Comparison between active research and traditional scientific research methods

This paper is concerning the subject of counseling:
*Compare action research methods to traditional scientific methods (similarities and
*Describe the role of the researcher in action research as compared to traditional scientific
This paper MUST have an introduction, in-text citations, conclusion, as well as references
per APA formatting.

Action Research


Active research refers to the paradigm of inquiry where the researcher’s primary purpose
is to improve the capacity and subsequent practices of the researcher rather that produce a
theoretical knowledge. This means that the quality of results is high and it involves an enhanced
research process. One characteristic of the research is that the researcher initiates the change
based on a feeling that something needs to change to create a better human situation. Action
research helps researchers to reflect on their practice, and create alternative ways to improve
their practice. Traditional scientific research is usually carried out by scientists who do not have
interest and who often have an excessive concern for objectivity and a wish to establish
generalized truths. These reasons as to why these types of research are carried out are clear
differences. Those who support action research are aimed at closing the social distance and
cultural gap between scientists and traditional researchers look at what others are doing and
strive, reflect on what they are thinking and feeling, and seek creative ways to improve their own
practice (Susman & Evered, 1978). In as much as the comparison between action research and
traditional research sound polemical, these two research methods are not pitted against each
other. Action research can involve reviews of traditional research along with other data sources

such as questionnaires, interviews, and observations so as to ensure continuous improvements in
the quality of data results.


 Comparison on basis of time and complexity of research
Traditional action research, contextual action research (action learning), radical
action research and educational action research are types of action research and they are
easy to carry out because they are not complex and they requires less time than the
traditional research methods (Shavelson & Towne, 2002). Experimental research, survey
research, and case research are methods of research in traditional scientific research and
they are time consuming and are complex to carry out. As compared to the traditional
research methods, action research is more exploratory where one does not have to carry
out a very precise research. Action research is mostly used by practitioners who want to
effect transformations in their own practices.
 Experimental research uses variables that are manipulated over time, associated
numeric data is collected and causal and correlation models are tested through
inferential statistical analysis procedures while action research methods do not use
manipulated variables.
 In scientific research, the researcher has great control of the environment being
observed while in action research; the researcher does not have total control over
the environment of the experiment. Action research exists in different types that
include traditional action research, contextual action research (action learning),
radical action research and educational action research (Lawler, 1985).

 Traditional scientific research is characterized by independent experimental
research studies that are aimed at discovering the “truth” from which educational
practice may profit. Its main aim is gathering knowledge which will be beneficial
to education. Action research methods have two goals; first is to satisfy the
subjects of the research, and second is to satisfy the research community.
However, it is harder to justify the latter especially I fields of inquiry where action
research has not been used often. Action research differs from other research
methods in that action research utilizes the tactic knowledge and experience and
commitment, action research requires an ongoing practice and growth and
therefore it is a long term commitment. The traditional scientific research methods
are long term and they come to an end after the research data required has been


 Both action research methods and traditional research methods provide data that
can be generalized in a big population.
 Another similarity is that if action research methods and traditional research
smethods are carried out carefully, they can provide accurate and good quality
data. That is why data from action research methods can be used to compliment
data from scientific research methods and vice versa.
The role of the researcher in traditional scientific and action research
In an action research, the researcher comes from outside the community the research is
being conducted. The researcher has a role of implementing the research methods such that the
outcomes are mutually agreeable to the participants (Babbie, 1990). Usually, the process is

maintained afterwards by the participants. To ensure this, the researcher is forced to adopt a
number of roles at different stages of the research process. These include the roles of a reporter,
observer, designer, facilitators, synthesizer, listener, teacher, catalyzer, and planner leader
(Shavelson & Towne, 2002). However, it is worth emphasizing that the principal role is
nurturing local leaders to the extent that they have the essential skills, resources, and knowledge
of assuming responsibility of the entire process. At this point, the local leaders have
comprehended the methods fully and can continue after the initiating researcher departs. In a
majority of the situations in action research, the role of the hired researcher is taking adequate
time to facilitate dialogue and foster the participant’s reflective analysis. In addition, the
researcher has a role of providing the participants with periodic reports and writing the final
report after the researcher’s involvement comes to an end.
In traditional scientific research, the researcher is viewed as an instrument (Babbie,
1990). His role includes collaborating and interacting with the participants, in addition to
gathering data all by himself. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to use data collection tools,
where there is no interaction with the participants. In regard to data collection tools, researchers
are required to develop interview guides and questionnaires. Taking field notes is important as
the notes are a vital supplement to the data gathered. The researcher should possess adequate
personal experience and knowledge so as to allow analysis and coding of data. Finally, the
researcher should report data and define how his research is vital.


In summary, action research is part of a naturalistic, post-positivist, and systemic
approach methodology. This makes them different from the traditional scientific methods in both

procedures and results. Furthermore, the scientific research environment is controlled therefore
interfering with the natural environment.



Babbie, E. R. (1990). Survey research methods (Vol. 2). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing
Lawler, E. E. (1985). Challenging traditional research assumptions. Doing research that is useful
for theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Shavelson, R. J., & Towne, L. (Eds.). (2002). Scientific research in education. New York:
National Academies Press.
Susman, G. I., & Evered, R. D. (1978). An assessment of the scientific merits of action research.
Administrative science quarterly, 582-603.