Scholarly Practice

How can we effectively apply research to practice?

Curated Resources on Scholarly Practice

scholarly practiceScholarly practice entails grounding our work in the theory and research of our field – making sure that what we are recommending has a solid base of theory and evidence to back it up. While “scholarly practice” is a bit of a kludgy term, it’s a very important concept related to being impactful in our roles as learning professionals. Being a scholar-practitioner involves learning the body of knowledge that underpins our work, having a questing and analytic mindset, looking for research and theory to inform our project recommendations, deliberately learning from experience, and engaging in reflective practice – analyzing and adjusting our approaches to constantly improve.

Appropriately, there has been quite a bit of research done on scholarly practice, which has informed what we know about the required skills and the activities that scholar-practitioners undertake. In my 2013 article, The SMART Practice of Scholarly Practice, I summarized the identified behaviors along five dimensions:

  • Using theory and research to inform our recommendations
  • Looking for or producing the research evidence to support our activities and practices
  • Deliberately searching the literature for relevant ideas when we have strategic initiatives to support
  • Applying research skills in our own work to test out the effectiveness of our activities
  • Engaging with academics to exchange perspectives on the linkages between theory and practice.

I have been a proponent of scholarly practice for quite some time, and part of the value that I bring to my work is that I take care to ground it in relevant theoretical frameworks and research-based recommendations. I aim to contribute to our understanding of scholarly practice by writing about it often and creating workshops on the approaches and habits that define scholarly practice. I have also taken to the blogosphere to share with practitioners some interesting ideas that are coming out of research and theory in our field.

Curated Recommendations

 // My articles on scholarly practice >

  • Through a kaleidoscope: Dimensions of scholarly practice. (with Jo Tyler, 2017) Advances in Developing Human Resources, 19(3). (publisher’s website) – We describe how scholarly practice behaviors can be woven throughout any consulting process.
  • Ways of thinking, being, and doing: The scholar-practitioner mindset for successfully innovating HRD. (with Jo Tyler as lead author, 2017) Advances in Developing Human Resources, 19(3). (publisher’s website) – We articulate nuanced behaviors of the scholar-practitioner, which involve being smart, brave, and generous.
  • Challenges of learning in the flow of work: Scaffolding self-direction. (2016) International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy, and Research 1(2). (available online) – The bulk of this article is about effectively supporting self-directed learning in the workplace, but it is also a case study of scholarly practice.
  • The SMART practice of scholarly practice. (2013) Advances in Developing Human Resources 15(3). (publisher’s website / SMART Practice pre-publication version) – I write about how to integrate scholarly practice with a business mindset, describing the resulting approach as scholarly, macro, aligned, realistic, and tested.
  • Avoiding malpractice in HRD: Five imperatives for HRD professionals in organizations. (2007) HRD Review 6(9). (publisher’s website / Avoiding Malpractice pre-publication version) – This is a call to action for learning and development professionals to practice conscious competence, consistently ask for evidence and theoretical base for suggested solutions, proactively and deeply research your company’s strategic HRD issues, partner with researchers to learn more about your strategic issues and stay current in the field.

// Advances in Developing Human Resources >

Advances in Developing Human Resources is the practitioner-oriented publication of the Academy of Human Resource Development, and there have been two editions of the journal specifically on scholarly practice. Each issue contains multiple articles of scholarly practice in HRD. Recommended!

  • Integrating Research and Practice (August 2017 issue). Advances in Developing Human Resources 19(3). Edited by Jia Wang (publisher website)
  • Scholar-Practitioner Case Approach: Implications for Advancing Theory and Research Through Informed Practice (August 2013 issue). Advances in Developing Human Resources 15(3). Edited by Ellen Scully-Russ,Rachelle Lehner,and Brad Shuck (publisher website)
  • Bridging the Gap: Scholar-practitioners in Human Resource Development (August 2009 issue). Advances in Developing Human Resources 11(4). Edited by Darren C. Short, Martin B. Kormanik and Wendy E.A. Ruona (publisher website)

// Related to applying research to practice >

These are links to my practitioner-oriented blog posts and articles that translate research for practice.

Last updated: December 28, 2017 by Catherine Lombardozzi
This page is part of a collection of resources curated by Learning 4 Learning Professionals
For more, go to