Balancing research and action in turbulent times: action research as a tool for change

Ruth Deery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Action research is now reported globally and is carried out in a variety of contexts to incorporate a range of professions including midwifery. It is impossible to describe a one-dimensional approach because there are such diverse sources that inspire action researchers. Given that the purpose of action research is to engage in a dynamic relationship with constantly changing situations, it is appropriate that a ‘one size fits all’ is not achievable. This is pertinent to midwifery where action research can usefully respond to the complexities of clinical practice and to do that in a way that is true to the philosophies underlying practice.
It is not the intention of this paper to explore definitions and theory of action research. Rather the aim is to engage with the process of, and methods within, action research that can enable the participation and collaboration of midwives. Some of the tensions and challenges involved in the action research process and how they might be overcome (or not) are illuminated. In particular, the paper focuses on the challenges of facilitating practitioner participation/engagement at various stages of the research process. The insights of the paper are illustrated by means of data extracts and examples from two action research studies that were both undertaken on different sites in northern England by the author; one project explored midwives’ support needs and the other facilitated further development of a midwife-led unit
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalEvidence-based midwifery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2011


  • Action research
  • methodology
  • participation
  • collaboration
  • evidence-based midwifery


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