Open reviewing process

Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research

 
Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Tuesday, 15 December 2015, 1:41 PM
 

Dear all,

The attached manuscript is an outcome of having discussed an earlier version of the manuscript at the Community Space.  In the final part of the December 2015 issue of EJOLTS, you will see Pip Bruce Ferguson referring to this discussion.  Jack Whitehead was also enthusiastic and suggested I should submit it for review after making a few small changes. Making changes and submitting, here is the response I got from the editor:

Delighted to tell you your paper has been accepted for review by the editorial board. As Jack worked with you in the community space I suggest you have someone different on your review team. It introduces you to another member of the community and they can come to you afresh. Moira Laidlaw on the editorial team has already said she is keen to work with you. I think you would find Branko Bognar and Mark Potts would be interesting to work with too.

As we had a wonderful discussion on the Community Space, I look very much forward to the meeting the review team.  I would very much appreciate if the review team could also have a quick look at the discussion we had on the Community Space, as I think it could be useful to see why Jack liked the paper and why the paper is written in the third person format rather than the first person format typically used in Living Theory accounts.

Best regards,

Petter

Picture of Moira Laidlaw
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Moira Laidlaw - Sunday, 27 December 2015, 12:13 PM
 

Dear Petter. I hope you have had a happy Christmas. I apologise for not getting back to you earlier about your paper, but what with assessments with my Masters students at the Open University and visits from family and friends, I have been unable to set aside a suitable time-period to respond to your paper. I will, from tomorrow afternoon, be able to do so. I will post a response by/on Wednesday 30th December.

I am looking forward to it, as I have read it several times already and enjoyed it

All the very best,

Moira

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Monday, 28 December 2015, 10:13 AM
 

Thank you very much for your kind words, Moira.  I hope you have been having a happy Christmas as well, and I look very much forward to reading your response to the paper.

best regards,

Petter


Picture of Moira Laidlaw
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Moira Laidlaw - Tuesday, 29 December 2015, 3:53 PM
 

Dear Petter. Thank you for posting your paper into the Reviewing space. I do apologise for not getting back to you earlier about it, as I can only imagine the degree of hard work and dedication it’s taken to get the paper this far. I’ve read the feedback in the Community Space from Pip and Jack and am taking that into consideration in this review.

“Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research.” This is a gripping title. Its originality is intriguing by itself. I have been finding out a lot recently about gaming from a young man of my acquaintance (Kieran whom I wrote about in my paper published in the last issue), and so had an extra interest, if you like, in exploring this set of ideas from your paper.

My feedback to you is on two fronts:

1)   Its cohesion as an original and creative contribution to research into Living Theory as a social movement. I wanted to include this category because it seemed to me the paper has the potential to be overtly original and creative in its contribution to dialogues about, and research into, Living Theory. I don't think it has yet lived up to that potential, but I feel it’s important to bear that in mind in terms of the perspective from which I’m coming to this review-process.

2)   The paper’s readability. By this I’m writing about the ways in which you as an author bear – or don’t bear – the reader in mind. I believe any written communication needs to communicate, and in an academic journal this criterion becomes doubly important as it is in the nature of an internationally refereed journal that some of the ideas will be complex! In my view it is for the writer to offer ideas that are close to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ saying about reaching for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. I volunteered to act as one of the reviewers for this paper because I was intrigued by the originality of the title. So I approach this review as a living-theorist with wide experience both of my own Living Theory and in working with other living-theorists but not in terms of Game Theory or practical experience of Pac-Man. Thus like any reviewer of this journal, my expertise lies in Living Theory.

Main Review: The title of your article is clearly about making connections between two big ideas, and so as a reader I was expecting to find links throughout about them both, which would finally lead to conclusions about your findings. And I imagined the connections you would be making would constitute a genuine and original contribution to Living Theory research. Certainly I’ve read nothing of this kind in a Living Theory context before, so I was eagerly anticipating the chance to review something of overt originality and creativity.

In terms of setting off on my reading-journey, I was expecting from the title that some description and analyses would be required in terms of familiarising the reader with the Pac-Man game (as most readers would come to this journal as Living Theorists or people with an interest in Living Theory).

The Abstract, however, apart from the final sentence, doesn’t offer an overview of the paper, but argues through some complex ideas instead. It’s important, I feel, to offer the reader a framework into which the ideas can become more articulate through their explicit structuring.

In the Introduction, similarly, I couldn’t see the signposting that would help me to navigate through your text. At a simple level I was expecting something similar to: ‘first I will do this, and then I will do this and from this point I will’…’and this will show etc.. Then you make an assumption which I believe isn’t sufficiently argued or substantiated and that is about the equation – as you present it – between TQM and Living Theory, as if such a connection already exists sufficiently to be theorised about. I am not sure this is the case and it needs qualifying in some way so that it’s clearer.

In addition, you don’t state the intentions of the paper until p. 3 when you write:

The aim of the study is to investigate this WikiHow strategy as a means for becoming competent at Pac-Man and thus be able to translate Living Theory studies of TQM implementation from one context to another.

Perhaps this needed to be placed right at the beginning in order for the reader to be able to follow the purposes and processes of the text.

In the main body of the text there is are too many pages given over to the description of the Pac-Man video game and your own specific attempts both to master the skills and see the connections. However, I feel that much of this description of how the game works would have been better off in an Appendix, with your description and explanation for the mastery of the game and consequent connections to be made with LT presented as a process of living-theory itself as the whole purpose of your paper. Pip mentioned this in her reviews on the Community Space and you responded by suggesting you were going to look at her – and Jack’s – responses and then submit your paper for review. It doesn’t seem to me that you’ve done this sufficiently at all in terms of the sheer length of your descriptions. At the moment, Living Theory – and particularly Living Theory as a social movement - seems to come second to your absorption in the Pac-Man video game.

And I think this over-writing of the descriptions without making overt connections to their relevance to your title (which is about looking at Living Theory as a social movement through a new lens) is a major imbalance within the paper.

This would need to be ironed out before I would be willing to recommend it for publication in EJOLTS.

There is another imbalance is also discernible in some of your use of language such as on p. 30 completely out of place in EJOLTS. You write:

The autobiographical story told by Øgland (2013) is similar to Whitehead’s story in many ways. Like Whitehead he is trying to help a group of people to develop as responsible professionals by living according to his ideals of care, trust and workplace democracy while observing how such ideals are often difficult to follow when they are inconsistent with the values expressed by the institution itself. He consequently tells a story about implementing TQM through the use of critical theory for the purpose of aiding members of the organisation against institutional oppression.”

Whether or not your intention is conscious, this kind of writing (putting ‘the researcher’ instead of ‘I’) goes way beyond the merely linguistic. The researcher in such an account is ‘out there, distant, not personally identified with’. ‘I’, on the other hand, as the narrator of the action and reflection, takes responsibility for the words on the page and the living meanings behind them. This is a fundamental problem with this paper, to my mind. It is also something that Pip commented on in her responses to your earlier submission.

Why do I see this as such a problem? Your use of the third person places a writer’s view of knowledge and theorising as remote from the author’s, i.e. from yours. Yet you are central to this whole process. This is your paper, your processes, your ideas, your originality and creativity, throughout. The way you’re writing about it is as something ungrounded in living relationships and values and developing over time (Laidlaw, 1996). Yet you have an intention: to make connections in order to facilitate deeper learning, not only in others, but also in yourself. Using the apparently safe, and objective title of ‘the researcher’, you miss out on a closer analysis and synthesis that would have been possible if you had included as central your own processes of learning.

I have a rather sweeping suggestion, Petter. I’m proposing you couch the whole paper as your own Living Theory enquiry, i.e. setting up what you wanted to do from your 2009 insights to the present day in terms of your findings about Pac-Man acting as a useful tool in seeing the dimensions of Living Theory as a social movement, with its personal and developmental value to you in terms of making connections both intellectual and experiential. In this account, whose main middle section already has the shape of an action-reflection cycle (McNiff, 2013), you could show the development of growing insights (captured in the title to the paper) about the usefulness to Living Theory of making connections between the learning enabled by engaging in the processes of the Pac-Man video game and Living Theory as a social movement. In this way it could become an original and creative contribution to Living Theory research itself. I also think it would facilitate the readers’ orientation to your stimulating ideas. As it stands your writing sits awkwardly, in my opinion, between an analysis of the Pac-Man game and connections to be made with Living Theory as a social movement. As a result, I am left at the end of the paper not really fully understanding what the paper is for.

In conclusion, there are three areas that need to be reworked before I can recommend publication. Both are concerned with originality and creativity, and readability:

 

1)   Making your description and explanation of the Pac-Man game as a helpful metaphor for Living Theory as a social movement more overt and clearly spelled out for the reader. This would entail changing the lens through which you’re currently writing – from someone distancing himself from what he is doing, to someone immersing himself in the process and becoming one with it. This would give you insights that an outsider-perspective cannot. Living Theory is created through immersion, not distance, through living rather than theorising about it separately afterwards.

2)   Connected with this would be the judicious pruning of descriptions about the game to an appendix. This would enable deliberations about the significance of the game’s processes as a way of seeing Living Theory as a social movement to take place more upfront. At the moment they appear to be almost afterthoughts.

3)   You need an overt structure by which the reader can navigate their way through your text. You need to let them know the significance of what they’re going to read, what they’re reading and what they’ve read. This isn’t about talking down to your reader, Petter, but helping your reader to cope with some very complex and intricate ideas.

Connected to the overall readability are some examples of technical weaknesses that you need to look at.

Compound nouns:

You use these a lot and they tend to render a sentence awkward, rather than lucid. Congregating a lot of nouns together tends is a poor written style and destracts from the quality of expression expected at this level. Please go through the paper and fix as many as you can. A few examples below

Title: ‘Pac-Man video game models’, should read, models of the PacMan video-game.

Abstract: central decision problems facing TQM implementation professionals

strategies for freedom transformation. Professionals implementing TQM.

Introduction: On the other hand, regardless of the TQM ownership distinction, not all TQM implementation efforts succeed. ‘Regardless of the distinction of TQM’…

‘Literature-review’: needs a hyphen.

 ‘TQM implementation failure’ – how about, ‘failure to implement TQM’?

Other errors:

·      2.2 p. 5 From a practitioner’s perspective, not practitioner perspective.

·      All the titles for tables and figures go underneath and not above.

·      p. 18. With a game like Pac-Man this is something that is automatically taken care of by the way the game is designed.

·      p. 29. In the world of Pac-Man it took almost 20 years before somebody was sufficiently skilled.

·      In the References, the Laidlaw paper is no longer in press, but was published in the December 2015 issue of EJOLTS.

I do hope this review has been constructive for you, Petter. It’s meant not as a catalogue of things that need attention so much as a tribute to its potential to constitute an original and creative contribution to Living Theory research.

Warm regards, Moira


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Wednesday, 6 January 2016, 1:55 PM
 

Dear Moira,

Thank you for your feedback on my manuscript.  Some of the issues you mention are easy to deal with, such as grammatical errors, and it is also helpful to get some advice on improving the readability by trying to reduce the number of compounded nouns and other issues that you mention.  I have already corrected the errors you identify.  By the way, I didn’t know that literature-review was spelled with a hyphen.  When searching the internet, I get the impression that most people spell it as two separate words, but I suppose that only means that I am not alone in making this mistake.  It is now corrected.  You also mention that all titles, both for tables and figures, go underneath not above.  Are you certain about this?  In the EJOLTS template I used, figures were titled underneath but tables above.

However, before engaging more with your feedback regarding the readability of the paper, it is perhaps better that I start with your comments on what you describe as the paper’s “cohesion as an original and creative contribution to research into Living Theory as a social movement”.  I am happy to see that you see the paper as having the potential to be overtly original and creative in its contributions to dialogues about, and research into, Living Theory, but I need to understand why you think it has not yet lived up to that potential.

As you state in the beginning of your main review, the title of the manuscript suggests making a connection between two big ideas, and how you expected the paper to clarify this connection.  You do not explicitly say what these two ideas are, but I assume you are talking about “Living Theory as Social Movement” on the one hand and “Use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research” on the other.  You then comment on the abstract and introduction not being sufficiently helpful for understanding the paper.

I value these comments.  I changed the title for the manuscript after the discussions on the Community Space as Jack said that he would recommend the paper for review provided I did some small changes in the abstract and conclusion.  Actually, I did some more changes that that, including renaming the paper, but perhaps the new title does not capture the essence of the paper properly.  It was Jack who saw this connection with Living Theory as a Social Movement, and I was very pleased when he told me so, but the original intent of the study was much narrower than that.  I was simply interested in how to translate insights from one Living Theory account (Jack’s 1993 account) into another (my own Living Theory account on implementing TQM in a public sector setting) by use of the Pac-Man video game as a translation tool.  That was the original intent of the research, and that is why the paper is essentially concerned with the issue of learning how to play Pac-Man.

So far I have gotten surprisingly little comment on the relevance of the problem I try to solve with this paper.  I don’t understand why.  When I read a Living Theory account, like your recent EJOLTS paper, I can see that you struggle with issues and that you develop an improved understanding of how you think about people like Kieran and how easily people like him could end up on the beach like the on the famous picture we know from the migration crisis, but I am not certain what this paper tells me about how to deal with implementing TQM in the public sector.  Do you see what I mean?  As a reader, I can engage and sympathise with you as a writer of your reflective biography, but for me to make this study relevant for me there has to be more than an emotional connection.  I need to translate your diagnosis of the problem you are struggling with into something that fits with my problem, and I need to translate your solution strategy into a solution strategy that would work in my case.

This is what my paper is about.  In the introduction I refer to Pam Lomax’s book on Living Theory TQM for the Educational Sector, and Jack Whitehead’s 1993 biography, and I explain how I want to understand the situation Jack was in and what he did to deal with that situation.  I introduce the Pac-Man game for that purpose because that makes it possible for me to focus more precisely on what I see as his diagnosis of the problem and his solution strategy.  By doing this it becomes much more obvious what my situation looks like and what I might do in response to this. However, all of this is just motivation.  The aim of the research, as you also identify, is to investigate the WikiHow strategy as a means for becoming competent at Pac-Man and thus be able to translate Living Theory studies of TQM implementation from one context to another.

Before I start rewriting the title, abstract and introduction, do you think it would be possible for you to comment on the motivation for the research?  Have you shared the same experience as me in reading a fascinating Living Theory account that has grabbed you emotionally, and you feel that the text is trying to say something profoundly important to you, but are still incapable of articulating what the insights from this account would translate into your world?  Please remember that I am not an educator.  I live in a different world.  I try to implement TQM in the public sector, but I am fascinated by reading some of these Living Theory accounts from educators like Jack because his problems are similar to mine and I want to learn from his strategies for developing my own.  Is this a completely irrelevant?  Why is there so little interest in this question?  To me it is the most fundamental question of all.  One thing is to communicate clearly, making the EJOLTS readers understand the story, but communication also includes mental activity from the person listing to or reading a story.  He needs something that makes it possible to structure what he hears into something that makes sense in his own case.  He needs to recognise the meaning of the Living Theory story from the basis of his own theories and experiences.   This is why I introduce the Pac-Man model, and this is why I write about the challenges of learning how to master the Pac-Man game.

I will now try to rewrite the title, abstract and introduction for the paper.  I look forward to continuing the dialogue and making the research presented in the paper more understandable for the EJOLTS readership.

Best regards

Petter


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Marie Huxtable - Sunday, 10 January 2016, 3:56 PM
 

Hi Petter

I and others have been following the conversations in the community space and now in the open review space. It is very much in the spirit of EJOLTS challenging and evolving new understandings and practice and provoking a great deal of interesting and productive conversations, reflections and further questions.

While Living Theory research is a form of self-study its purpose is not to research 'who am I?' but rather to research the implications of the researcher researching their living ontological and relational values to live them as fully as they can in their practice to contribute to the flourishing of humanity. So I am wondering whether it might be useful to you and others to clarify:

 

- what is your motivation for your research?

- what is the nature of the knowledge you are creating?

- what wouldn’t be heard if the paper didn’t come into EJOLTS?


i might have missed the points you have already made but I hope in asking the questions again something might become clearer or something new emerge.


Something exciting is emerging so I do hope you and your review team keep going here


Marie

Picture of Pip Bruce Ferguson
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Pip Bruce Ferguson - Monday, 11 January 2016, 2:10 PM
 

Dear Petter and review team (and Editorial Board)

The discussion over this paper is absolutely fascinating and I do hope it continues. I lack the brilliant analytical/suggestion skills that Moira and Pete demonstrate in their replies but what is pretty evident is that this paper is quite 'outside the box' and is challenging us all as reviewers. Petter, you replied to me in November:

"Before I consider journeying into such a task, however, I need to understand the difference between “LET account” and “LET research” in criterion no. 2 used by the editorial committee, as I was hoping to improve the paper for having it reviewed as “LET research” while NOT being a “LET account”".

This seems to me to be the nub of the issue. I am not sure how this might be resolved, but can see that it is an important point. As a reviewer, I have been accustomed to seeing 'the I' clearly in papers I have reviewed, and I have always thought of that 'I' as an essential aspect of a LET paper. We declare our values; we indicate how we hold ourselves to account for those values (and how, as living contradictions, we often breach them); we show how our LET is helping us to grow as researchers, and to contribute to the flourishing of humanity.

I can see the conundrum, and its resolution is going to be a matter for the Editorial Board to decide in the end; but I do recognise that you are trying to break new ground here and I hope the ongoing discussion finds a way forward.

Warm regards

Pip

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Tuesday, 12 January 2016, 3:03 PM
 

Dear Pip,

Thank you for your enthusiastic and encouraging words about the review discussion we are having.  I also want to thank you for adding the topic about “LET account” and “LET research” from the Community Space discussion and your editorial in the latest EJOLTS issue.  The feedback from Moira and Peter is very useful.  In order to meet some of their issues I have now changed the title of the paper and the abstract as follows:

Evaluation of the Pac-Man game as a tool for extracting structural insights from Living Theory accounts

Abstract

Living Theory accounts can be useful for getting rich and deep understanding of social problems and solutions from the viewpoint of an engaged insider, but for readers who do not share the same institutional background it may not always be obvious how to identify and translate the insights from a potentially interesting Living Theory account into their own situations.  When educational gaming scholars have addressed this problem, they claim that it can be solved by using game models as translation tools.  However, as there appears to be no experience with this approach within the Living Theory community, this study looks at the particular case of the Pac-Man game for translating insights from a biographical study from the educational sector into a study concerned with implementing total quality management (TQM) in government agencies.   The aim of the research is to investigate how much time and effort is needed for becoming proficient at Pac-Man when using the popular WikiHow strategy. The paper is thus concerned with Pac-Man strategy and gaming theory, and it contains detailed accounts on the progress of the author as he develops Pac-Man skills at levels of mastering the controls, understanding the rules, learning strategy, understanding the game from the designer perspective and making it into a model for representing social reality.  The outcome is that of confirming the relevance of Pac-Man as a translation tool, with possible implications on how to turn Living Theory into a social movement, but the usefulness of the game model comes at the cost of having to spend a significant amount of time and effort in learning to master it.

By making these changes, I do not necessarily feel that the paper becomes more like a traditional “LET account”, but I think it improves the quality of the paper as “LET research”.  I am very grateful for Moira and Peter comments and questions that made me realise what in retrospect seems like an obvious weakness with the original version of the paper.  My next step will be to rewrite the introduction chapter in a similar fashion.

Marie also added some interesting and useful questions.  However, I felt like commenting on your input, Pip, before returning to Marie’s post.

Petter


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 15 January 2016, 2:41 PM
 

Dear Marie,

Thank you for your kind words and nice comments on the discussions of this paper both on the community space and here in the review process.  So far the input has been of great value and importance as it has lead me to rewrite the title, abstract and introductory chapter almost from scratch.  I have now also gone through chapter 2 (theory) and 3 (method), but so far I have only made some minor adjustments here, primarily of grammatical nature, as I feel the nature and level of detail in these chapters are necessary for understanding the paper.  I will continue going through the rest of the paper in a similar manner, using the comments from Moira and the others as guidelines and checklist.

You also ask some very interesting questions.  Here are my answers.

Q: What is the motivation for your research?

A: I have found the writing of Jack and others totally fascinating, and can resonate deeply with some of the stories on an emotional level, but sometimes I have difficult translating the insights from the LET accounts into my own context of implementing TQM.  However, there are studies showing how game models can be used for making such translations, and as nobody seems to have done this in the context of Living Theory yet, I want to share my experience on this by telling about the results of using the Pac-Man model.

Q: What is the nature of the knowledge you are creating?

A: I am describing my own process of using the WikiHow strategy for learning how to develop sufficient Pac-Man competence for being able to use the Pac-Man model as a translation tool.  Knowledge comes on different levels, as explained by the Prensky (2006) framework used in the paper, but the most important aspect of the study is that I confirm that the idea of using game models for translating insights between Living Theory accounts seems relevant and useful, although it comes at the cost of having to spend time and effort on understanding the game models, such as the Pac-Man game in my case.

Q: What would’t be heard if the paper didn’t come into EJOLTS?

A: If we want to make Living Theory to evolve into a social movement, in my opinion it is not sufficient to teach people to do action research and write Living Theory accounts.  It is also necessary to discuss how we can systematically learn from the existing body of LET accounts presented in EJOLTS and elsewhere.  In this paper I try to voice my ideas on how this can be achieved through the means of game theory, and I believe these are ideas that are not at least relevant and important in terms of how to communicate with a younger generation of potential EJOLTS members as gaming is becoming an increasingly important aspect (for good and bad) of how to understand almost all aspects of social and behavioural science.

Best regards,

Petter


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Marie Huxtable - Thursday, 21 January 2016, 8:44 AM
 

Hi Petter

Good to hear from you. A few thoughts I hope you might find helpful.

Living Theory research accounts can be useful for getting rich and deep understanding of social problems and solutions from the viewpoint of an engaged insider. However, for readers who do not share the same institutional background it may not always be obvious how to identify and translate the insights from a potentially interesting Living Theory research accounts into their own situations.  You might want to think about how to enable your reader to understand your insights through your eyes, by using ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘my’ instead of the anonymous third person voice. For instance:

 

I, as an educational gaming scholar, have translated the insights from interesting living-theory accounts into my own situation.  I claim that I have done this for myself using game models and WikiHow as translation tools as I tackle a problem in my work implementing TQM in a government agency. There is no account of using this approach within the Living Theory community. My account describes and explains my investigation and shows the time and effort I needed to become proficient at Pac-Man when using the popular WikiHow strategy, the skills I developed for mastering the controls, understanding the rules, learning strategy, understanding the game from the designer perspective and making it into a model for representing social reality.  I conclude my account explaining my educational influence in my own learning, the learning of others and the possible implications of what I have learned for contributing to Living Theory as a social movement.


Hope this helps and you are finding plenty to learn and smile 

Marie

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 22 January 2016, 12:08 PM
 

Dear Marie,

Thank you for your friendly thoughts and suggestions.  I have now revised the complete manuscript, but I will go through it once more and check with the comments Moira made.  Moira said that the original abstract was more like an argument than a summary of the paper, and she also said that the title of the paper, the abstract and the introduction (section 1) did not prepare her sufficiently for what was to come in section 2 (theory), section 3 (method), section 4 (results) and section 5 (discussion).  As a consequence of this, I decided to focus on rewriting the title, abstract, introduction and conclusion as the main strategy for making it easier for EJOLTS readers to understand why the paper is written as a contribution to “LET research” without being written as a “LET account”.

This is something I discussed with Pip and Jack on the Community Space, and something Pip also brought forward in her editorial for EJOLTS Vol. 8 No. 2 (December 2015).  It is also something that I want to comment on with respect to your thoughts on how the present abstract might sound different if it had been presented by means of first person active rather than a third person passive.  Although your rewording of the first passage of the abstract makes it fit into the conventional “LET account” style of how I have been trying to improve my own practice, in a similar way as a school teacher might improve his teaching practice in the classroom, this is not really what my paper is about.

The paper is concerned with “LET research”, in the sense that I am trying to suggest to the EJOLTS community that game models like Pac-Man could be useful for translating insights from one LET account to another, although at a (possibly high) cost of having to learn such games, but it is not a “LET account”.  My research question is not a “how to improve my own practice” type of question.  As I write in the abstract, “the aim of the research is to investigate how much time and effort is needed for becoming proficient at Pac-Man when using the popular WikiHow strategy”.

In other words, according to the classification of research paradigms in “All you need to know about action research” (McNiff & Whitehead, 2006, p. 40-41) into “technical rational (empirical) research”, “interpretative research” and “critical theoretic research” (where action research is defined as having developed from critical theory), my approach in this paper is in the style of the first of these three categories.  The question I try to answer is a type of question that requires this kind of approach.  The paper is motivated by the overall concerns of critical theory and LET action research, but it is not a LET account.  In retrospect I think I would have made it easier for myself if I had already published an EJOLTS paper of the type “A living theory account of trying to implement total quality management (TQM) by means of critical systems thinking (CST),” as that paper could have ended with pointing out the need for solving the problem I am suggesting how to solve in this paper, but before doing anything like that I would like to have the current paper published so that I and other LET researchers could make use of the ideas it contains in further research.  By publishing this paper I want to contribute to LET research, but NOT by way of presenting a LET account.

Let me try to put it another way.  To me there is not all that much difference between positivist, interpretive and critical research paradigms of social research.  To me all (social) science is critical theory in the sense that the purpose of science is to create change, and that involves diagnosing the present situation and designing interventions to test whether the situation can be improved.  In the case of action research in general and living theory action research in particular, both diagnosis and treatment have to be considered.  What interpretive research does, as I see it, is to look at the diagnosis in isolation.  This is what anthropologists and ethnographers do.  They want to describe some social phenomenon without interfering with it.  For example, teachers from Norway travel to Britain to observe teaching practices and then return home with some new and interesting ideas.  It is not action research, but it could still be relevant in the context of LET research if the visitors had been observing something that would stimulate LET action research when returning home.

The relevance of positivist research, as I see it, is that it is more interested in measuring the effects of the new method and finding cause-effect relationships that could explain success factors for implementing this new type of practice.  In order words, the focus would be on the treatment.  What I am suggesting is that interpretive studies contribute to the diagnosing of the problem while positivist studies contribute to the understanding of the treatment, but when we put these two approaches together, we get action research.

So, the reason my paper is written in the third person passive is because the aim of the paper is to give some hints at how much time and effort is needed for learning to become sufficiently competent at Pac-Man to be able to achieve “fifth level” learning (Prensky, 2006), i.e. how much time and effort is needed for becoming sufficiently competent at Pac-Man to be able to use the game model as a tool for translating insights from one LET account into another.

As I have pointed out in discussions with Pip and others on the Community Space, I cannot understand why one should expect that “LET research” always have to be presented in the shape of a “LET account”.  LET accounts are, of course, the primary way of presenting the kind of research that is disseminated through EJOLTS, but surely not everything has to comply with this formula?  When I read Jackie Delong’s review of Kahneman’s “Thinking, fast and slow”, the review was not written in the “how do I improve my own practice of reviewing books” format.  To me it seems unreasonable to force all LET research into the “LET account” format when ideas and nature of research may be more effectively presented using a different format.

I am very pleased with the open EJOLTS review process that makes it possible to have meaningful discussion in an atmosphere of kindness and mutual respect.

Best regards,

Petter


Picture of Mark Potts
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Mark Potts - Thursday, 28 January 2016, 3:03 PM
 

Hi Petter and other reviewers

I have just returned from a post Xmas/New Year holiday, hence my tardy response to your paper and postings. I have read this thread with interest and see from your latest posting that you are re-working the paper. It would therefore seem pointless me reviewing your original paper. I look forward to the revised version with real interest given the level of discussion that your paper has already generated in this forum.

Best wishes

Mark Potts

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Thursday, 28 January 2016, 4:06 PM
 

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your kind words.  This discussions so far have been very useful in terms of how I have approached the task of rewriting the paper.  I have now made a new version that I hope to present tomorrow with commentary explaining how I have addressed each of the points Moira made in her original review post.

Best wishes

Petter

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 29 January 2016, 2:47 PM
 

Dear Moira,

In your review of my manuscript you made some comments that I felt were highly useful for improving the paper, both in terms of content and readability.  As I now submit a new version of the manuscript, let me comment on how I have addressed the points you make.

Moira: The title of your article is clearly about making connections between two big ideas, and so as a reader I was expecting to find links throughout about them both, which would finally lead to conclusions about your findings. And I imagined the connections you would be making would constitute a genuine and original contribution to Living Theory research. Certainly I’ve read nothing of this kind in a Living Theory context before, so I was eagerly anticipating the chance to review something of overt originality and creativity.

In terms of setting off on my reading-journey, I was expecting from the title that some description and analyses would be required in terms of familiarising the reader with the Pac-Man game (as most readers would come to this journal as Living Theorists or people with an interest in Living Theory).

Petter: The title you refer to is “Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research”. When Jack read an earlier version of the paper, called “Using the Pac-Man game for translating living theories on total quality management from educational institutions to government agency”, he found it interesting in terms of how it could be seen as a contribution to the development of Living Theory into a social movement.  To me this was exciting because my aim was originally only to communicate the idea of how video games like Pac-Man could be used for extracting insights from Living Theory accounts without necessarily seeing the larger picture about the social movement.  Nevertheless, by making it easier to interpret Living Theories through game theory structures, it would certainly become easier to communicate insights from accounts across widely different fields, so I agree that seeing this in the context of the making of a social movement is indeed a tremendously important point. 

However, I then made the mistake of changing the title of the paper from “Using the Pac-Man game for translating living theories on total quality management from educational institutions to government agency” into “Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research”.  While the original title explains what the paper was all about, the new title was about the implications of the paper.  As I see by reading your comments, this was a fundamental mistake as it gives the reader a totally wrong impression on what to expect.

I have now chosen a new title “Evaluation of the Pac-Man game as a tool for extracting structural insights from Living Theory accounts” to emphasise that the “two big ideas” that I want to explore are (1) the readability of Living Theory accounts and (2) the Pac-Man game as a translation tool.

On the other hand, when it comes to your expectations for the reading-journey, I agree.  The intent was indeed that the paper was written for an audience that is familiar with Living Theories but less familiar with Pac-Man.  It was written with the intent of having people with background in Living Theory research ask themselves what can be gained from game theory, educational game studies and in particular what I say about the Pac-Man model.

Moira: The Abstract, however, apart from the final sentence, doesn’t offer an overview of the paper, but argues through some complex ideas instead. It’s important, I feel, to offer the reader a framework into which the ideas can become more articulate through their explicit structuring. 

Petter: I would not agree that the abstract does not offer an overview of the paper, as the argument is indeed a summary of the paper.  However, I agree that it perhaps got unnecessary complex due to the way I spend too much of the abstract on the motivational part (about social movement) and too little on the essence of the paper which has to do with the experiment on how to develop necessary Pac-Man skills for translating Living Theory accounts.  Inspired by your quote from Oliver Wendel Holmes about reaching simplicy on the other side of complexity, I have now rewritten the abstract from scratch.

Moira: In the Introduction, similarly, I couldn’t see the signposting that would help me to navigate through your text. At a simple level I was expecting something similar to: ‘first I will do this, and then I will do this and from this point I will’…’and this will show etc.. Then you make an assumption which I believe isn’t sufficiently argued or substantiated and that is about the equation – as you present it – between TQM and Living Theory, as if such a connection already exists sufficiently to be theorised about. I am not sure this is the case and it needs qualifying in some way so that it’s clearer.

In addition, you don’t state the intentions of the paper until p. 3 when you write:

The aim of the study is to investigate this WikiHow strategy as a means for becoming competent at Pac-Man and thus be able to translate Living Theory studies of TQM implementation from one context to another.

Perhaps this needed to be placed right at the beginning in order for the reader to be able to follow the purposes and processes of the text.

Petter: I think the introduction became too complex when I tried to make use of Living Theory as Social Movement as a motivational factor.  I have now rewritten this chapter completely.  The introduction now follows a sequence of three steps, as follows:

First the paper is motivated by the belief that TQM Living Theory could be used for solving the problem that about 80% of all TQM efforts fail, if it had not been for the fact that it can be difficult to understand how a TQM living theory account from one domain can or should be understood in the context of a different domain.

Secondly, I point out that game scholars have suggested using video games as a way of translating skill-oriented insights from one domain to another, and I suggest how I could test this idea in the context of Living Theories by trying to extract insights from Whitehead’s Living Theory account in my own account by way of how I have previously written about Pac-Man.  I then explain the Pac-Man idea for the Living Theory audience.

Thirdly, I point out that making use of video game models requires skills at playing, so what I want to find out is how much time and effort is needed in order to develop this level of skill by following a learning strategy like the WikiHow strategy.  This exposition leads to the “aim of the study” sentence you refer to above, and I conclude the introduction by giving a structural overview of the paper.

Moira: In the main body of the text there is are too many pages given over to the description of the Pac-Man video game and your own specific attempts both to master the skills and see the connections. However, I feel that much of this description of how the game works would have been better off in an Appendix, with your description and explanation for the mastery of the game and consequent connections to be made with LT presented as a process of living-theory itself as the whole purpose of your paper. Pip mentioned this in her reviews on the Community Space and you responded by suggesting you were going to look at her – and Jack’s – responses and then submit your paper for review. It doesn’t seem to me that you’ve done this sufficiently at all in terms of the sheer length of your descriptions. At the moment, Living Theory – and particularly Living Theory as a social movement - seems to come second to your absorption in the Pac-Man video game.

And I think this over-writing of the descriptions without making overt connections to their relevance to your title (which is about looking at Living Theory as a social movement through a new lens) is a major imbalance within the paper.

This would need to be ironed out before I would be willing to recommend it for publication in EJOLTS.

Petter: It is true that Pip suggested that the main part of the paper could be slimmed down by moving much into an appendix (Friday, 30 October 2015), but my response was not that I agreed to this being a good idea.  On the contrary, my response (Monday, 2 November 2015) was that I was getting the impression that she was reading my paper as a “LET account”, which it was clearly NOT, and I was indeed very reluctant to make the kind of changes she suggested as that would destroy the paper.  She then responded to that it a very nice manner (Wednesday, 4 November 2015), and after further discussion with her and Jack, I was told (Monday, 9 November 2015) that the only thing that needed to be updated before they could recommend it for review process was a reference to social movement in the abstract and some specific comments in the final part of the conclusions that I have added exactly as suggested.

Please remember that this is not a “LET account”. It is a study of using the WikiHow strategy for becoming sufficiently skilled at Pac-Man for the purpose of using the video game to translate between LET accounts.  This is something Pip and I discussed a lot on the Community Space; the difference between “LET account” and “LET research”.  In retrospect I wonder if it had been easier to set the kind of expectations I had been hoping for if I had submitted the paper as a “theoretical paper”.  In a sense it is a strictly theoretical paper concerning itself with methods of extracting insights for LET accounts and categorising them.  But, it is not really a theoretical paper.  It is an empirical paper aiming to suggest how much time and effort is needed for becoming sufficiently proficient at Pac-Man for making use of the model as a translation tool between LET accounts.

When I apply the method of action research as means of researching “how can I improve my practice as a Pac-Man player”, this is more like a simulation study than Living Theory action research.  It is not based on any value judgements beyond my need for developing a sufficient level of skill and it is evaluated by numerical measurements rather than by some group of critical colleagues.  There is no need for having a validation group or anybody making subjective comments on how I am developing as a Pac-Man player as the necessary feedback is provided by the time chart that is investigated through the use of logarithmic regression.

All of this is described in detail, trying to follow Einstein’s “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.  However, I can understand your reaction as this is technical writing that is necessary for the purpose of testing the WikiHow strategy rather than a biographical story about somebody making efforts to live out his values of love, cooperation, justice and so on.  The Pac-Man self-improvement study is not emotional or biographical like that at all.  It is a technical study of learning how to play Pac-Man with the intent of using the Pac-Man model as a tool for translating insights from these kind of fascinating biographies, from one context into the other, like how I see similarities between Jack’s experiences in the educational institutions and my own in the government agency.

The only way I can think of to “iron out” the relationship between the title of the research paper and the content of the paper, as I see it, is by way of admitting that the title was poorly chosen. 

Moira: There is another imbalance is also discernible in some of your use of language such as on p. 30 completely out of place in EJOLTS. You write:

“The autobiographical story told by Øgland (2013) is similar to Whitehead’s story in many ways. Like Whitehead he is trying to help a group of people to develop as responsible professionals by living according to his ideals of care, trust and workplace democracy while observing how such ideals are often difficult to follow when they are inconsistent with the values expressed by the institution itself. He consequently tells a story about implementing TQM through the use of critical theory for the purpose of aiding members of the organisation against institutional oppression.”

Whether or not your intention is conscious, this kind of writing (putting ‘the researcher’ instead of ‘I’) goes way beyond the merely linguistic. The researcher in such an account is ‘out there, distant, not personally identified with’. ‘I’, on the other hand, as the narrator of the action and reflection, takes responsibility for the words on the page and the living meanings behind them. This is a fundamental problem with this paper, to my mind. It is also something that Pip commented on in her responses to your earlier submission.

Why do I see this as such a problem? Your use of the third person places a writer’s view of knowledge and theorising as remote from the author’s, i.e. from yours. Yet you are central to this whole process. This is your paper, your processes, your ideas, your originality and creativity, throughout. The way you’re writing about it is as something ungrounded in living relationships and values and developing over time (Laidlaw, 1996). Yet you have an intention: to make connections in order to facilitate deeper learning, not only in others, but also in yourself. Using the apparently safe, and objective title of ‘the researcher’, you miss out on a closer analysis and synthesis that would have been possible if you had included as central your own processes of learning.

Petter: The use of ‘the researcher’ rather than ‘I’ is something I discussed with Pip on the Community Space, and the point is the same that I have been trying to make over and over again.  In a paper like this, when I focus on making theoretical or methodological contributions to Living Theory practice, the aim of the study is not to develop Living Theory about my own practice.  The aim of the study is to investigate the WikiHow strategy for learning how to play Pac-Man at a level where it becomes possible to use the video game model as a tool for extracting structural insights from a LET account to be used in another account.  When I refer to ‘the researcher’ rather than ‘I’ in this context, it is exactly because I want to place myself in the background as something ‘out there, distant, no personally identified with’, as you say, while the Pac-Man model as a research tool occupies the central place of attention.

If I had submitted a paper called “A living theory account of trying to implement total quality management by mean of critical systems thinking”, and then kept on referring to myself as ‘the researcher’ rather than ‘I’, then I would agree with you that this would be problematic.  However, that would be a completely different type of paper.  Actually, I have also been working on a paper using that particular title, but that is a paper that will build on the ideas presented in this paper, so I need to get this paper published first.  In the case of this paper, I find it highly problematic to refer to myself as ‘I’ as I feel that would imply that I was writing about something that had to do with living relationships, values and developing over time, which is precisely what it is not. 

The very point of the paper is to use a mathematical model (the Pac-Man game) to address LET accounts in an objective manner without living relationships, values and time because I want to use the model for connecting LET accounts that express different living relationships, different values and different developments over time.  In order to discuss values and variation we have to have standards for comparing.  The Pac-Man model is such a standard.  It is just a video game.  It is a thing.  It does not have values, relationships and evolution over time.  The purpose of my paper is to argue that standards like these are important communication standards that we can use for extracting structural insights from reading LET accounts by people we did not expect to have anything in common with and suddenly realise that we may have very much in common indeed. 

This is how I felt when I read Jack Whitehead’s book “The growth of educational knowledge” (1993), and that is how I feel with some of the EJOLTS artices and LET videos I watch on YouTube.  I live in a different world from these people, but still I get touched by their LET accounts, and I want to translate those insights into something that gives meaning to me.  The Pac-Man model is a tool for making such translations, but it comes at a cost, and the purpose of this paper is to investigate this cost.

Moira: I have a rather sweeping suggestion, Petter. I’m proposing you couch the whole paper as your own Living Theory enquiry, i.e. setting up what you wanted to do from your 2009 insights to the present day in terms of your findings about Pac-Man acting as a useful tool in seeing the dimensions of Living Theory as a social movement, with its personal and developmental value to you in terms of making connections both intellectual and experiential. In this account, whose main middle section already has the shape of an action-reflection cycle (McNiff, 2013), you could show the development of growing insights (captured in the title to the paper) about the usefulness to Living Theory of making connections between the learning enabled by engaging in the processes of the Pac-Man video game and Living Theory as a social movement. In this way it could become an original and creative contribution to Living Theory research itself. I also think it would facilitate the readers’ orientation to your stimulating ideas. As it stands your writing sits awkwardly, in my opinion, between an analysis of the Pac-Man game and connections to be made with Living Theory as a social movement. As a result, I am left at the end of the paper not really fully understanding what the paper is for.

Petter: As I mentioned, I am considering a follow-up on the current paper with a paper that is for the present called “A living theory account of trying to implement total quality management by mean of critical systems thinking”, and one way of focusing this paper could be by means of how I focused on the Pac-Man model as a strictly conceptual model in 2009 while I know think of it as a “living model” (i.e. that it is not sufficient only to know what it is but we also need to be skilled at playing it), and tell about my journey from there to here.  However, batching these two ideas together would in my opinion make one bad paper rather than two potentially good ones.

Why is it so important to me to have this paper published in EJOLTS the way it is?  What is the paper for, as you say?  The purpose of the paper is to propose a solution to the problem of how we can translate insights from one LET account into another.  Is this a relevant problem for the EJOLTS community?  I don’t know, but for me it is a relevant problem.  I have read Jack’s 1993 account where he tells stories about how he was fighting institutional oppression and dealing with all kinds of challenges and problems, and I found it an extremely important book because he captured so many of the emotional experiences I have had in my work-life.  Usually we don’t hear the stories of alarmists and people who dare to speak up against authorities, and when we hear such stories it is usually in the shape of how they had to pay the price of loosing the jobs, families, and all sorts of sad consequences.  Jack’s story, however, is different.  It is extremely positive because, as far as I can see, he is one of the few people who got out in the other end of the tunnel as a celebrated hero and the father of a new way of thinking about action research.

I think it would be sad if only those “brainwashed” into the way of doing Living Theory research by means of writing Living Theory accounts were to prevent the rest of the social research community from sharing from these immensely important stories, and thus be prevented from getting enrolled in the Living Theory community where they could help the community evolve into a social movement.  I find it almost paradoxical that some of us almost have to fight getting published in EJOLTS in a similar way as Jack was fighting to get published and have is work recognised in more traditional scientific outlets.

However, I was touched by how Jack responded to my paper on the Community Space, and I see that each and every person I have met at EJOLTS mean well and try to help.  To me it is important to get the current paper published in EJOLTS without having it destroyed in attempts to make it fit into formats that are incompatible with the research question and research method.  What is the paper for, you ask.  The paper is written for EJOLTS with the intent of raising debate about models like the Pac-Man game for extracting structural knowledge from individual LET accounts and to improve communication and understanding.

Moira: In conclusion, there are three areas that need to be reworked before I can recommend publication. Both are concerned with originality and creativity, and readability:

1)     Making your description and explanation of the Pac-Man game as a helpful metaphor for Living Theory as a social movement more overt and clearly spelled out for the reader. This would entail changing the lens through which you’re currently writing – from someone distancing himself from what he is doing, to someone immersing himself in the process and becoming one with it. This would give you insights that an outsider-perspective cannot. Living Theory is created through immersion, not distance, through living rather than theorising about it separately afterwards.

2)   Connected with this would be the judicious pruning of descriptions about the game to an appendix. This would enable deliberations about the significance of the game’s processes as a way of seeing Living Theory as a social movement to take place more upfront. At the moment they appear to be almost afterthoughts.

3)   You need an overt structure by which the reader can navigate their way through your text. You need to let them know the significance of what they’re going to read, what they’re reading and what they’ve read. This isn’t about talking down to your reader, Petter, but helping your reader to cope with some very complex and intricate ideas.

Connected to the overall readability are some examples of technical weaknesses that you need to look at.

Petter: When it comes to your three areas in need of rework, my impression is that they reflect the idea that the body of the paper should be changed to match what you saw as the intent of the title.  As I have said above, I think the title was wrong in the sense that it gave the EJOLTS reader wrong expectations.  When I have now changed the title, change the abstract, change the introduction, changed the conclusion, and made effort in trying to improve some language issues in the rest of the paper, I hope it will be possible to find a path forwards towards publications without having to destroy the paper as it is now.

Concerning the details of your three points, in the first point you describe the Pac-Man model as a metaphor.  This is not what the paper is about.  In my 2009 paper I used the Pac-Man model as a metaphor, but that was not sufficient when we want to learn skills.  The central point of the educational game scholarship is that playing games is learning by simulation.  It is not sufficient just to think of a political scenario as thought it were a Pac-Man game, we also need a certain level of skill at Pac-Man to be able to understand what that means in practice.  An aeroplane pilot needs to spend time with flight simulators before he can be allowed to experiment with real planes.  A flight simulator is not a metaphor.  It is a video game.  In other words, in such a context my research question would be along the lines of how much time and effort does it take to learn how to operate a flight simulator in order to become sufficiently skilled to be able to understand the practice of real flying.  I understand you mean well with your suggestions on how to change the writing style by going from distancing towards immersion, but as I have explained in previous paragraphs, I think this would be the wrong approach considering the nature of this particular type of LET research I describe.

Your second point has to do with moving the technical aspects of the Pac-Man theory and experiments towards an appendix in order to make it easier to understand the study as a LET account.  As I have explained above, my LET research is not a LET account, and I cannot see how moving any aspects of the central part of the paper into an appendix could do anything but reducing the quality of the paper and ultimately destroy it with respect to what it is trying to communicate.

Your third point is that I need an overt structure that makes it easier for the reader to navigate through the text.  To me this comment explains the previous two comments.  As you point out in the beginning of your review, the title gave the reader certain expectations of what the paper was about, and the abstract and introduction were not sufficiently helpful for making the paper easy to read.  As a consequence of this, I have change the title, rewritten the abstract and rewritten the introduction in a manner that I believe should improve make the paper easier to understand.

Included is a revised version of the manuscript.  I feel I have something important to contribute to the EJOLTS community with this paper, and my hope is that the conversation we are having as part of the review process will gradually help to convince you, Moira, and the rest of the review team that the paper has been written with a particular style and structured in a particular manner for the purpose of presenting the ideas and results it contains in an effective manner.  My hope is that the paper can be recommended for publication without making the adjustments described in your summary points 1 and 2, as I feel the rationale behind those adjustments are based on a misunderstanding of what the paper aims to do, and that we can reach agreement that the current style and structure is the type of style and structure that is most useful for this kind of LET research (summary point 3).

This is a paper I have spent almost two years writing for the single purpose of having it published in EJOLTS, as I believe it makes an important contribution to Living Theory methodology, so if it were to be rejected (heaven forbid!!!) I would like to have it rejected on grounds of there being no interest in the problem of translating LET accounts, or that my suggested solution of using game theory for addressing this problem being unacceptable for some I reason I can understand, but I would be extremely disappointed if I were told that this was interesting and important “LET research” but unfortunately unpublishable as it was not presented in the format of a traditional “LET account”.

Best regards,

Petter


Picture of Mark Potts
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Mark Potts - Friday, 5 February 2016, 8:17 AM
 

Hi Petter

Apologies for my tardiness in posting my review.

As I read your paper, I am striving to understand the scope and focus of the article. Checking my own interpretation. Your study seems tobe operating on many levels:

First we have the analysis of Wiki How and single and double loop learning. Then we have the application of that learning technique to the game PAC MAN. From there we move to PAC MAN strategy as a metaphor for survival in a public institution where personal values may conflict with institutional values. In your case this is in the context of your implementation of TQM as a set of quality control techniques into a public organisation.

All of this is very interesting and provides an insight in to the tension between personally held values and institutional values. It also provides an intriguing way of dealing with or managing that tension, ie, through the PAC MAN gaming metaphor.

But I was left wondering where you are in all of this. The person was missing. For me, iving educational theory accounts are personal, whilst also being educational for others. So whilst your account was educational I found that it lacked the personal narrative.  

In sections 4 and 5.1 a great deal of the account is about how effective Wiki How is as a learning strategy for PAC MAN. This does not sufficiently address what is for me the central question of the study, how an action research approach can be useful in mastering a gaming situation and how insights from such an approach can be used to reconcile the contradictory values that often reside in the workplace? I have indicated with comments through the paper where I feel the narrative falls down as a living theory account and where I feel you should put more emphasis.

The hypothesis is an intriguing one and I can see from Sections 5.2 onwards the potential for the paper to be a useful addition to the living educational theory body of work.

Please find the paper attached with my comments.

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 5 February 2016, 12:47 PM
 

Hi Mark,

Thank you very much for your comments, both the ones with sticky notes inside the paper and the summary and reflection you provide in your post.  I notice that Marie has made some comments as Chair of the EJOLTS Editorial Board that may affect the review process, but I would nevertheless like to comment on your input.

You are right about the paper operating on more than one level.  The way the Pac-Man model relates to Living Theory is primarily on the motivations and implications level.  At the very beginning and very end of the paper I claim that Pac-Man model may be used for extracting structural insights from Living Theory accounts and make use of these in action research studies on how to develop TQM, but this is essentially on the motivational and further-research level.  The study itself deals with the issue of how much cost and effort is needed for becoming sufficiently proficient at Pac-Man for the purpose of using the Pac-Man model in such a Living Theory context.

So, the study is essentially a self-study where I observe myself playing Pac-Man, asking the question ‘how can I improve my competence at Pac-Man’, and evaluating the results through the five-level approach defined in the literature.   The operational research question is thus of similar kind to ‘how do I improve my work practice’, but it is only after achieving competence at the level of (1) mastering the controls, (2) understanding the rules, (3) finding good strategies, and (4) understanding the game from a design perspective that I start addressing the central Living Theory questions, namely (5) how can the Pac-Man model be used for representing social reality.

In other words, it is primarily when addressing this fifth level of learning that the Living Theory research presented in the paper becomes a Living Theory account.  It is at this stage that the action research would have to become personal in the sense of trying out in the real world what happens when using the Pac-Man model as a lens for understanding social reality and observing what this does to my interaction with people in the context of trying to implement TQM.

Nevertheless, writing such a paper would be something quite different.  First I would need to publish the paper I have submitted in order to explain the process of Pac-Man practice, and then I would forget about the game practice in the new paper and rather describe what happens when I use the present understanding of the Pac-Man models as means for interacting in the real world.

So, this is the reason why you don’t see so much of me as a person in this paper.  As a person in this paper I am somebody who spends 4-5 minutes practicing Pac-Man every morning.  That is not a very personal thing.  It is more like a what Herman Ebbinghaus did in the 1880s when he was doing self-experiments on learning nonsense syllables and making forgetting curves based on how long he managed to remember the input.  In a way, my logarithmic learning curves used for expressing my increase in Pac-Man skill are similar to those curves, so the experiments are similar.  I don’t think you find any more of me in this Pac-Man paper than you would find of Ebbinghaus in his book on memory studies based on experimental psychology.

The difference, however, and why I consider my research as Living Theory research while I do not see Ebbinghaus’ study as research into Living Theory, is by way of how I am experimenting with the Pac-Man model as a tool to be used when going about researching questions like ‘how can I improve my TQM implementation practice through the use of the Pac-Man model’.  However, in order to research this question, I first need to understand the level of time and effort needed for mastering the Pac-Man game.

In other words, the submitted Pac-Man paper is of fundamental importance for me in my Living Theory research as it addresses characteristics of the theoretical model that I aim to use for writing the Living Theory account.  I don’t know if you have used educational video games as a teacher, but if you have then I assume that must first have tested out the game on yourself before you introduced it to class.  Now, the interesting Living Theory account in such a context I would assume to be something along the lines of ‘how can I improve my teaching practice by use of video games’, but before researching that question you would need to know something about what video game to use and how much time and effort it would take you to become proficient at the game and thus understand the skills the game is designed to teach.  This is the level where I am now, and that is what my paper is about.

Best regards,

Petter

 

 


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Marie Huxtable - Friday, 5 February 2016, 10:26 AM
 

 

Hi Petter

 

I have been following the progress of your paper in the open review space and enjoyed learning from the postings, which have been interesting and productive.  However, I am now getting a sense of a conversation that is stuck, stalled and going round in circles accompanied by feelings of frustration by all involved, and feel as chair of the EJOLTS editorial board I should step in.

 

To summarize the current position:

 

You communicate clearly about Pac-man and your claim that becoming an expert in learning to play Pac-man could:

  • ·      help people learning to deal with real-world problems
  • ·      enable individuals to identify and translate insights from an interesting Living Theory account into their own situation and
  • ·      contribute to an individual’s generation of their living-educational-theory, and hence contribute to Living Theory research.

 

Most members of your review team and the editorial board have been engaged in reading and responding to your writings to help you fulfill the criteria for publication as detailed on http://ejolts.net/submission. Reading your current writings I cannot see where your paper meets these criteria. For example in your posting, you say:

 

"An aeroplane pilot needs to spend time with flight simulators before he can be allowed to experiment with real planes.  A flight simulator is not a metaphor.  It is a video game.  In other words, in such a context my research question would be along the lines of how much time and effort does it take to learn how to operate a flight simulator in order to become sufficiently skilled to be able to understand the practice of real flying."

 

There is a claim here – that learning in a flight simulator improves the ability of a person to learn to fly a real plane.  Evidence would be needed to show that a flight simulator actually enables a trainee pilot to learn to fly quicker and better than s/he otherwise would do.

 

You are making a parallel claim – people can learn to deal with real-life problems quicker and better than they would do without learning to play Pac-man. You need evidence to support that claim. That would make you paper a very interesting paper for a psychology journal. There is a leap you are making that would need careful unpicking – a flight simulator that trainee pilots learn in is that – a simulator of the real experience, which gives trainee pilots an experience of being in a cockpit flying a plane, without suffering the consequences of actually being thousands of feet up in the air. Learning to play Pac-man is a long way from providing a learning experience in a simulator of a real-life problem but that is taking me off the point.

 

For your paper to be publishable in EJOLTs you need to provide evidence to support your claim that learning to play Pac-man has helped someone to draw on accounts of living-theories in the creation of their own, more effectively than if they hadn’t learned to play Pac-man proficiently. At the moment, your paper lacks this essential ingredient. How you present your paper is not the issue: the issue is that evidence of the educational influence in learning, of someone developing proficiency at playing Pac-man, is not provided.

 

I can appreciate your frustration having worked long and hard on your paper but as chair of the editorial board I have to reiterate that for the editorial board to consider accepting a paper for publication in EJOLTS it must fulfill the criteria for publication, which includes an explanation of educational influence in learning. Should you decide to submit a paper again please read carefully what is written on http://ejolts.net/submission and be sure that you can point us to where in your paper you meet the criteria for publishing in EJOLTS, and particularly where you include explanation/s or educational influences in learning and evidence to support your claims.  

 

You might find it helpful to listen to http://insideeducation.podbean.com/e/programme-240-jack-whitehead-on-living-theoryaction-research-pt-1-27-1-16/ to get further on the inside of Living Theory research.

 

Very best wishes

 

 

Marie

(Chair EJOLTS Editorial Board)


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 26 February 2016, 4:25 PM
 

Dear Marie,

I am sorry about not being able to respond earlier, but I have been trying to think about what I have been doing wrong on this open review process as I have such difficulty communicating the value of my research - and the importance of it being written in the format that I have already given it - despite the endorsements I got from the Community Space.

Due to my failure to communicate clearly, I understand how you had to intervene in the review process.  If I were in your position, I would probably have done the same when I felt that valuable resources were being wasted on a process that was going in circles, apparently leading nowhere.

Also, it seems to me that I have been interpreting the submission guidelines (http://ejolts.net/submission) in a way that may be different from how they were intended.  For instance, look at the following passage somewhere near the top of the page:

Although we prefer practitioners' accounts, we are open to different forms of expression from contributors who stand firmly in their lives for the life-affirming values that help others and make the world a better place for all peoples.

To me this appears to open up for the kind of contribution that I want to make to EJOLTS, namely Living Theory research that is not formulated as a Living Theory account.  On the other hand, I do not want to go on discussing in circles, as you say.  I still believe the Pac-Man paper makes an important contribution to Living Theory, and I would very much like to have it published in EJOLTS, more or less as it is now, but I can see that I need some assistance in arguing the importance of the paper by why of how it is currently written.

I also notice that you respond to some comments I made about how I wanted to describe the Pac-Man model as similar to a flight simulator, in the sense of how they are both designed for presenting a learning environment where the practitioner does not have to put his own life at risk by driving an aeroplane without sufficient training or implementing TQM in hostile organisations without being thrown out, but – as you correctly point out – the paper does not aim to evaluate the simulation model as such, whether we talk about learning to fly or learning to behave in hostile organisations, as the aim of the paper is only to look at the time and effort needed to become sufficiently competent at using the Pac-Man simulator (or flight simulator) before actually testing the new skills in practice.

Unfortunately, I feel that the acceptance requirements reflect what seems to be your impression that I wrote this paper for the purpose of testing out the Pac-Man model in action.  I’m afraid that this was not the purpose of the paper.  What I want to investigate here is the time and effort needed to become sufficiently proficient at Pac-Man for then (in a later paper) to investigate the model in practice.  As I told Mark, the way I investigate the Pac-Man model is in the same way that some teachers might investigate when considering the use educational video games in class.  Before a teacher decides on a particular game, it might be useful to test the game to get an impression of much time and effort is needed for the child to learn arithmetic, French, physics or whatever it is design to teach.  This is what my research is about.  In this situation I am the teacher sitting at home trying to figure out whether a given video game is cost-effective in the sense that it is possible to master the game within reasonable time.  Unlike the teacher, however, I am not proficient in what the game is trying to teach.  So, in a way, you might say I am like a student trying to evaluate a video game for learning French without having any background in French myself.

However, as we seem to have reached a kind of dead-lock in this review process, I have been spending the last five weeks writing a paper about what I think I have been doing wrong during the process, thus trying to learn something from the experience so far, and if it is okay with you, I will ask Pip and Jack on the Community Space if they could please comment on this paper and mentor me in how I can get back on track and contribute in the this open review without frustrating people or making the discussions go in circles.

I hope this is okay with you.  I have the greatest admirations for EJOLTS and I very much want to be a contributing member, but as I am clearly not fully socialised into the EJOLTS community yet, I still need some assistance and mentoring from people who see the value of my research while also seeing that I need some assistance in figuring out how to communicate the ideas to the EJOLTS community as a whole.

 

Very best regards,

Petter

 


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Marie Huxtable - Sunday, 28 February 2016, 3:30 PM
 

Hi Petter - delighted you are still here. You have enabled us to see an ambiguity in the wording on the site, which we will try to remedy soon. Your thought of continuing the discussion for now with Jack and Pip in the Community Space is a good one. They will both get into the space soon. Looking forward to seeing what emerges from the conversation and hope it will give you plenty to smile about. Marie

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Monday, 29 February 2016, 11:44 AM
 

Hi Marie - thank you for your kind words. I look forward to discuss with Pip and Jack, and I hope to gain ideas on how to proceed with the open review of Pac-Man paper after listening to some of their views.

Kind regards,

Petter

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Friday, 1 April 2016, 3:03 PM
 

Dear Marie, Moira, Peter, Mark and all,

As you all made me realise, the Pac-Man paper was not as easily digestible for an EJOLTS audience as I had anticipated.  Even though the paper was written as Living Theory research, trying to address points that several of you mentioned as relevant, the insights from the paper were of such a kind that I found it difficult to format the paper as a living-theory account.  I consequently spent time and effort trying to argue the point that “surely, not all Living Theory research has to be written as a living-theory account”, as I had previously done on the Community Space, but the process seemed to go in circles, probably causing frustrations for everyone involved, so I can understand that Marie saw a need to step in.

This intervention made me realise that a better strategy for arguing my point that “surely, not all Living Theory research has to be written as a living-theory account”, would probably be to write the argument in the shape of Living Theory research written as a living-theory account, and submit it for review and publication at EJOLTS.  Not only was I personally motivated to do so, in order to figure out how to proceed with the Pac-Man paper, but I was also motivated by Pip having quoted my statement in her editorial for the current EJOLTS issue (Vol 8, No 2, p. vi) as an important issue.

So, what I did was to write a living-theory account of what I have learned from the experience of trying to submit the Pac-Man paper for review and publication.  Essentially it is a study of my own incompetence in trying to argue the value of the Pac-Man paper, but it is researched in the context of ‘how can I improve my own practice as a writer’ by focusing on my own learning as I try to contribute to own Living Educational Theory by collaborating with members on the EJOLTS forums.  To make sure I will not bother the editor and review team in presenting another paper that does not live up to expectations, I have presented a draft version of the manuscript at the Community Space.  Both Pip and Jack have now given me very good feedback and support.  Although they both believed it could be submitted for review as it is, I will still make some final adjustments based on these helpful conversations.  My plan is thus to submit the new paper within a week or so, in the hope that it will be accepted for review and ready for publication for the upcoming edition of EJOLTS.

If it is acceptable by the editor and review team, I hope we can keep the review of the Pac-Man paper on hold while the other paper has been dealt with, as I will then be in a better position to understand how to proceed with the Pac-Man research.

 

Best regards,

Petter

 


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Saturday, 22 July 2017, 2:37 PM
 

Dear Marie, Moira, Mark and Branko,

I am sorry about the delay, but now I have reworked the Pac-Man paper according to what Marie requested in her previous mail from the open review, and I have also tried as best as I could to follow the advice and suggestions made by Moira and Mark.  While the open review process went into stasis before Branko was able to add his comments on the initial paper, I have had discussions with Branko since this, and the revised paper includes references to some of these discussions.  The inputs to the open review process from Peter and Pip have also been very useful.

As you will see when looking at the revised Pac-Man paper, it is very different from the initial version.  Not only have I now written the paper by using the first-person convention, and focused more explicitly on values and living contradictions, but I have also removed all the parts about developing Pac-Man skills by playing and keeping track of the score.  Instead, I have done as Marie suggested, namely to focus on the use of Pac-Man skills as means for doing social interventions in the real world.  This means that the paper is greatly expanded in this direction, which also means that the theory, the interventions, the discussion and the conclusions have been rewritten correspondingly.

To make sure the current version of the paper is more in alignment with the usual expectations of an EJOLTS article, I presented the paper for comments on the EJOLTS Community Space a couple of weeks ago, just to inform about the process and make sure potential problems with the text could be detected and adjusted before I put it back into the open review.  However, as there have been no comments on the community forum so far, I feel I have done all I can to make sure that the revised version you receive here is the absolutely best I could do.

I look forward to review comments and discussions that I hope will guide the paper forwards towards publication.


Best regards,

Petter


(Edited by Marie Huxtable - original submission Friday, 7 July 2017, 8:52 AM)

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Thursday, 20 July 2017, 1:47 PM
 

Dear all,

I write this just to avoid confusion.  The paper I resubmitted on 7 July 2017 was a revised version of the Pac-Man paper we have been discussing in this review process, although it has now been completely rewritten according to the following feedback from Marie on 2 Feb 2016:

For your paper to be publishable in EJOLTs you need to provide evidence to support your claim that learning to play Pac-man has helped someone to draw on accounts of living-theories in the creation of their own, more effectively than if they hadn’t learned to play Pac-man proficiently. At the moment, your paper lacks this essential ingredient. How you present your paper is not the issue: the issue is that evidence of the educational influence in learning, of someone developing proficiency at playing Pac-man, is not provided.

The revised paper is still about the Pac-Man model, but now the focus is completely different, to meet the requirements Marie presented above.  In other words, it is a paper that starts with declaration of values, describes the situation of feeling like a living contraction, explains how the idea of using the Pac-Man model may be useful for overcoming the challenge, documents an empirical test of this idea in real-life, discusses the results and concludes with learning and ideas for further research.

The paper was resubmitted directly into this open review process as I believed that was the right thing to do (rather than submitting it as a new paper), which is also what I said I planned to do in the comments from 29 Feb 2016 and 1 Apr 2016 above.  However, to make sure that the revised paper would be received as a bona fide living-theory account, I also presented it at the community forum for feedback before entering it here.  As there were no comments on the community forum, I took that as a good sign.

However, as I got some private comments concerning my reference to Branko in the previous message, I want to explain that the only reason I mentioned Branko was because I was under the impression that the review team consisted of Moira, Mark and Branko (cf. the initial message of this open review, 15 Dec 2015), and while I wanted to say that I had taken the points made by Moira and Mark seriously when rewriting the paper, there are no comments from Branko in the review trail above.  However, as I had been engaged in some conversations with Branko outside of the review process, I wanted to add that I had also considered ideas and comments I had received from him.

In retrospect I realise that this comment could mislead people into believing that Branko had encouraged me to rewrite and re-enter the paper, but this was not so.  The decision to rewrite and re-enter the Pac-Man paper was my own decision without any influence from others beyond reacting to the helpful comments I have gotten in the review process so far and supplementary comments from the community space.

To me there is something unique about the way Living Theory research is built around values like love, compassion and understanding.  The philosophy of science used for underpinning this research is quite different from the way I usually think about science, but I strongly believe that values like love need more attention in our presently turbulent world of climate crisis, economic crisis, international terrorism and rise of populist right-wing extremism.  Although I was not able to rewrite the Pac-Man paper into a paper about love, while I am waiting for response and feedback I have started drafting a quite different paper were love plays a more prominent part, but that is hopefully something I will be able to submit through conventional channels at a later stage.

To me, the idea of thinking about Living Theory research as a social movement is an attractive idea, and it is a movement I want to be part of.  For this reason, I hope you all are able to see how I have been struggling with the concept of Living Theory research for the past couple of years, and how this revised version of the Pac-Man paper reflects an understanding of Living Theory research that I believe should be more consistent with the type of research that usually gets published here.  Still, my main reason for becoming a researcher was to discuss and learn, so I will be happy as long as I get review feedback that can help me develop myself as a Living Theory researcher and hopefully end up being recognised as a part of the Living Theory social movement.


Best wishes,

Petter

 


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Marie Huxtable - Saturday, 22 July 2017, 2:43 PM
 

Hi Petter

 

I am sorry if there was a misunderstanding. Your review team comprised Mark, Peter and Moira. Branko was not available. Others have contributed, including Jack, Moira and Pip either in the EJOLTs Open Review Space or the EJOLTs Community Space. I am not aware that Branko was a member of your review team at any time and he and you confirm that he has only had private conversations with you.

 

The paper you have put here is, as you say ‘… very different from the initial version’ and constitutes a new paper rather than a redraft of the previous one. I have consulted with the Editorial Board and have to inform you that we do not accept it for review.

 

There are concerns about the ethics of doing “undercover action research” in general, and in the particular situation you are in, as you describe in the paper:

 

        As I have been told that my job title (research scientist) at the client-organisation3 will be redefined and I will not be allowed to do any form of research, the solution          I want to investigate is to carry out “undercover” action research by means of performing tasks associated with action research without describing it as research.


        3 Following the convention of Davison et al (2004), I use the term ”client organisation” as a reference to the organisation where the action research is carried out, to           distinguish between the client and the research community, even though in this case the client organisation is my own organisation.

 

This is very different to the situation you often refer to where someone is employed by a university as an academic and researcher. You draw explicitly in your paper on your relationships at work when your employers have clearly stated that you are not permitted to do research in your workplace. It is because of this ethical concern I am removing this paper from the open review space and the community space.

 

The paper also does not meet the criteria for accepting for review. Despite considerable time and effort devoted over a very extended period by yourself and many members of the EJOLTs Editorial Board and reviewers this paper shows no development in your understanding of Living Theory research in practice or theory. Second there are doubts about the academic and scholarly quality of your paper. Where you draw on work I am familiar with I know you have misattributed or misrepresented ideas and work. Just two instances to illustrate: in this paper you allude to Moyra Evans having written a Ph.D. interfused with the 'Ancient Mariner' poem, which she makes no reference to: the Ancient Mariner is in Moira Laidlaw’s doctoral thesis; in another paper you submitted you wrote, ‘Despite Living Theory action researchers having indicated interest in game theory by means of reviewing books on game theory research (Delong, 2014)…’ (Delong, J. (2014). Review of Daniel Kahneman’s book (2013) “Thinking, fast and slow”, EJOLTS, 7(2), 121-122. http://ejolts.net/node/237.) Kahneman’s book is not about game theory and the review makes no reference to it. This gives me concerns about the academic and scholarly quality of your paper when you draw on work that I am not familiar with.

 

I wonder whether Living Theory research is not an appropriate methodology for you. I would strongly urge you to consider whether you might find it a more profitable use of your time to write papers to submit to journals more aligned to your interests, such as journals that publish papers concerned with Critical Theory, TQM, or Gaming Theory. If you do, please look carefully at the academic and scholarly quality of your papers and give very careful consideration to the ethics of what you are trying to publish.

 

Marie

(on behalf of the EJOLTs Editorial Board)


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Sunday, 23 July 2017, 11:32 AM
 

Dear Marie,

Thank you for your comments.

I am sorry if there was a misunderstanding. Your review team comprised Mark, Peter and Moira. Branko was not available. Others have contributed, including Jack, Moira and Pip either in the EJOLTs Open Review Space or the EJOLTs Community Space. I am not aware that Branko was a member of your review team at any time and he and you confirm that he has only had private conversations with you.

Thank you for explaining how the original review team consisted of Mark, Branko and Moira and how Branko was replaced with Peter when he was not available.  My references to Branko was due to a misunderstanding on my part, as his name popped up in the initial list of reviewers (reproduced in the very first message in this review thread), but when you mention it, I may remember getting a private mail saying that the original review team was changed.  I am sorry about that.

Nevertheless, as you point out, I got some comments on the paper by Branko through private conversation, which was useful.  I am also very happy for the review comments I got from Mark, Peter and Moira.  Peter was particularly kind and helpful in joining the conversation on the EJOLTS community forum where I also had useful conversations with Jack and Pip.

The paper you have put here is, as you say ‘… very different from the initial version’ and constitutes a new paper rather than a redraft of the previous one. I have consulted with the Editorial Board and have to inform you that we do not accept it for review.

There are concerns about the ethics of doing “undercover action research” in general, and in the particular situation you are in, as you describe in the paper:

“As I have been told that my job title (research scientist) at the client-organisation3 will be redefined and I will not be allowed to do any form of research, the solution I want to investigate is to carry out “undercover” action research by means of performing tasks associated with action research without describing it as research.

3 Following the convention of Davison et al (2004), I use the term ‘client organisation’ as a reference to the organisation where the action research is carried out, to distinguish between the client and the research community, even though in this case the client organisation is my own organisation.”

This is very different to the situation you often refer to where someone is employed by a university as an academic and researcher. You draw explicitly in your paper on your relationships at work when your employers have clearly stated that you are not permitted to do research in your workplace. It is because of this ethical concern I am removing this paper from the open review space and the community space.

I agree that it is possible to see the revised paper as a new paper, but this is because the final feedback I got in the review was that it was not acceptable for publication in its previous shape, and my rewriting is a direct response to what you said about testing out the Pac-Man model in an empirical setting and so on.  I don’t understand how I could have responded to that previous request without dramatically rewriting it in a style similar to what I have done now.

When it comes to the point about rejecting the paper because of the ethical issues surrounding the research, I want to point out that the central theme of the paper was exactly this ethical dilemma, which I also address in the discussion section with references to works on ethics in action research.  I agree there are challenges in the situation, but that is why I have written the paper, namely to add to a discussion on what to do in circumstances like this, and the solution I propose is my contribution to the debate.

I am not sure why you bring up the footnote to the paper by Davison et al where I explain why I use the term “client organisation” for referring to the place of my employment (as a senior scientist, although I have been told that my title will be changed) and how I need to distinguish this from my association with the University of Oslo as a visiting researcher.  As I explain at the very beginning of the paper, I have two employers, and it is the conflicting nature and culture of the two organisations that I use when declaring my values and my feeling of being a living contradiction.

In my understanding, the dilemmas and situations I describe in this paper are far less controversial than the dilemmas and situations described in “The Growth of Learning” (Whitehead, 1993), which is the book I repeatedly return to for inspiration, so I feel a bit sad when the paper is rejected by questioning the morality of the approach without commenting on the way I discuss the problem of how to deal with situations like this and offer my own solution as a contribution for debate.  What would you or others from the editorial board have done if you were in my situation?  As I point out in the paper, I have discussed the situation with a couple of academics, and neither of them could give me clear advice beyond saying that a situational judgement is required.  For me, it is a difficult dilemma, and that is why I have written the paper.

The paper also does not meet the criteria for accepting for review. Despite considerable time and effort devoted over a very extended period by yourself and many members of the EJOLTs Editorial Board and reviewers this paper shows no development in your understanding of Living Theory research in practice or theory.

I am sad to hear that you see no development in my understanding of Living Theory research in practice or theory.  I expected you may have noticed that I have tried to write the paper by starting with a declaration of values, trying to show how I struggle with living these values in practice, how I imagined a way to overcome the problem, how I implement this solution and reflect on the results with respect to theory and practice.  I also spend time discussing the way I wrote about the Pac-Man model in the initial version of the paper as a conceptual model and how I am in this version writing about Pac-Man skills from a phenomenological perspective.

Second there are doubts about the academic and scholarly quality of your paper. Where you draw on work I am familiar with I know you have misattributed or misrepresented ideas and work. Just two instances to illustrate: in this paper you allude to Moyra Evans having written a Ph.D. interfused with the 'Ancient Mariner' poem, which she makes no reference to: the Ancient Mariner is in Moira Laidlaw’s doctoral thesis; in another paper you submitted you wrote, ‘Despite Living Theory action researchers having indicated interest in game theory by means of reviewing books on game theory research (Delong, 2014)…’ (Delong, J. (2014). Review of Daniel Kahneman’s book (2013) “Thinking, fast and slow”, EJOLTS, 7(2), 121-122. http://ejolts.net/node/237.) Kahneman’s book is not about game theory and the review makes no reference to it. This gives me concerns about the academic and scholarly quality of your paper when you draw on work that I am not familiar with.

The quote about the ‘Ancient Mariner’ poem was taken from “You and your action research project” (McNiff & Whitehead, 2010, p. 227), from a section of the book where they discuss drama, poetry, stories etc as vehicles for developing living theory.  In my paper I quote from this passage for the purpose of discussing the role of models in Living Theory research, and while the main argument comes from the way Moyra Evans writes about her “Canterbury Tale” model in a book about Living Theory and TQM in education (Lomax, 1998), I thought the passage from the book by McNiff and Whitehead supplemented the argument, although you are right in pointing out how I blundered by giving Moyra Evans credit to the passage when I can see by checking the page that it was indeed from Moira Laidlaw.  I don’t think I would have gone as far as attacking one of my fellow researchers for lack of scholarship for making a blunder like that, but I admit the error, and I am sorry.

In the version of the Pac-Man paper that was inserted into the review process on 29 Jan 2016, I made a reference to Delong’s review of Daniel Kahneman’s best-seller “Thinking, fast and slow”, and I also mentioned the article in the review trail above (22 Jan 2016) and on the community forum (5 Nov 2015).  Daniel Kahneman is one of the world’s leading authorities on decision theory, game theory and behavioural economics.  His many years of collaboration with Amos Tversky, in studying what game theory predicts and how people act in real situations, resulted in him being given the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics.  As his popular book “Thinking, fast and slow” is written for a lay audience, he does not discuss the technical aspects of his work on decision theory and game theory, but he refers to games, decisions and the nature of his research.  The purpose of referring to Delong’s review of this book was to motivate what I saw as the relevance of game theory within the context of living theory, and I also mentioned other examples such as something Moira Laidlaw said about working with somebody interest gaming (after she explicitly mentioned this example) and a passage from one of the books by McNiff and Whitehead where they discuss the political game of doing research and the importance of establishing win-win situations.  These were quotes or references I used for motivating how my own interest in game theory could be seen to bridge with interests and perspectives already used within the Living Theory community.

I wonder whether Living Theory research is not an appropriate methodology for you. I would strongly urge you to consider whether you might find it a more profitable use of your time to write papers to submit to journals more aligned to your interests, such as journals that publish papers concerned with Critical Theory, TQM, or Gaming Theory. If you do, please look carefully at the academic and scholarly quality of your papers and give very careful consideration to the ethics of what you are trying to publish.

I appreciate your advice, but the problem is that it is difficult to find journals that will accept work for publication that is based on the declaration of values, the experience of feeling like a living contradiction, and reports from the results of trying to do something about his, including the discussion of issues that have to do with the ethics of action research.  So far, EJOLTS is the only journal I have discovered to specialise in this kind of research.

With each rejected paper, I learn something new.  Unfortunately, I do not understand your points about academic and scholarly quality, but I certainly agree that we should all strive to do our best.  As the ethics of action research is one of the central points in the revised Pac-Man paper, research ethics is certainly one of my key concerns, but I can also acknowledge the feedback from the EJOLTS editorial board, although I did not see any specific advice on how to resolve the ethical dilemma I discussed in the paper.

I wonder, Marie, since you see no progress in my attempts to align with the Living Theory research in practice and theory, would it be possible for you to recommend two or three seminal EJOLTS papers (empirical papers) that I could use as models for writing living theory by means of action research?  Perhaps my progress would speed up if I had a couple of canonical examples to work with.

 

Best regards,

Petter


Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research - concluding conversation
by Marie Huxtable - Monday, 24 July 2017, 5:31 PM
 

Hi Petter

I think you point in your posting to why your efforts to publish in EJOLTs have not been successful:

 

First – it would be very inappropriate at best for any journal editorial board to make any response as to how a prospective author might resolve an issue they have with their employer such as the one you point to. You say you have consulted academics and been told quite clearly it is not appropriate for them to comment on.

 

        'What would you or others from the editorial board have done if you were in my situation?  As I point out in the paper, I have discussed the situation with a couple of          academics, and neither of them could give me clear advice beyond saying that a situational judgement is required.  For me, it is a difficult dilemma, and that is why          I have written the paper.'

 

I appreciate you have a difficult dilemma but to write a journal paper in order to get advice or support when you are in a dispute with your employer is inappropriate at best and is not something you can expect a journal editorial board or reviewer to respond to.

 

Second – you have repeatedly intimated over years that you want to get published and want to know how to mould your paper to fit. This is not the same as wanting to develop as a Living Theory researcher and create authentic, valid accounts of your living-theory as contributions to the evolution of an educational knowledgebase. I may be wrong but I believe that is one of the reasons you are making no progress I can discern in developing as a Living Theory researcher: there is not a ‘model’ you can apply to your research to turn it into Living Theory research. Living Theory research is not a game to be played for the purpose of increasing the number of your publications. You ask me to:

 

         ‘… recommend two or three seminal EJOLTS papers (empirical papers) that I could use as models for writing living theory by means of action research?’ 

 

Living Theory research is something you ‘do’ rather than simply ‘write’. You might find it more productive to work on writing action research for one of the many journals devoted to publishing work concerned with Action Research.

 

Third – Living Theory and Action Research are not synonymous. Living Theory researchers rarely focus on one methodology such as Action Research as they exercise their methodological inventiveness in creating their own living-theory and living-theory-methodology. Living Theory researchers usually draw insights from a range of methodological insights from methodologies such as Narrative Inquiry, Phenomenology, Auto-ethnography as well as Action Research in the generation of their living-educational-theory. 

 

Finally, I have the very strong impression you are trying to fit your work into Living Theory research, which therefore makes it an inappropriate methodology for you. From what I have seen of the papers you have submitted I would suggest you look for a methodology more suited to your needs by first thinking about the nature of the question you want to research. One methodology is not better or worse than another any more than a spoon is better than a fork: depends on what you are trying to do; you don’t chose a fork to eat soup and that is what it feels you are trying to do.

 

I believe your efforts to be published might be much more productive if you direct them to getting published in a journal more appropriate to your interests.

 

In conclusion, it feels this conversation has gone as far as it can and is no longer generative or useful. I hope you have success in publishing in a journal more suited to your needs.

 

Marie

-- 

(on behalf of the EJOLTs Editorial Board)


Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research - concluding conversation
by Petter Øgland - Tuesday, 25 July 2017, 12:15 PM
 

Dear Marie,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on why my efforts on trying to get published in EJOLTS have not been successful.

First – it would be very inappropriate at best for any journal editorial board to make any response as to how a prospective author might resolve an issue they have with their employer such as the one you point to. You say you have consulted academics and been told quite clearly it is not appropriate for them to comment on.

'What would you or others from the editorial board have done if you were in my situation? As I point out in the paper, I have discussed the situation with a couple of academics, and neither of them could give me clear advice beyond saying that a situational judgement is required. For me, it is a difficult dilemma, and that is why I have written the paper.'

I appreciate you have a difficult dilemma but to write a journal paper in order to get advice or support when you are in a dispute with your employer is inappropriate at best and is not something you can expect a journal editorial board or reviewer to respond to.

I am afraid I must have expressed myself unclearly.  The point I discussed with the academics was the issue of how to design action research in an ethically appropriate manner given the conditions of my situation.  I was not asking them to give me advice on the problem itself, but I was asking them for advice on how to research the problem.

When I asked the question, 'What would you or others from the editorial board have done if you were in my situation?', I was thinking about the problem of how to design action research within the context I describe.  In both organisations I have a job title as researcher, but in practice it is very difficult to do research, as I explain in the paper.  I am feeling like a living contradiction in a similar way as Jack described himself when he was having his academic struggles.

So, what does a person do in a situation like this?  One answer would be to give up, given the premise that it is unethical to do action research when those in power tell us not to do research.  Jack could also have given in to pressure, but then he would not have been able to write "The Growth of Educational Knowledge" (1993), which is one of the finest books I have ever read.  So, inspired by Jack, I discuss an alternative approach in my paper, trying to distinguish between what is action research and what is change management, and then try to sort this out in a manner which should make the action research ethically sound.

Second – you have repeatedly intimated over years that you want to get published and want to know how to mould your paper to fit. This is not the same as wanting to develop as a Living Theory researcher and create authentic, valid accounts of your living-theory as contributions to the evolution of an educational knowledgebase. I may be wrong but I believe that is one of the reasons you are making no progress I can discern in developing as a Living Theory researcher: there is not a ‘model’ you can apply to your research to turn it into Living Theory research. Living Theory research is not a game to be played for the purpose of increasing the number of your publications. You ask me to:

‘… recommend two or three seminal EJOLTS papers (empirical papers) that I could use as models for writing living theory by means of action research?’

Living Theory research is something you ‘do’ rather than simply ‘write’. You might find it more productive to work on writing action research for one of the many journals devoted to publishing work concerned with Action Research.

I acknowledge this point.  My 25 years of experience as a researcher comes from mainstream social science and engineering science, so there are certain aspects of Living Theory research that I find difficult to grasp.  For instance, when I read Peter Mellet's foreword to the latest edition of EJOLTS, I have difficulty following him in the way he draws a very strict line between Living Theory research and conventional research.  One of the basic premises in all of the four papers I have submitted is that it might be more fruitful to think of propositional theory and living theory as integratable and mutually supportive theories, rather than engaging in a "paradigm war", although I have nothing against others taking part in such wars.

In this sense, I think you are right in observing how I am stuck in my own mental models of what science is and how the scientific method works, thus having difficulties in reading living theory texts without immediately trying to translate them into my own way of thinking.  However, this does not mean that I have not tried.  In fact, when I submitted the revised Pac-Man paper I believed there was a fair chance that the paper would get published.

Your point about moulding research into fitting with Living Theory requirements is also interesting.  My intention of making progress as a Living Theory researcher has not been to reject everything I have previously believed in by converting to Living Theory beliefs.  Quite the contrary, my reasons for being attracted to Living Theory research have to do with how I believe Living Theory research adds an additional dimension to conventional research, thus expanding on the way we understand science rather than changing it completely.  Jack's 1993 account of his PhD struggles touched me on a deep emotional level, and his seminal 1989 paper about developing living theory through action research makes very much sense to me, although (for me) neither of these texts exclude the possibility of choosing conventional science (models and propositional theories) as a basis for private knowledge and develop living theories from that.

Third – Living Theory and Action Research are not synonymous. Living Theory researchers rarely focus on one methodology such as Action Research as they exercise their methodological inventiveness in creating their own living-theory and living-theory-methodology. Living Theory researchers usually draw insights from a range of methodological insights from methodologies such as Narrative Inquiry, Phenomenology, Auto-ethnography as well as Action Research in the generation of their living-educational-theory.

I have no problem with this statement.  There may be many ways of developing living theory, but the type of living theory that interests me is the type of living theory that is developed from action research.  I am interested in theories of managing change.  However, when I have asked people about seminal Living Theory action research articles from EJOLTS, I have not gotten so many answers, so perhaps the action research approach for developing living theory is not as popular as it used to be, people developing their own methodologies and so on, as you suggest.  Still, I know there are some good Living Theory action research accounts published in EJOLTS, like some of the work done by Branko and associates, but I was hoping for a list of 2-3 examples of what the editorial board would describe as recommendable for those of us struggling with becoming part of the Living Theory movement.

Finally, I have the very strong impression you are trying to fit your work into Living Theory research, which therefore makes it an inappropriate methodology for you. From what I have seen of the papers you have submitted I would suggest you look for a methodology more suited to your needs by first thinking about the nature of the question you want to research. One methodology is not better or worse than another any more than a spoon is better than a fork: depends on what you are trying to do; you don’t chose a fork to eat soup and that is what it feels you are trying to do.

The underlying research question in all my work is 'How do I improve my practice?', which is why I got attracted to Living Theory research by reading "All you need to know about action research" (McNiff & Whitehead, 2006), among other things, and got engaged with the EJOLTS community.  Obviously I must be doing something wrong in my attempts to improve practice by looking at my personal values, describing my feelings of being a living contradiction, imagining ways of overcoming the problem, implementing action etc., as I am being perceived as somebody choosing a fork to eat soup.

Nevertheless, I am very happy for the discussions on the review and discussion forums as I feel I am able to clarify aspects of the submitted papers that apparently have been misunderstood and generally learn from talking with Living Theory experts.  Despite what you say about not seeing much progress in my development as a Living Theory researcher, I personally feel that I have made progress due to much good feedback, although it looks like I still have a long way to go.

 

Best regards,

Petter


petemellett
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Peter Mellett - Monday, 4 January 2016, 3:43 PM
 

Petter -

I see that Moira has recently posted her comments about your paper, which has reminded me that the Christmas period is now definitely over and that normality, albeit the 2016 variety, is now fully restored. Thus head-butted into action, I have revisited your latest draft and make the following observations on the basis of my reading of it, coupled with an eye to Moira's commentary. I shall not attempt to carry out an evaluation of the style undertaken by Moira: I lack the necessary analytical skills. My perspective is one that stands a little further back from your text and so my comments are more general in their nature. However, my view does concur exactly with Moira's where she says: "… I was intrigued by the originality of the title. So I approach this review as a living-theorist … but not in terms of Game Theory or practical experience of Pac-Man. Thus like any reviewer of this journal, my expertise lies in Living Theory".

Where Moira speaks of your paper's "… potential to be overtly original and creative in its contribution to dialogues about, and research into [my emphasis], Living Theory", I take this phrase as a confirmation of my view that the paper currently talks about Living Theory as a third-person category rather than as a first-person account of the development of your own living theory. I read the paper as a summative commentary, rather than as a personal account of a developing understanding that has been written from the inside of that developing understanding.

As earlier with your first draft, my word search for 'Living' scores significant hits only in the Abstract and in the Conclusion sections of the paper and not in its core, which, for me continues to raise questions that insist on intruding into my reading i.e.

  • Was the core of this paper originally written for another audience?
  • Was the original title simply "On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research"? 
  • Does the latest iteration of the paper comprise the original paper with a prefix to the title i.e. "Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement:" with a refocusing to the new (EJOLTS) target by means of an amended Abstract and Introduction?


However . . .  I too do this - the revisiting and reworking of ideas that form part of a personal focus in the search for something of central significance to my own ontological meaning and purpose. I have been circling around the same ideas for 25 years, since Jack Whitehead first challenged me to make a valid claim that I understand my own educational development. For me, responding to this question should be one of the central pillars of any living theory account. In this way, I have been continuously (if sporadically) questioning what I have thought and written, modifying my central ontological thesis that responds to the essential question "Who am I?"

But - I found that it was not sufficient to respond to Jack's challenge by attempting to grasp the world entire in a system of categories, as a third-person observer; the relationship between my personal 'I' and external educational influences is a highly significant first-person factor that has to be included in the reckoning. Those educational influences are often other people and the developmental conversations that I have with them (strengthened by insights from the literature) form the basis of the living theory that constitutes my claim to know.

You write (on the third page): "… the Pac-Man video game can be used as a Living Theory model for understanding certain aspects of the politics of TQM implementation from a self-improvement perspective, connecting it both with TQM theory …  and the way the Living Theory community conducts research through the use of self-improvement studies". What self-improvement came about in you through your process of pursuing this thesis? i.e. why is Packman important to you? What is its significance in improving the quality of your life? I do not need to know in abstract terms why it might be significant to me and my life or, more generally, to TQM - first of all, describe and explain to me how it came to be important to yours. 

As Donald Schon (of 'The Reflective Practitioner') once said to Jack: "You need to get a sense of your audience". We living-theory exponents do not understand our world wholly through a propositional logic that prioritises the general case - the language we use to make our meanings is more informed by a dialectical logic of question and answer that concentrates on the particular case. Tell me your story - your living educational story that describes and explains the development of your living educational theory. Make that the central point, with insights from Packman woven in. Packman is not the focus - you are. Get on the other side of the Mobius loop - and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time [Eliot].

Best wishes

- Peter

Petter Øgland, BSc, MSc, PhD
Re: Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research
by Petter Øgland - Tuesday, 5 January 2016, 5:53 PM
 

Dear Peter,

 Both you and Moira give very useful feedback, but as you approach the paper from what you describe as standing a little further back from the text and providing comments of a more general nature, I want to engage with some of the comments you make before going into some of the very specific issues Moira brings up. However, both of you address how the title of the paper perhaps fills the reader with expectations of a different kind of paper.

 As you observe, the title was changed when I resubmitted it after discussions with Jack and Pip on the Community Space, and the reason I changed it from “Using the Pac-Man game for translating living theories on total quality management from educational institutions to government agency” to “Towards Living Theory as a Social Movement: On the use of Pac-Man video game models in TQM research” was because Jack convinced me that larger contribution from the paper (beyond translating insights from one Living Theory account into another) was that of providing a method for bootstrapping a Living Theory community by connecting individuals by means of how their Living Theory accounts became part of a semantic network.

 In other words, when I started writing this paper in April 2014, I started out with the EJOLTS community in mind, using the EJOLTS template for my very first draft version, and engaging with Living Theory texts and ideas by people like Jack Whitehead, Jean McNiff, Pamela Lomax, Moyra Evans and Moira Laidlaw.  So, the paper was specifically written for the EJOLTS audience.  I have been aware of the Living Theory community since reading “All you need to know about action research” (McNiff and Whitehead) in 2006, and then continued reading more books, articles and watching YouTube videos.  I also remember reading some of the very first issues of EJOLTS when the journal was created.  I say this in response to your three questions where you wonder if the paper was originally intended for a different audience.  It was not.  It is written specifically for the EJOLTS audience.

However, the paper is not written as a Living Theory account.  The purpose of the paper is not to research “who am I” in the context of how I understand my educational development.  The purpose of the paper is to understand “who are you” in the case you had written a self-improvement study in your environment that I believed would be highly relevant for what I try to achieve in my environment, particularly if I have difficulties figuring out how to translate your insights into something that becomes immediately relevant for me in my study.

More concretely, when I read Jack’s “On the growth of educational knowledge” (1993) where he tells about his ongoing battles with people and institutions, having his PhD theses rejected and all sorts of terrible things, I felt that these frustrating stories were not only relevant for people within the educational institutions, they diagnosed what can happen in many organisations, where people are concerned with completely different things, but it may not always be obvious how to translate Jack’s insights from his own world into somebody else’s world.  This is how my paper is founded in Living Theory problems, and that is why my focus on Living Theory is primarily mentioned in the introduction and conclusion of the paper.

In the rest of the paper I talk about something different.  I talk about the idea of using a game model for capturing the game Jack was playing at Bath and elsewhere for describing the game I have been playing with my organisation.  As I have chosen a well-known game for describing this connection (Pac-Man), the solution strategies are known in theory (e.g. Uston’s “Mastering Pac-Man”, 1981), but they require skill for being implemented effectively.  The main body of my paper is then an study of how I try to develop this skill by using a particular learning strategy.

So, my EJOLTS manuscript is Living Theory research without being a Living Theory account.  It refers to Living Theory and Living Theory literature in the introduction (motivation) and conclusion, but otherwise the ontological and epistemological positioning is that of conventional science as the unit of analysis is the WikiHow strategy (for learning how to play Pac-Man) rather than me as a user of this particular strategy.  In this paper I am doing self-improvement experiments, but I am not studying myself.  I am investigating a method that I want to use in order to be able more easily understand the kind of self-development texts you and Moira write for the purpose of applying the insights in those paper in my own organisational context, what might be a completely different context.

Best regards,

Petter