Using a reflexive approach allows a researcher to look into the impact that their own personal values and morals will have on their research; both in design and interpretation of the results (Cohen, 2006). Greenbank states “researchers who do not include a reflexive account should be criticised—it is they who should be forced to adopt a defensive position.” (2003, p799)
The question thus arises: “to what extent do you divulge personal reflexive practices within education research?” Lincoln and Guba (1985) recommend making regular entries into a research journal wherein the researcher is able to justify choices in their method, in any changes to personal values, or in the direction for the research to take.
Should the researchers publish their own personal thoughts to adopt a “defensive position” (Greenbank, 2003, p799), or should we recognise the experience which the researcher has, and any peer assessment which has been done? Would publishing your values which link decisions and reasoning(s) not start to undermine the actual research? Could doing so devalue your findings based on someone disagreeing with your decision and as a result disagreeing with your values? Would this, as a result, not open up the researcher to having their own personal values or morals judged beyond a professional construct?
There is however a fine-line here. If a researcher fails to mention any preconceptions or prejudices that they have, then this may result in a bias being created within the research construct or in the interpretation of findings. (Malterud, 2001). If this was to happen, then would the researcher be viewed as to have an alternative motive to direct the research and the findings in a particular direction? This being similar to (Insert research done by Pepsi about sugar linking to fat)
Greenbank himself mentions that he used reflexive approach when he was writing this article, yet doesn’t go into his values, methodology he used, or the specific impact being reflexive had when writing the article. (2003)
There is value in using a reflexive approach to developing your practice as a researcher over the long term. Using your peers and the peer-review paradigm gives the researcher feedback from a professional within their particular field of research, suggesting areas of development within either the research paradigm or the interpretation of the interpretation of the results. This feedback than allows the researcher to reconstruct or continue research, ultimately making the published piece of work stronger. This reflexivity is also used by teachers and middle-leaders on a day to day basis. When reflection is done on a lesson observation, a judgement is passed on “the impact that teaching has had on pupils’ learning over time.” (Cambridge Education, 2014, p46) If it is deemed that the lesson did not have the desired outcome, then as professionals, we would reflect on why it didn’t work; was it behaviour or engagement of the students? After this reflection, changes would be implemented and a new lesson taught. This cycle repeats.
In conclusion, reflexivity is not only a skill that researchers use, but which all professionals can use to provide understanding and clarity to their decisions and judgements.