My name is Takayoshi Kusago, professor in Social System Design, Faculty of Sociology, Kansai University, Japan. I teach fieldwork method and action research at the university. Action research does require collaboration among researchers and practitioners – similar to empowerment evaluation. Here I would like to share tips for those who are interested in action-oriented research.
Hot Tip: Action research is not a pure scientific research which aims at theorizing something or finding some evidence to support existing theories. Rather, it aims at contributing to improve well-beings of the people engaged in some form of social action. This is easy to say but not easy to do. Researchers, especially those who are in the academia, tend to prioritize publication as outcome– journal papers or books. This priority making may not fit well with the priority order made by practitioners. To avoid such differences in priority-setting, it is critical to have constant communication among the team members, including both researchers and practitioners. I always place high on “listening skills” to establish good communication. If you think you talk first than others, please start changing your manner from talking first to listening first. Eventually, team-based priority order could be made over time.
Rad Resource: I carry a digital video-camera and a IC-recorder for record purpose as well as for team building. Pictures, videos and digital recordings are easily shared among members and others. For team meetings, video-conferencing by Skype saves time and money, which is a powerful tool, too.
Rad Resource: KJ-method. KJ-method is developed by Jiro Kawakita, a Japanese anthropologist in the 1960s and 1970s for data analysis. I use this method for group-based work to clarify project objectives, potentials, hardships, and others. This exercise helps the team to find out the key problems and issues of the concerned action. Here is a link for more information on Jiro Kawakita and the KJ-method: http://bit.ly/Kawakita