AR+ Action Research Plus: Journal Articles

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Special Issue Articles


1) Apgar, M. PhD, Douthwaite, B.M., Allen, W., Ybarnegaray, R.P. PhD. 

Getting beneath the surface in program planning, monitoring and evaluation: Learning from use of Participatory Action Research and Theory of Change in the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. 

Description: This article analyzes three years of multi-sited, participatory action research that aimed to foster learning and reduce poverty in the aquatic agricultural systems. Central to the work were considerations of inequitable interactions between agents and across scale and space and dealing with both uncertainty – nonlinearity – and inequality. Novel, emergent outcomes were achieved through new ways of using a theory of change within a participatory action research container.

Additional publications by the article’s authors: 

Apgar, M. (2010). Adaptive Capacity for Endogenous Development of Kuna Yala, an Indigenous Biocultural System:       

Douthwaite, B. (2002). Enabling Innovation: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Fostering Technological Change. Zed Books, London, England

Amede, Tilahun; Geheb, Kim; Douthwaite, Boru. (2009). Enabling the uptake of livestock–water productivity interventions in the crop–livestock systems of sub-Saharan Africa. Rangeland Journal, 31(2):223-230

Dorward A., Anderson S., Nava, Y., Pattison, J., Paz, R., Rushton, J. and Sanchez Vera, E. (2005). A Guide to Indicators and Methods for Assessing the Contribution of Livestock Keeping to the Livelihoods of the Poor. Department of Agricultural Sciences, Imperial College London

2) Jernsand, E.M. 

Engagement as transformation: Learning from a tourism development project at Dunga beach, Lake Victoria, Kenya. 

Description: Participatory tourism development projects have increased greatly in recent decades. However, in order to be transformative – to open up opportunity to wider social groups, to retain value locally, to restructure socioeconomic relationships – deep stakeholder engagement is needed. This article explores such engagement and its role in transforming tourism development in Kenya. It surfaces the importance of embodied and situated learning, relationship-building, and acknowledging and sharing power.


Additional publications by the article’s authors:

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena (2013), Dunga Ecotouring Development – Emerging Ideas and Possible Continuation

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena (2013),  Dunga Identity and Image – A Pre-Study

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena, Owino Jera Samuel, Achieng Odera Caroline (2016), A Tour Guide Association in Kisumu County: Gender Equality in Ecotourism

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena, Owino Jera Samuel (2015), Forming a Local Tour Guide Association: Reflections from the Startup Process

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena (2014), A Day in Dunga – Reflections and Ideas from Test Tours

Jernsand Eva Maria, Kraff Helena (2014), Ecotourism Development in Dunga with a Focus on Culture and Waste

3) Seferiadis, A.A., Cummings, S., Bunders, J.F.G. PhD, Zweekhorst, M.B.M. Phd. 

From ‘having the will’ to ‘knowing the way’: Incremental transformation for poverty alleviation among rural women in Bangladesh.


A Family Photograph


The Healthy Son of a Beneficiary

Description: Short term, linear, projectized approaches to complex problems like women’s poverty in rural Bangladesh are often unsuccessful. Taking a different approach, this paper documents the contribution of a transdisciplinary action research methodology to a development project in rural Bangladesh during 2006-2012, an approach that steadfastly targeted livelihood gains, allowed different stakeholders to take on the role of main change agent at different stages in the process, and sought small, incremental changes. The article argues that social transformation requires longer time-frames and small incremental, locally embedded changes.


Additional publications by the article’s authors: 

Seferiadis AA, Cummings S, Zweekhorst MBM and Bunders JFG (2015) ‘Producing social capital as a development strategy: implications at the micro-level’ Progress in Development Studies 15(2):170-185

Cummings, B.J. Regeer, W.S. Ho and M.B.M. Zweekhorst (2013) Proposing a fifth generation of knowledge management for development: investigating convergence between knowledge management for development and transdisciplinary research. Knowledge Management for Development Journal 9(2) 10-36

Zweekhorst, M.B.M., Broerse, J.E.W. and Bunders J.F.G. (2002), Institutionalizing a transdisciplinary approach to technology development in a Bangladeshi NGO.Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, 4(1):43-65.

Bunders, J.F.G. (1990), Biotechnology for small-scale farmers in developing countries: analysis and assessment. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit, pp. 17-50

4) Johnson, V. 

Moving Beyond Voice in Children and Young People’s Participation

Description: The article challenges decision-makers to listen to and act upon children and young people’s evidence. The data come from revisits, many years after research ended, to participatory action research processes in Nepal and the UK in which children and young people’s voices and opinions were surfaced for community decision makers. While valuing of these voices varied greatly, the article builds on the positive cases to introduce the Change-Scape Framework, a participatory action research approach that facilitates intergenerational dialogue.

Additional publications by the article’s author:

Johnson, V. (2011). Conditions for Change for Children and Young People’s Participation in Evaluation ‘Change-Scape, in: Child Indicators Research 4(4).

Johnston, V. (2010). Are Children’s Perspective Valued in Changing Contexts? Revisiting a Right-Based Evaluation in Nepal, in: Journal of International Development, 22(8): 1076-1083.

5) Lackovich-Van Gorp, L.

Unearthing Local Forms of Child Protection: Positive Deviance and Abduction in Ethiopia

Description: This article brings together positive deviance and action research to understand and prevent child marriage by abduction in a community in Ethiopia. The innovative combination leads to a problem-solving approach that mobilizes a community to uncover existing yet unrecognized solutions to a deeply rooted and complex issue of social justice and gender inequity. The findings challenge a number of current doctrines in conventional development, including best practice replication, scope and scale, and cost effectiveness.

Additional publications by the article’s author:

Dissertation: Positive Deviance and Child Marriage by Abduction in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia:



Publications by Author


Boru Douthwaite
Current working paper on “Use of Theory of Change in AAS”

DESCRIPTION: Use of theory of change (ToC) is an important part of the AAS Approach to research in development (RinD).  Theory of change helps guide AAS in its goal of triggering positive change in the lives of the poor and marginalized, dependent on aquatic agricultural systems (AAS) for their livelihoods. The purpose of this working paper is to articulate how we expect to use ToC in AAS to help people use it in practice as well as to help build a shared conceptual understanding of  why ToC is useful. Some of what follows is exploratory and experimental given that part of our research is to explore whether using ToC is useful in helping to achieve our research in development goals.  We begin by explaining how we frame and understand ToC such that it is useful for what the program is trying to do.  We then look at how we build ToC during the process of setting up programs-of-work in our hubs and use it for planning, monitoring and evaluation research. We explore how using TOC as part of participatory action research (PAR) can lead to change. We review practical experiences on which we are building before finishing with a summary and conclusions.

Ashley Lackovich-Van Gorp
Dissertation: Positive Deviance and Child Marriage by Abduction in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia 

DESCRIPTION: This dissertation uses Positive Deviance (PD) to understand child marriage by abduction in a community in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia. Marriage by abduction occurs among the poorest 10% of the Sidama population and entails the kidnapping of girls between the ages of 10 and 14 for forced genital circumcision, rape and marriage. PD is a problem solving approach that mobilizes a community to uncover existing yet unrecognized solutions to solve the specific problem. This study, which entailed an examination of the evolution of marriage norms among the Sidama as well as an analysis of the underpinnings of marriage by abduction, discovered that some community members practice behaviors and strategies that can prevent child marriage by abduction. The results support PD application to this specific form of child marriage as well as the practice as a whole, offering an alternative to traditional behavior change methodology.

Rodrigo Paz Ybarnegaray
A Guide to Indicators & Methods for Assessing the Contribution of Livestock Keeping to Livelihoods of the Poor

DESCRIPTION: The guide outlines methods and indicators for assessing the contribution of livestock keeping to livelihoods of poor people