Practitioners as researchers

Browse this section for information and resources for undertaking action research associated with current teaching practice or a funded research project.

Resources on this page are a mix of free and 'for purchase'. All resources listed are Australian in origin unless otherwise labelled.


Click on the following topics to access resources:

What's new in Practitioners as researchers

  • Equity Framework for Career and Technical Education Research [United States, 2022] [added 8 November, 2022]
    This framework presents guidance for implementing CTE research with an equity-focused lens. The Equity in CTE Workgroup explains how CTE's role in high school tracking continues to present equity challenges that researchers need to understand. The Workgroup then lays out some definitions to ensure a common language and present the values driving this work. The bulk of the framework includes information about how to infuse equity throughout each stage of the CTE research process.

Getting started as a researcher

What does it mean to be a practitioner-researcher?


One way to view practitioners as researchers is as 'practitioners who actively think about changing their practice share certain attributes. These are: (i) reflective; (ii) responsive to and respectful of learners; (iii) closely engaged with local enterprises; and (iv) reaching out to learn from and share their own knowledge with other practitioners. These four qualities appear to establish the bedrock from which practitioners can set out to seriously consider rebuilding their practice.'  (Figgis, 2009, Regenerating the Australian landscape of professional VET practice: practitioner-driven changes to teaching and learning: research overview, NCVER, Adelaide, p.3)

Action research (AR), practitioner-led action research (PLAR) and participatory action research (PAR) are all used in curriculum development, professional development and institutional improvement:

  • AR, and PLAR
    • help to improve and involve communities of practice by addressing critical educational problems and the situations in which these problems take place,
    • create a presence in policy decisions that impact the profession,
    • require practitioners to be self-reflective of their own educational process and how this process meets the learning needs of students.
  • PAR
    • is used to address broader knowledge and social change in community environments,
    • emphasises participation and action through collective inquiry and experimentation in relation to life, experience and knowledge within a community context.

Developing a research proposal

Examples of practitioner-led research

  • Excellence Gateway research portal: developing your practice: engaging with and using research [UK]
    This site aims to help practitioners engage with and use research to develop professional practice.
  • International Specialised Skills Institute [Victoria, Australia]
    The ISS Institute International Fellowship program supports many Australians and international leaders across a broad cross-section of industries and sectors to undertake applied international research that benefits economic development through vocational training, industry innovation and advancement.
  • NCVER Communities of Practice collection
    This collection brings together the published papers from NCVER's Community of Practice program, Academic Scholarship program, and the Building Researcher Capacity initiative.
  • Praxis 2016: improving education practice through action research
    In 2015, TAFE Queensland partnered with Griffith University to pilot a Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) program. Pods of educators were established at TAFE Queensland Brisbane and TAFE Queensland Gold Coast. The program provides professional development in research practice, including an opportunity for our educators to undertake an action research project meaningful for them in a highly supportive environment. This publication features nine case studies from the 2015 CPAR program. These case studies demonstrate scholarly reflective practice across a variety of themes, including blended learning, technology utilisation, workplace learning, and sustainability. They also feature a diversity of teaching disciplines, including: veterinary nursing, community care, early childhood teaching and TAFE Queensland's Language and Literacy Services (TELLS).
  • Transforming practice in long day care: an action research project (article, 2019)
    (Source: International Journal of Training Research)
    TAFE SA created a new model of long-term support and engagement with the early childhood and schooling sectors across the state. One example of a long-term professional learning engagement with an early childhood service became the focus of an action research project, enabling systematic analysis of evaluative data to determine the impact of professional learning activities on educator practice. The action research project and its outcomes are presented in this paper.

NCVER research and statistics

VOCEDplus services for researchers

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Free resources


Focus on practice

  • Action research for professional learning (AITSL)
    (Source: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership)
    This 15 minute clip presents an illustration of practice in action research for professional learning, in this instance, trialing team teaching in a secondary science and mathematics environment to examine the effect on student learning outcomes.
  • Action research: the ultimate problem-solving strategy for educators
    (Source: InformED, a blog by Open Colleges, an online education provider based in Sydney, Australia)
    Based on the work of Richard Sagor, this online article outlines the concept of action research, presents its three purposes and describes the seven steps of the action research process.
  • ARAL (Action Research and Action Learning for community and organisational change)
    This web site holds a large collection of action research and related resources.
  • Australian Government publications
  • Australian Research Council
    ARC is one of the Australian government's two main agencies for competitively allocating research funding to academics and researchers at Australian universities.
  • AVETRA Educator Hub
    This AVETRA project is designed to support new VET researchers, VET educators who have an interest in the use of VET research, and those already involved in research. It is particularly aimed at those VET educators/practitioners who might be interested in 'practice-based research or inquiry'. NOTE: May require AVETRA membership to participate.
  • Combining participatory action research with developmental evaluation approaches: do they align?
    (Source: Whole of Community Engagement Initiative, Charles Darwin University)
    This presentation from James Smith and Anne Lowell explores the alignment between these two approaches by using a remote Indigenous case study.
  • Doing applied research in Victorian TAFE institutes: an introductory guide [2019]
    This guide was commissioned by the Victorian TAFE Association (VTA) to support Victorian TAFE staff members to undertake applied research. Applied research projects may be with an industry, community or government partner or undertaken within TAFE to improve professional practice, courses and programs.
  • Getting tough on missing data: a boot camp for social science researchers [2011]
    (Source: NCVER)
    Research in the social sciences is routinely affected by missing data. Not addressing missing data appropriately may yield research findings that are either 'slightly off' or 'plain wrong'. This study demonstrates why and how frequently used simple remedies for missing data can impact on research results.
  • A guide to practitioner research in international education [2020]
    (Source: International Education Association of Australia and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2020)
    This guide is intended for anyone working in international education who is interested in conducting research and/or systematically reflecting on practice and sharing insights to benefit others. It aims to enhance the way practitioners undertake research and assist them in producing more robust and widely disseminated outcomes.
  • A guidebook on TVET research: tool kits for TVET practitioners [international, 2020]
    This guide was developed by the Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC) in the Philippines to provide simple, concise information on the technical process of doing research. The guide supplements CPSC's publication, 'Research in TVET made easy', published in 2009 and tackling the general practice of conducting research. This current guide is more specific and direct in its approach, and written with a view to the general concerns of TVET practitioners. It uses cases and information that can be generally applied to research situations without any biases on the cultural or educational background of the reader.
  • A handbook for research in adult and vocational education [NCVER, 1996]
    This handbook aims to provide insights into how research can be best approached in the changing vocational education and training sector. It is a guide to different research methods and suggests possible research projects. It has been written by researchers with expertise in quantitative and qualitative research, with contributions from a practising TAFE teacher and a recent university graduate.
  • Linking research to action: a simple guide to writing an action research report [2017]
    (Source: Japan Association for Language Teaching)
    This brief article from The Language Teacher, issue 41.1, January 2017, discusses what action research is and why it's undertaken, what should be included in an action research report and the rationale for doing so, in particular, the opportunity to reflect on one's own practice.
  • Research integrity in research publication: best practice for authors [international, 2020]
    (Source: Hindawi, Open Access publisher, 2020)
    This webinar, in collaboration with American Journal Experts (AJE) and Research Square, addresses some of the issues that need to be dealt with before manuscript submission. Speakers discuss what are some of the best practices to follow when conducting research and communicating research findings and focus on key factors contributing to the so-called reproducibility crisis.
  • Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools [LSE Impact Blog, UK, 2019]
    (Source: London School of Economics)
    Twitter and other social media platforms represent a large and largely untapped resource for social data and evidence. This post features the latest developments in digital methods and methodologies for researching Twitter and other social media platforms.
  • Writing a book proposal [blog, 2022]
    (Source: The Society for Research into Higher Education)
    Rachel Brooks and Sarah O'Shea (editors of the SRHE/Routledge Book series) along with Zoe Thomson (Education Editor at Taylor and Francis) share their insights as authors and editors, discussing some questions frequently asked by those thinking of putting a book proposal together.

For purchase

  • Social media research: theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks [article, 2015]
    (Source: International Journal of Information Management, Elsevier)
    To understand how researchers have adopted theories, used research constructs, and developed conceptual frameworks in their studies, a systematic and structured literature review based on five leading online academic databases was conducted.

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Information sources

Free resources

Research databases

  • VOCEDplus
    VOCEDplus is NCVER’s bibliographic and full text database of international vocational education and training research and related value-added resources. The bibliographic database has a citation tool which is useful for generating reference lists or for importing references into your EndNote library. The VOCEDplus document delivery service can be used to access copies of publications in VOCEDplus not available online.
  • ERIC
    Education Resources Information Centre, is an international education research database produced by the Institute of Education Sciences in the US.
  • Google Scholar
    A web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across a range of publishing formats and disciplines. Its citation index lets you know how many times a piece of work has been cited.
  • VET-Bib
    VET-Bib is a bibliographic database of mainly European vocational education and training (VET) research produced by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP).


For purchase


This an example only of a commercial producer of training and assessment resources. Inclusion on this list does not signify endorsement by NCVER.


  • Velg Training Knowledge Hub [added 26 February 2024]
    Members ONLY
    The Knowledge Hub is an intricately curated source of information that has been created for Velg Training Members. It has been hyperlinked for you to explore. Simply click on each topic and you will be taken to the relevant page that is filled with information, templates, samples, products, VelgCasts and useful links. 

Statistical data

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
    The ABS is Australia's national statistical agency and is the primary source of statistical information about Australia, it's people, economy and environment. The website provides statistical summaries, publications, links to other statistics websites, and detailed information about statistical collections.
  • Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) statistics
    This central source of Australian open government data provides access to anonymised public data published by federal, state and local government agencies.
  • Education datasets
    (Source: Queensland Government data)
  • Education GPS [international]
    (Source: OECD)
    Analyse by country, explore data and review education policies.
  • HILDA Survey
    (Source: Melbourne Institute, University of Melbourne)
    The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey is a household-based panel study that collects valuable information about economic and personal well-being, labour market dynamics and family life.
  • International student data
    (Source: Australian Government Department of Education)
  • Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY)
    A study that follows young Australians over 10 years, from their mid-teens to mid-twenties, as they move through school to further study, work and beyond.
  • OECD
  • Tertiary education [international]
    (Source: Our World in Data)
    Using interactive data visualizations and summarizing the scientific literature, this non-profit website brings together the data and research on the long-run trends reshaping tertiary education around the world.
  • VET data
    NCVER collects data about the Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector through a number of statistical collections and surveys. You can also use VOCSTATS to construct your own tables via an interactive web interface, using data from various NCVER collections.

Related VOCEDplus resources