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Action research international

How the journal operates




The material technology

The review process

The style


At this stage, we think of Action research international as depending upon three important pieces of technology.

The first is what one would usually mean by "technology": the material technology.  The others are just as important: they consist of the social technologies which will do much to make the journal whatever it becomes.The review process.  It is peer review; unlike most peer review it is public and non-adversarial.  The style of interaction makes this achievable.  Our intention is that it is both honest and supportive.

We might label all of this "under construction".  The material technology of the internet is developing so rapidly that it is still quite unstable and immature.  Partly for this reason, we depend primarily on email, by now a reasonably stable technology.  (We have other reasons too.)  We expect great changes over the next decade or two.

The social technologies, too, can be expected to change.  In the spirit of action research we intend to research our own practice. What we have now is a convenient starting point.  If it is the same in 12 months, we probably are not practising what we preach.

In more detail...

The material technology

At the heart of the material technology are two electronic mailing lists.  They might be thought of as an "outer" discussion list and an "inner" archive.

The outer list is in effect a learning community.  It comprises author(s) of a paper, editorial panel and subscribers.  The draft paper is the topic of discussion.  The inner list forms the refereed journal: when papers are accepted for publication they move to the inner list.  In addition to being held as text files, they are also stored in hypertext as web pages.  This allows the addition of graphics and perhaps other media.  From time to time, a hard copy issue of the journal will also be published.

The use of mailing lists and email was a deliberate choice.  As well as being a more mature technology, they are also more accessible to some people.  For those with slow modems or noisy telephone lines (and there are still many) web technology is either out of reach, or too fragile or time-consuming or costly. The hypertext version provides ready accessibility for those with good connections and web browsers.

We expect that, as the material technology matures, the increase in email sophistication which some of us enjoy will be available to all.

The review process

Properly speaking, the review process is two processes.  A discussion takes place on the outer list between author(s), journal subscribers and editorial panel.

We are fortunate that the editorial panel includes people from several different action research traditions, several different nations, and many different disciplines.  We expect the subscribers to be an even more diverse group of people.  The discussion can therefore be a mutual inquiry, and so at the same time a mutual education.

The editorial process is simple.  There are no appointed reviewers for a paper.  Authors are invited to nominate panel members whom they would like to comment, but the panel members may decline.  Any panel member of subscriber may offer comment.  When a "quorum" of the editorial panel have identified a paper as relevant and of high quality, the paper moves to the inner list.  It becomes "published".

As mentioned above, we will research this process.  We will improve it in the light of our experience.

The success of such a process is likely to depend upon the style of interaction.

The style

The editorial panel were selected by action researchers around the world.  They were asked to identify people who were known for:

their knowledge of action research theory and practice or of related methodologies;

how open they are to research methods which lie outside their own experience;

their capacity to provide critical thought in a supportive way, and in a spirit of mutual and cooperative enquiry;

their likely willingness to help with an innovative project such as this.

Similarly, we are encouraging subscribers to the discussion list to enter into discussion in a climate of mutual inquiry and education.  To the extent we are able to achieve this, we expect that the result will be a style of interaction which on the one hand is honest and helpful, and at the same time unthreatening and supportive.



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Maintained by Bob Dick; Version 1.03; Last revised 20001017