Skip to main content

Table 1 Comparison of strengths and weaknesses of action research compared to randomized controlled trials and improvement campaigns

From: The time is now for action research


Randomized controlled trial

Action research

Improvement campaign


• Demonstrates efficacy of an intervention

• Facilitates tailored approach based on context

• Motivates widespread participation

• Promotes careful attention to intervention protocol

• Allows adjustment

• Provides feedback regarding how and why interventions succeed or fail

• Engages frontline expertise and increases likelihood of sustaining the intervention


• Does not address contextual factors, except through exclusion criteria

• Difficult to assess systematically and to conduct at scale

• Does not address contextual factors