Published: August 2023
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Published: August 2023

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Published: August 2023
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6" x 9"
Language: English

2024 SPE Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention

The idea of the doctorate is undergoing a transformation as experts explore the nature of “doctorateness” and its relevance for current organizational and societal challenges. The professional practice doctorate has emerged as a highly useful framework to address these challenges and it necessarily requires a distinctive approach to the doctoral dissertation.

The Action Research Dissertation: Learning from Leading Change shares a framework for the action research dissertation, outlining the specific ways in which action research fosters the development of scholar-leaders. It offers both doctoral students who are practitioners in applied fields, and the faculty who guide them in their doctoral research, a comprehensive and applied approach to action research that focuses on facilitating and leading change in organizations, as well as ways to address how to translate the findings of this work into a rigorous, dissertation research study.

Throughout the book, the authors explicitly address the connection between the parallel and mutually-reinforcing processes of taking action and conducting research, offering rich insights, tools, and case examples that outline specifically how to use action research to both guide a change effort and generate useful insights to contribute to theory-building.

This is an essential book for a variety of readers, including professional practice doctoral students, faculty directing the studies of those students, program administrators, professional development coordinators, and many others.

Perfect for courses such as: Introduction to Action Research, Action Research, Applied Research, Qualitative Research, Mixed Methods Research, and Case Study Research

Table of Contents:

Part 1—Laying the Foundation

1: Beginning Your Action Research Journey

2: The Nature of Action Research for Changing Systems

3: The Scholar-Leader—Leading Change in Action Research

Part 2—Scaffolding the Study

4: Developing the Theoretical Framework

5: Intervention in Action Research

6: Evidencing the Action Research Problem

7: Designing Action Research Studies

8: Facilitating the Action Research Team

Part 3—Securing the Study

9: Telling the Action Research Story

10: Ethical Standards and Dilemmas in Action Research

11: Common Challenges in Action Research

12: Concluding our Action Research Journey

Appendix A - The University of Georgia Action Research Doctorate

Appendix B - Sample Action Research Dissertation Abstracts

About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:

“Watkins, Nicolaides, and Gilbertson offer a refreshing and accessible take on the history, theory, and practice of action research. They excel at the difficult balancing act that many action researchers experience – successfully weaving reflection, action, and theory to provide a praxis-informed account. This is not only grounded in the authors’ years of experience in organization action research, but in the evidence they have systematically reflected on and analyzed from their EdD program. This book The Action Research Dissertation: Learning from Leading Change provides the necessary building blocks for any doctoral student or emerging action researcher interested in making a transformative change in their organization.”

Giovanni Dazzo, co-author of "Critical Participatory Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Introduction and Guide." Assistant Professor, Mary Frances Early College of Education, University of Georgia

“Based on a decade of innovative development and reflective refinement, Watkins, Gilbertson, and Nicolaides provide an essential guide to a much-needed contemporary action research dissertation process that ambitiously engages doctoral students in leading change while conducting relevant research. The work The Action Research Dissertation: Learning from Leading Change as presented is grounded in principles of purpose, mutuality, and rigorous integrity but is also highly practical and problem-based. It offers rich examples to navigate the challenges of using such an approach. Through this process, students document impactful results of learning and change at the individual, group, and system levels. Foremost is the learning we hope for through doctoral education—that of scholar-leaders propelled beyond their study to create change and knowledge in many contexts.”

Lorilee R. Sandmann, Professor Emerita, University of Georgia

“Karen Watkins, Aliki Nicolaides and Erica Gilbertson provide guidance for conducting Action Research that is both academically based and very readable in terms of practice. The book The Action Research Dissertation: Learning from Leading Change is relevant for doctoral students (particularly students in professional practice doctoral programs) and practitioners in organizations in need of addressing real world problems. It builds on both the classic literature on action research and learning integrated into the contemporary literature relevant to the process. This book begins with a thorough description of the foundations of action research and then presents the specific components of initiating and conducting the process. Their focus is on using theory effectively. In doing so it presents specific practices for each step in the process in a way that offers very specific ways of addressing the complexity of conducting action research in today’s world of rapid change that is occurring while the research is being conducted. This includes practices through which participants in the research assess the type of challenges they are studying and learning from each other’s perspectives. The authors draw on both individual, team and organizational learning theory and other academic frameworks integrating them into leading and participating in the research process. They take the reader through the process step by step in each chapter, beginning with choosing and recruiting participants for the action learning team, bringing the team together, managing the team through critical and challenging aspects of the process, addressing ethical and validity issues and how to effectively present their findings from the research. Examples used throughout the book are from a range of institutional settings, business, education, health care and others. This book brings action research into the current time of the 21st century for learning through inquiry in times of continuous change. It is about leading through effective inquiry.”

Lyle Yorks, Professor Emeritus, Adult Learning & Leadership Program, Teachers College, Columbia University

“Watkins, Gilbertson, and Nicolaides give us a practical and resource-rich approach suited to action researchers entering the field.”

Hilary Bradbury, Ph.D., editor in chief, Action Research journal and curator, Foundation AR+