Themes, iteration and recoverability in action research

Holwell, Sue (2004). Themes, iteration and recoverability in action research. In: Kaplan, B; Truex, D.P; Wastell, D; Wood-Harper, A.T and DeGross, J.I eds. Information Systems Research: Relevant Theory and Informed Practice. Boston, USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.



This paper develops three concepts important to the practice of action research recoverability, research themes, and iteration by highlighting their applicability beyond single action research studies. The concepts are discussed against a program of action research, undertaken by a multidisciplinary research team, with a research focus on local, sector and national evels. This contrasts with the more usual pattern of action research in single situations. Action research is criticized on the grounds that it lacks generalizability and external validity from one-off studies. Goodness criteria have been derived to address these and other criticisms. The recoverability criterion, less strong than the repeatability of experimentation, is central to these. A second concept, that of research themes, links the recoverability criterion and iteration in action research. Iteration within and between projects and the notion of critical mass, of doing work in more than one setting, address the limitations of single setting studies.

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