I am 4 weeks in to my course at UBC called Education Action Research and it has been formative so far...
One of the primary ideas that has become apparent in these 4 weeks as we have bandied about ideas of what is action research is the reason that AR, and particularly critical participatory AR (CPAR) is so often the approach taken in Indigenous contexts.
As I wrote in my final paper last term, Indigenous Research methods and approaches are necessarily both participatory and reciprocal. Both of these characteristics cause some tension for many traditional researchers who have been immersed in so-called objective, positivist traditions that are fundamentally extractive and wholly inappropriate for Indigenous communities.
The relational nature of CPAR seems to me to be among its strengths, allowing for natural member-checking, and genuinely collaborative research methods. I appreciated our prof last night talking about the difference between methods and methodology in relation to CPAR. She mentioned that, as you may know, research methods are the techniques employed in the collection and analysis of data. Researchers can use surveys, focus groups, interviews, internet searches, and any number of other methods of gathering data, then analyze the data using any number of quantitative or qualitative methods. The researchers methodology is the approach taken to the project and is grounded in the researcher's worldview and their position on the nature of knowledge (epistemology), being (ontology), and goodness (axiology).
What was formative for me (and maybe it was just surfacing a tacit understanding) was the idea that a researcher can employ various different methods in their approach to a research project. For example the researcher might involve participants in the creation of a survey tool by co-creating the tool, or they might revise the research question together, or decide how and when and with whom results will be shared. These methods, traditionally associated with positivist paradigms, become participatory under a different paradigm.