1    “Good” research


Speaking only for myself ...

I had occasion recently to talk with some postgraduates about qualitative research.  They have included some qualitative components within their thesis research, which is in psychology.

Their undergraduate psychology program has clearly equipped them reasonably well to do quantitative research.  They are less well equipped to deal with any other research flavour.

It also seemed that much of the teaching had treated experimental and quasi-experimental research as the way to do research.

This may partly explain why most psychological practitioners don't read much research, let along do any.  They find the research they've been taught is often too limited to be relevant, and too hard to apply.  Many of them throw the baby out with the bathwater.  They ignore all research thereafter.

Suppose, instead, they were taught action research.  I suspect many of them would find it more relevant and useable in their work situation.  In turn, this might lead to more practitioner research.

I fear, though, that as a result they might regard action research as the one way to do research.  That doesn't seem to me to be a desirable outcome.

So, what is good research? Following Dewey, I think it's research which achieves the intended outcome within the particular research situation.  It seems to me that sometimes that's action research.  And sometimes it isn't.

Experimental research is good for some purposes, but not others.  And I think you can say the same about action research, or ethnographic research, or any other flavour.

That would complicate matters, though, wouldn't it.  It would make it difficult for us to do research as technicians.

No more following recipes.  We would have to understand what we're doing.




Copyright Bob Dick 1997-2000.  May be copied if it is not included in
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This may be cited as:   Bob Dick (1997)  "Good" research.  Occasional
pieces in action research methodology, # 1.  Available online at

Version 1.2;  Last modified 20000101


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