Post your thoughts about the purpose[s] and application[s] of action research in/to
evidence based practice.
Action Research and Evidence Based Practice
Evidence Based Practice seeks for and promotes the improvement of psychology
practice through the utilization of the best available evidence. Evidence Based Practice is
considered an important tool for the development of psychology study if the practice is
carefully thought and combined with research and theoretical reflection (Bauer, 2007). It has
been argued that action research, a qualitative method can help to achieve a state of
equilibrium between theories and empirical studies as it acts as a dialogue between and
abstract ideas and the facts and signs provided by concrete experiences (Flood, 2001). This is
a research providing a critical review about the purposes and applications of action research
into evidence based practice.
Action research has been termed as a way for intentional learning from experience
(Reason& Bradbury, 2004). Action research is intended to improve the efficacy or working
conditions of the practitioner. The purposes of action research include solving a challenge
experienced by the practitioner, or investigating a phenomenon that the practitioner has
noticed in the course of the working period.
As opposed to evidence based practice which prefers on explicit ways of conducting
practice (Bauer, 2007), action research uses action-reflection cycles that are somewhat
intuitive. Nevertheless, action research can help in the production of validated explanation of
the practitioners’ influence in their own learning, the learning of others, and the learning of
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social systems in which they work and live in (Reason& Bradbury, 2004). A way by which
action research can be integrated into evidence based psychology practice is by taking into
account psychology that exists in abstract generalizations of propositional theories and
applying them to practice.
According to Flood (2001) action research often calls for inquiry or reflection on
whether the action taken is the most effective one. This process, if effectively undertaken and
integrated in evidence based practice will help to utilize the best available evidence in
combination with a pragmatic perspective adopted from working experiences in psychology.
After all, evidence based practice emphasizes on the pursuit of the best available evidence
regardless of whether quantitative or qualitative methods were used in seeking this evidence.
In my view, the purposes and applications of action research into evidence based
practice are well aligned. Action research stems from perspectives that have or are being
experienced by the practitioner, and if used and proven to give a desirable action, then it suits
the goal of evidence based practice. Whereas practitioners have already recognized the need
to shape and inform routine clinical practice with external evidence, action research is a
process is by which reflection can be used to improve practice (Flood, 2001). Action-
reflection cycle involves a focus on values put forward in expressions of concern that a
practitioner wishes to improve. It leads to the establishment of action plans, which involve
acting and gathering information about the effectiveness of the chosen actions. Furthermore,
the effectiveness of the actions can be evaluated, and concerns can be modified depending
with the findings of the evaluation (Flood, 2001).
Evidence based practice is mostly favored in psychology practice for its ability to
effect change within the health care where practitioners are able to make explicit, conscious
ACTION RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE 3
and judicious use of current evidence in clinical practice. Yet, there have been suggestions to
combine action research, which is based on rather implicit, self-reflective methods that
practitioners can use to establish the most effective action in practice. The purposes and
applications of action research into evidence based practice should be accepted and embraced
in the sense that they allow a critical reflection/evaluation of the methods that practitioners
use while applying evidence in practice.
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Bauer, R. (2007). Evidence-based practice in psychology: Implications for research and
training. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63(7), pp. 685-694.
Flood, R., L. (2001). The relationship of ‘systems thinking’ to action research, in P. Reason
and H. Bradbury (eds) Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and
Practice. Sage: London.
Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2004).The abridged handbook of action research. London: Sage