Action Research - Concept

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MS Surg

May 22, 2002


Action research as defined by Cohen and Manion

"small scale intervention in the functioning of the real world and a close examination of the effects of such intervention."


Action research is situational -

it is concerned with diagnosing a problem in a specific context and attempting to solve it in that context.


Action research is

- usually (though not inevitably) collaborative teams of researchers and practitioners work together on a project.

- participatory - team members themselves take part directly or indirectly by implementing the research.


Action research is self-evaluative

- modifications are continually evaluated within the ongoing situation, the ultimate objective being to improve practice in some way or another.


While experimental research is concerned mainly with establishing relationships and testing theories, action research has as a focus a specific problem in a specific setting.

It makes no attempt to identify one particular factor and study it in isolation divorced from the context giving it meaning.


As Margules points out,

"in combining action processes (planning, implementation, and evaluation) with research processes (problem identification, hypothesis formation, and testing),

the result is a sequence of steps and activities that identify the relevant events that must happen in the initiation and implementation of change."


The essential steps in action research are the following:

1. Analysis of the problems

2. Research designs on how to solve the problems

3. Implementation of action plan

4. Evaluation of results of implementation



1. Cohen L, Manion L: Research Methods in Education. London, Croom Helm, 1980.

2. Marguiles N: Managing change in health care organization. Medical Care 15:693-704, 1977.