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
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