Validity in action research: a discussion on theoretical and practice issues encountered whilst using observation to collect data
Aim. The paper contributes to an understanding of validity in action research methodology by examining issues arising from our attempts to describe the role of an observer in an action research study.
Background. Our experiences in observing patient care in intensive care settings are used to illuminate discussion on the nature of validity in action research.
Content. The paper examines the nature of validity in action research methodology before briefly describing a study that included observing intensive care staff providing patient care. Various perspectives on observation as a research method are critically examined. These include observer role, level of participation, use of cover, structure and timing of observation. Validity in action research underpins the discussion in the paper.
Conclusion. We conclude that it may not always be possible to categorize the role of the observer within existing definitions. It may be better to summarize the actual observer role as a way of illustrating validity so that the reader can judge the validity of the findings from an action research study.