In referencing the title of Chris Candlin's (2008) plenary, this paper focuses on the continuing concern to align research and practice in applied linguistics, and more particularly in language for specific purposes (LSP) and professional communication. We examine how Candlin identified practices for trading places between research and practice and for creating synergies between them – and in so doing opened up new spaces for enquiry and understanding in the field. We identify and critically examine four approaches that Candlin developed to promote the alignment of research and practice: through particular research tools and methodologies, through the investigation of professional settings and inter-domain constructs (such as quality, trust and risk), through a concern with both rigour and relevance in relation to research and training, and through a focus on ‘critical moments of interaction’ in ‘crucial sites of engagement’ (Candlin 2008). To this end, we draw on the diverse domains and trajectories of enquiry outlined in the opening plenary symposium at the 4th Asia-Pacific Language for Specific Purposes & Professional Communication Association Conference from five standpoints: in recent impact case studies of professional communication in the Hong Kong context (Cheng 2017), in a ‘multi-perspectival’ account of Candlin's enacted philosophy of teaching and learning (Moore 2017), in examining the communicative basis of expertise (Sarangi 2017) and the concept of interdiscursivity (Jones 2017), and in the extensive fieldwork and analysis of workplace talk underlying the development of resources for new migrants in New Zealand (Holmes & Riddiford 2017). In conclusion, we pay tribute to an inspirational researcher and teacher whose influence will continue to impact applied linguistics for decades to come.