The action research model entails (1) using research methods to understand circumstances in their local context, (2) planning a response, (3) implementing it, (4) evaluating the response, and (5) modifying the response based on evaluation results.
Action research has several characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of research. It is participatory such that many stakeholders, including the subjects of study, are included in greater depth. It is also diagnostic in the sense that research identifies the nature and sources of problems. Action research with service providers also seeks to enhance the capacity of the agency to conduct research on its own. When a specific project ends, the agency possesses expertise in conducting research and may not be dependent on external research experts.
The National Institute of Justice has been promoting the action-research model since the mid-1990's. This characterizes the approach used in Houston.Resources:
McEwen, T. (1999). NIJ's locally initiated partnerships in policing: factors that add up to success. National Institute of Justice Journal, 238, 2 – 10. (pdf)