Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Facilities, Volume 26, Issue 9/10
Following on from last issue’s discussion on the important role of journal reviewers, the editorial was put forward for discussion in the CNBR network. CNBR stands for the Co-operative Network for Building Researchers – an informal list for those who have an interest in building research and related fields including project management, real estate and construction. The posting itself gave rise to lots of constructive ideas from practitioners, academics and other editors – in particular, “the role of practitioners in the reviewing process”. This discussion began with the suggestion:
“Why not ask reflective practitioners to join the ranks of reviewers?” A. Mossman, practitioner, excerpt from posting on CNBR, March 25, 2008.
This proposal elicited a prompt response from one of the other network members – an academic with 30 years experience in the industry:
“I would like to respectfully challenge the assertion that ‘our academic outputs should be practical i.e. of value/use to the industry we study’ – at least in any narrowly instrumental sense. Being ‘useful to industry’ usually means useful to one particular side of industry, but there are many other possibilities. We might, for example, hope to do research which is useful to ‘society’ by pointing out some of the harmful externalities of the construction industry, such as deaths and injuries at work, or environmental damage. I think the greatest service we as academics can do the ‘reflective practitioner’ is not to try to do companies’ R&D for them, but to enquire into some wider questions which may not be of any obvious ‘use to the industry’. Kate Ness, University of Reading, UK, excerpt from posting on CNBR, March 26, 2008.
This was followed by another response from the Editor of Construction Management and Economics, Professor Will Hughes:
“Alan Mossman makes an interesting point, in raising a quite different issue about the practical relevance of research. This has been challenged by a subsequent correspondent (Kate Ness), and I would only suggest that the relevance of a particular paper may not be for the industry, but for other researchers, or for contributing to a more robust theoretical explanation of our collective observations. I can see no objection to asking reflective practitioners for their views, especially as many of them have been educated to postgraduate qualification level. In our area, the dividing line between academics and practitioners is very fuzzy. Many of us know individuals who can have a positive impact in both areas, so we should be careful about seeing them as two exclusive categories. But I agree that we should also be careful about insisting on some kind of immediate commercial impact of every piece of research”, Will Hughes, Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK, excerpt from posting on CNBR, March 26, 2008.
“And many of the smaller firms in our fragmented industry don’t have the resources to do R&D so while the questions academics may be asking may seem to have no relevance to practice, I hope the answers will – so as to encourage more companies to do systematic instrumental R&D that builds on the blue sky stuff of academe. Japanese companies are way ahead of their UK counterparts on this.” Response by Alan Mossman, practitioner, excerpt from posting on CNBR, March 26, 2008.
These valuable views and suggestions illustrate the way in which cooperative electronic networks can help to formulate consensus or identify differences in view. For Facilities as a journal, we have always valued the input of practitioners in the reviewing process. It is also important to highlight the role of facilities management in relation to its wider societal impacts. Invariably, the effects of facilities management are felt directly by occupiers and users of space. In this respect I think that both practitioners and academics are in agreement.