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Discovering and engaging with the emotional context of action research: a personal journey

Cooper, J. (2012). Discovering and engaging with the emotional context of action research: a personal journey. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis consists of five elements which, when taken together, articulate the journey of personal and professional development I have undertaken as an action researcher, and convey the emotional context of this type of work. The foundation for my development journey was the undertaking of a three year action research study which aimed to improve the care for older people on two rehabilitation wards in an acute NHS trust. Analysis of findings provided theoretical explanations of what helped and hindered staff from engaging in practice change,with the report presenting a neat and straightforward process of investigation. My experience of undertaking the study was, however, far from the neat and straightforward process articulated, with it being a complex, difficult and painful undertaking which had a personal impact on me.

The thesis progresses from the research report to explore and critically reflect on my personal experience of undertaking the action research study, and engages with the experience of other action researchers through a secondary analysis of the literature. Through this work the emotional context of action research is highlighted for all those involved in the process. It is argued that attention to emotions throughout the action research process is essential for both participants and researchers to ensure that the care and support required to manage them can be provided, and to enable such emotions to be used as data that can further inform the field of study. Although the importance of recognising the emotional context of action research is articulated in this thesis, there is a dearth of literature in relation to it. It is concluded that more needs to be written on this aspect of practice so that those new to action research can be made aware of the importance of the emotional components inherent within it, and can ensure that appropriate strategies are in place to enable them to engage with, learn from, and utilise such emotions to further inform their work.

The messages in this thesis will be of relevance to those considering, undertaking, supporting and supervising action research studies. In addition, due to the similarities of action research processes, contexts and topic areas to other methods of practice change, they will also be relevant to those involved in general practice development activity.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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