It is accepted that reflective practice is important in nursing. It assists with meeting the professional requirements of the governing body for nurses in the UK (Nursing and Midwifery Council, NMC) to provide the best care possible and for continuing professional development. Reflective practice has been established in other spheres, for example education, for many years. Reflection became increasingly important to nurse education from the mid to late 1990s, when a flurry of papers reported that it was widely used but not clearly defined. Reflective practice is essential for competent health care professionals and those who teach them. As noted by Mann et al. (2009, p. 596). To learn effectively from one's experience is critical in developing and maintaining competence across a practice lifetime. What is less clear is whether or not reflective practice could be considered a research methodology. It is accepted that reflection is a valuable component within other methodologies, such as ethnography, guided narrative and critical incident analysis. It is also given that reflective practice is strategy employed within qualitative research for ensuring rigour in data analysis. It is the contention of this contemporary issue article that reflection, or reflective practice, is a justifiable research methodology in its own right. This paper is not a 'how to' guide to reflection, it assumes that the reader has some knowledge of what reflection is, how it is undertaken and of the various popular models which are available for the reflective nurse practitioner to use. On this basis, this basic introduction has been left deliberately brief. Throughout the paper reflection, or reflective practice, will be considered as a structured way to learn from both good and bad experiences. It is a rigorous way of thinking, described by Moon (1999 p. 23) as 'a form of mental processing'.