Further Study is Needed to Define and Measure the Use of Reflective Practice in Library and Information Science

Carol Perryman

Abstract


A review of:
Grant, Maria J. “The Role of Reflection in the Library and Information Sector: A Systematic Review.” Health Information and Libraries Journal (2007) 24: 155-166.

Objectives - To identify and review the literature of reflective practice in Library and Information Science (LIS) in order to understand its role, particularly with regard to health libraries.

Design - Systematic review

Setting - LIS English-language articles indexed in the Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA) database and published between 1969 and 2006.

Subjects - 929 citations retrieved from the LISA database.

Methods - The author conducted free text searches in the LISA database for the terms ‘reflective’ or ‘reflection*’ or ‘reflexion*.’ An initial search series was conducted in 2004 in order to retrieve items published between 1969-2003, then in 2007, for articles published between 2004-2006. In all, 929 article citations were retrieved. Exclusion criteria included those articles addressing the facilitation of reflective practices in others, as well as non-English language, and materials predating 1969. After review, 55 articles met the author’s relevance standard. Citation tracking then added 10 articles to the total. From this dataset, full text articles were obtained where possible, if determined on initial scrutiny to be deserving of further examination. Thirteen articles (.013%) were ultimately selected for analysis. These articles were categorized as analytical or non-analytical, with respect to perspective (individual or organizational), and recency of events (retrospective or recent). In addition, a determination was made about whether the articles’ focus was reflection occurring on (in retrospect to) or in (during) practice.

Main results - Of 13 articles, 5 were found to be non-analytical, with the other 6 being analytical. Three of the non-analytical items were the reflections of an individual, while the remaining 2 offered an organizational perspective. The non-analytical accounts were found to be mostly descriptive accounts by an individual, mostly retrospective and offering no consideration of implications for LIS practice. Analytical reflective accounts attempt to systematically appraise events from the recent past, and draw conclusions in order to improve future actions.

Conclusion – A gradual increase in the use of analytical reflective practice is demonstrated over the period from 1969-2006, although insufficient examples of the practice were found in the published literature. Reflective practice is likely to be beneficial to LIS practitioners, especially when time is spent in considering the implications of lessons learned from practice.

Keywords


reflective practice; library and information science; bibliometric study

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