So how do we go about standing on the shoulders of giants, particularly with reference to the role of a research-lead in a school and how research-leads could go about performing their task. Both Alex Quigley and Carl Hendrick did an admirable job in trying to map out the territory for the research-lead and some of the roles and tasks that need to be performed. For me a fantastic starting point for building upon this discussion is the work of Barends, Rousseau, & Briner's (2014) and their pamphlet on the basic principles of evidence-based management. Barends* et al state:
From the point of view of a school-research lead this definition has a number of implications.
- Being a research-lead involves more than just 'academic' research, it involves drawing upon a wider range of evidence - including both individual school data and the views of stakeholders, such as staff, pupils, parents and the wider community.
- This approach can be largely independent of work with higher education institutions. It is not necessary to partner with a HEI to be an evidence-based practitioner or evidence-based school. It might help, specifically when supporting staff develop as evidence-based practitioner but it's not absolutely necessary.
- At the heart of this process is being able to translate school issues or challenges into a well formulated and answerable problem and evidence-based medicine has a number of tools which can help with this process.
- Applying relevant knowledge - this about using knowledge about effective research in order to help colleagues become better practitioners, for example, helping to ask well-formulated and answerable questions.
- Solving complex problems - research is a tricky and slippery topic and it's about discerning the specific research challenges faced by a school and then crafting research processes in order to address those challenges.
- Building relational trust - which is an absolute pre-requisite for such work. Research leads need to gain the trust of colleagues, otherwise it will be virtually impossible to develop a research agenda in schools. And in undertaking this role, this require a specific set of skills which will allow both the research lead and practitioner to engage in effective evidence-based practice.
- How to get better at asking well-formulated questions.
- How to write a short-paper on a Critically Appraised Topic
- Some of the current challenges faced by evidence-based practitioners, particularly in the field of medicine.
Medical Education, Vol. 5 (1).
Barends, E., Rousseau, D. M., & Briner, R. B. 2014. Evidence-Based Management : The Basic Principles. Centre for Evidence Based Management (Ed.). Amsterdam.
Robinson, V. (2011) Student-Centered Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco