This paper starts from an examination of an epistemological framework that underpins practice in particular educational contexts. It examines work-based knowledge, relating this to practitioner research and evidence informed practice. This is followed by an exploration of arguments that call for increased rigour in educational research as well as the use of systematic reviews. The paper examines tensions within educational research located in particular institutional contexts which draw upon 'post-modern' conceptualisations of practice, setting these against research concerned with generalisability that veers towards traditional positivist claims. The paper concludes by suggesting that such arguments readily fold back into a conservative empiricism and a more appropriate position should be based upon dialogue across a range of constituents. However, such a notion needs to recognise social antagonism as well as aspirations towards the deepening of notions of social justice.