This article is an English version of a paper published in Danish (Hjørland, 2010b).
Evidence-based practice: An analysis based on the philosophy of science†
Article first published online: 28 APR 2011
© 2011 ASIS&T
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Volume 62, Issue 7, pages 1301–1310, July 2011
How to Cite
Hjørland, B. (2011), Evidence-based practice: An analysis based on the philosophy of science. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 62: 1301–1310. doi: 10.1002/asi.21523
- Issue published online: 17 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 28 APR 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 5 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Received: 17 DEC 2010
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an influential interdisciplinary movement that originated in medicine as evidence-based medicine (EBM) about 1992. EBP is of considerable interest to library and information science (LIS) because it focuses on a thorough documentation of the basis for the decision making that is established in research as well as an optimization of every link in documentation and search processes. EBP is based on the philosophical doctrine of empiricism and, therefore, it is subject to the criticism that has been raised against empiricism. The main criticism of EBP is that practitioners lose their autonomy, that the understanding of theory and of underlying mechanisms is weakened, and that the concept of evidence is too narrow in the empiricist tradition. In this article, it is suggested that we should speak of “research-based practice” rather than EBP, because this term is open to more fruitful epistemologies and provides a broader understanding of evidence. The focus on scientific argumentation in EBP is an important contribution from EBP to LIS, which is long overdue, but parts of the underlying epistemological assumptions should be replaced: EBP is too narrow, too formalist, and too mechanical an approach on which to base scientific and scholarly documentation.