Sources: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research. Ed. by David Coghlan and Mary Brydon-Miller. Los Angeles: Sage Reference, 2014. 2 vols. $315 (ISBN 978-1-84920-027-1).

“Action research” has always been one of those broadly defined terms I would come across when perusing a more general research methods encyclopedia or textbook, until now. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research devotes eight hundred plus pages to exploring all aspects of this topic, from methods and methodologies to theory, settings, and philosophical underpinnings—even spirituality! The definition provided in the introduction is all-encompassing, noting the “global family of related approaches”; however, the breadth and diversity of contents within these volumes evinces the myriad layers of how, where, when, and why action research is used (xxv).

Entries, listed alphabetically (not clustered by theme, etc., except in the Reader’s Guide), vary in length, most of which span several pages and contain enough substance to be broken down into four to five (or more) sections. Where appropriate, tables and other figures or charts are included to supplement the text. Front matter is brief, and there are no appendices. Many of the entries would, at first glance, appear to be generic and not necessarily unique to action research (for example, “Authenticity,” “Conflict Management,” “Data Analysis,” “Quantitative Methods,” etc.) but, as would be expected of any decent, specialized reference source, the editors have done their due diligence to ensure all contributions have been contextualized in a manner appropriate to the book’s focus. All entries end with further readings, some of which are quite thorough.

To my knowledge, there are no reference sources comparable to this title. Libraries thinking of acquiring this set may also want to consider having The Action Research Planner: Doing Critical Participatory Action Research (Springer, 2014) or The SAGE Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice (SAGE, 2008, 2013) on-hand as companions for anyone looking to put action research into practice. This title would be appropriate for academic libraries of all types, as well as public libraries. Unless specifically requested by a faculty member, however, I would not go out of my way to acquire an entire encyclopedia dedicated to action research for the reference collection at the small liberal arts college library at which I work—I just don’t think it would see much “action” here (pun intended). I will, however, proceed to add my reviewer’s copy and see what happens!—Todd J. Wiebe, Head of Research and Instruction, Van Wylen Library, Hope College, Holland, Michigan

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