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Action research is performed to identify solutions for a problem, or it can be a progressive process of problem-solving with a focus on reflection.

Action research can also be a part of a community of practice designed to identify issues and develop proactive solutions. Action research aims 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 the research enterprise, which differentiates action research from traditional research that takes a distant research setting approach.

Action researchers strive to study the current actions that play a critical role in any setting. This article will help introduce action research for a dissertation – the do’s and don’ts to research students so they can kickstart their action research promptly.

Struggling to get going with your dissertation? Here is an article on "How to write a dissertation - Step by step guide."

Definition of Action Research

Action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining their actions.

Students who are required to perform action research find the process of action research extremely powerful. One of the foremost benefits of action research is that it is always relevant to the participants.

The principal consumers of any action research projects' findings are the researchers themselves, and so relevance is guaranteed every time.

The Process of Action Research

Action research in education can be performed by the entire school faculty, by a group of participants who share common interests, or by an individual. Regardless of who participates in educational action research, the process of action research includes the following seven stages;

Advantages and Disadvantages

It is important to understand how to perform action research in education settings to establish its advantages and disadvantages. One of the key advantages of action research is that it helps researchers increase their knowledge through experience.

The action research cycle can be a learning cycle with a focus on systematic reflection to have an effective ability to learn.  Action research is participative in nature and helps to understand researchers and the participants of any study.

Students can find it worthwhile to mention a dissertation in their resume that directly relates to this 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 learn to employ the action research methodology to complete their dissertation papers with action research. Another disadvantage is that the library work for action research is demanding as the data and its interpretation define the literature.

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The Do’s and Don’ts

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.

The first step is to write a winning proposal to establish your research problem and decide on the research's approach and direction.

Action research problems play a critical role in driving the research to a level equal to or greater than existing literature. 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 are important in the context of research as they identify the implications of such questions in the real world.

Action research questions could emerge by researching a setting where students have relationships when they ask what research questions should be explored to address and identify the social, political, and ethical dilemmas of asking such questions.

Similarly, students can conduct action research in external settings by identifying problems and developing relationships to undertake a comprehensive study. It is important to have an idea of primary research and secondary research when writing an action-based 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 dissertation topic and the nature of the students' action research. The best approach is to identify these approaches at an earlier stage so they can be used to address the questions.

Moreover, students need to identify the data that needs to be explored to develop the questions. Typically, an action research dissertation involves analysing data in which patterns, insights, and new understandings are identified.

The meaning of these patterns and insights is clearly explained 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 based on ground realities while it can also be useful for local participants.


This article aims to help students gain knowledge about action Research for the dissertation – the dos 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 reflection and learning process for students.

One of the strengths of action research is that it enables the researcher to participate in the research process directly. Moreover, researchers can obtain knowledge that is based on ground realities.

The process of writing an action research dissertation is different as compared to conventional research. Students are recommended to read as much as possible about action research before undertaking it since it can be a difficult process.

Also Read: What Are the Different Research Methods for Dissertation?

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Alvin Nicolas

Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.

Alvin Nicolas
Alvin Nicolas
Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.
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