Our way(s) to action research: Doctoral students’ international and and interdisciplinary collective memory work

Blog post by Zheng Zhang

gothenburgHave you ever felt lonely on your journey as becoming action researchers? Have you ever had a hankering after support from experienced others? We did. Luckily, in the burnished fall of 2011, we met in Gothenburg, Sweden and started our collective biography as fledgling action researchers. Highly motivated to make a difference in our respective professional areas through research, we all felt intrigued by the possibilities that action research could offer to us. We, therefore, decided to extend our collaboration beyond our encounter in Gothenburg and reflect upon our paths to becoming action researchers with the aim to inspire and support other neophyte action researchers on their own journeys.

All of our shared stories started with struggles and tensions we experienced in planning or conducting action research projects. However, a refreshed understanding of the nested relationship of life, profession, and research helped relieve some of our frustrations. Together, we cherish our hopes in doing empowering action research based on a better understanding of whom we are, how we understand life, and how we stand in our professions. If it was our strong commitment to changing practices for our participants that led us to action research, now it is our commitment to changing practices with and by our participants which encourages us to embrace hope.

We anticipate that our collective memory work can help new action researchers to understand what it means to “become” in action research in all its richness, complexity, and challenge. We also believe that through our example of collective biography other action researchers may want to use this method to delineate their action research trajectories.

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