Although there are impressive differences amongst action research practitioners, there are several basic elements. These include research that endorses participation with a strong emphasis on democracy and action and aim to alter the initial situation to a more self- managed one. Differing approaches are adopted by practitioners using action research. Some wish to generate liberty through self realisation and some emphasise political interpretations which vary in intensity of the political agendas. Greenwood and Levin further explain that these differing approaches are quite incompatible. Examples of these incompatibilities being that some rest on Marxist notions, pragmatic philosophy, or social psychology and then they state: “And a few simply advocate that whatever the question, participation is the answer” (p. 8).
Kemmis and McTaggart (2005) explain that although at times action research is inadequately described, the elements generally consist of a spiral of self reflective cycles. These cycles include planning a change, acting and observing the process and as a consequence of the change, reflecting on this, replanning, acting again, reflecting and so on. This cyclic movement had been presented earlier by Dick (1993) a psychologist when stipulating the conditions present in action research project. For Dick the process was cyclic, qualitative and participatory and commences with an intention to produce both action and research outcomes. Dick states:
The purpose in action research is to learn from your experience, and apply that learning to bringing about change. As the dynamics of a social system are often more apparent in times of change (Lewin 1948) learning and change can enhance each other. (p. 14)
Dick suggests that by bringing intention into the process, learning can be maximised. Dick postulates that responsiveness to the situation and attempts to achieve real understanding designate action research as a feasible research strategy.
Action Research and Nursing Research
The use of action research to bridge the theory practice gap by such a wide range of disciplines continues to have merit for utilisation by nursing researchers. Holter and