Abstract\r Purpose — This paper explores the potential of ‘action research’ as transport survey method, with particular emphasis on critically assessing its utility in the resolution of major transport policy challenges, such as the mitigation of climate change and environmental impacts, transport-related social exclusion and intergenerational equity issues. Although not particularly novel within the social sciences, it is an approach that has been largely overlooked within the field of transport studies to date.\r \r Methodology/approach — The paper presents practical examples of where action research has been used to elicit information about people's travel experiences and behaviours and discusses how it achieves different outcomes from other qualitative transport survey methods. It identifies appropriate contexts for action research and explores the skills and techniques to overcome some of the main criticisms of the method. It then evaluates some of the critical challenges of applying an action research approach and identifies potential ways for overcoming these. Finally, it discusses the key challenges for analysis, presentation and dissemination of their action research ‘data’ and potential ways of overcoming these.\r \r Findings — Action research has a long history within the social sciences, dating back to practical problems in wartime situations in Europe and the United States. It can be applied at either the level of individuals, small groups and/or ‘communities’ and organisations, with the expressed aim of bringing together research enquiry and future policy or planned actions (ibid). It provides a useful additional survey technique for policy-makers wishing to understand the detailed process of travel behaviours and barrier to travel at the individual level.\r \r Originality/value of the paper — The action research method is specifically useful for supporting and actively encouraging behaviour change as an integral part of the research process. It has only recently emerged within the literature as a transport survey method. It can be a particularly useful method for developing more collaborative data collection methods research participants enquires and thus enable us to identify their underlying motivations, intentions, perceptions and negotiations, as well as the micro-level impacts of smaller scale transport initiatives.

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Published on 01/01/2013

Volume 2013, 2013
DOI: 10.1108/9781781902882-023
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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