledge about action Research for dissertation – the do’s and the don’ts. It will help them to use a systematic approach towards writing action research dissertations.  Action research is an important approach towards resolving research problems and initiating a continuous process of reflection and learning for students. The strengths of action research are that it enables the researcher to directly participate in the research process. Moreover, the researchers are able to obtain knowledge that is based on ground realities. The process of writing an action research dissertation is different as compared with conventional research. Students must be able to learn about action research before undertaking it since it can be a difficult process. However, it is through planning and preparation that long term success can be attained for students.

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  • Herr, K. and Anderson, G.L., 2014. The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Sage publications.
  • Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R. and Nixon, R., 2014. Introducing Critical Participatory Action Research. In The Action Research Planner (pp. 1-31). Springer Singapore.
  • Munn-Giddings, C. and Winter, R., 2013. A handbook for action research in health and social care. Routledge.
  • Stringer, E.T., 2013. Action research. Sage Publications.

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