The ideas embraced by the terms ‘action research’ and ‘reflective practice’ have developed an increasing momentum within educational circles, attracting the attentions of front-line teachers, advisors, researchers, professional developers – and to a much less degree administrators and policy-makers – in the past two decades. As someone who tries to teach educational research students about such things, I recognise the seductive quality of these ideas. But they have never seemed to beentirely satisfactory to me, for reasons that I hopewill become apparent in the course of this chapter. What exactly are these ideas, and why are they apparently so attractive? What meanings can we give to the terms ‘action research’ and ‘reflective practice’, and how are they related? Here, I examine a number of different accounts of action research and its justifications, by way of commenting on selected extracts from some of the standard texts in the educational action research field. A brief history of action research as a preferred mode of enquiry is followed by a specific consideration of the work of Cohen and Manion (1985), Carr and Kemmis (1986), and Winter (1989). As we shall see, these writers offer rather different justifications for action research. They also emphasise different perspectives on particular aspects of the process of engaging in such enquiry. Collectively, however, they are a good source, together with that of Elliott (1991), for an overall understanding of what is involved in this form of practitioner investigation.