Research Methods for Information Research

6. Practitioners as researchers

6.0 Asking people to reflect systematically on what they do

Most social science research is based on reflections drawn from self-observation or from watching other people. The most common ways of doing this are for researchers to take the lead by asking people to record their reflections in questionnaires, persuading people to report their views during interviews or focus groups, or for researchers to observe other people and interpret what they see. These are not the only research options: one under-used approach is to ask people to record their own thoughts and feelings about their work at the time or after the event. This may sound like adding a large additional burden to the workload of busy people but there are many circumstances in which people will be willing to reflect systematically on what they do and how. Here, in this section, are a few examples.