Article Type: Editorial
Subject: Medical research (Aims and objectives)
Medicine, Experimental (Aims and objectives)
Nurses (Aims and objectives)
Author: Wilson, Denise
Pub Date: 08/01/2010
Publication: Name: Nursing Praxis in New Zealand Publisher: Nursing Praxis in New Zealand Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Nursing Praxis in New Zealand ISSN: 0112-7438
Issue: Date: August, 2010 Source Volume: 26 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 220 Strategy & planning
Product: Product Code: 8000200 Medical Research; 9105220 Health Research Programs; 8000240 Epilepsy & Muscle Disease R&D; 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 54171 Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences; 92312 Administration of Public Health Programs; 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 291701795
Full Text: For a multitude of reasons publication of research findings can be a challenge for many. The Editorial Board are conscious that much of the research undertaken by registered nurses is done for their Master's degree qualification and hence the reports stay on library shelves in the form of dissertations or theses, with no form of wider circulation. Consequently, valuable and informative findings contained in these works are never disseminated through such media as conference presentations or peer-reviewed publications. That this is a longstanding problem is evident from the Editorial of July 2006 issue of Nursing Praxis in New Zealand in which Marian Bland and Lesley Batten highlighted their concerns about the "... professional imperative for nurses to write, to document what they do, articulate how they make a difference, and signal the challenges and the issues that must be addressed in nursing practice" (p.2). While they were commenting more generally about publishing in relation to Nursing Praxis, their words remain relevant four years later.

When research is undertaken, whether it is funded research or a requirement to complete a qualification, registered nurses have a responsibility and obligation to publish the findings and any methodological or other relevant information that may have been gained during the research process. This responsibility includes an ethical obligation to participants who have contributed their time, thoughts and experiences for the research endeavour. Research participants generally expect the outcome of their involvement in a study will be used in some way to improve nursing practice or health services. When findings sit on library shelves in a university or polytechnic they are only accessed by those who know their existence and the potential impact of research is significantly diminished. Failure to publish also negates the commitment researchers give as part of their ethical approval to publish as a form of the research dissemination.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word research relates to an endeavour of critical exploration through a process of careful inquiry to discover new information or bring together old and existing information. The process of publication enables researchers to translate their research endeavour in a form that can be used to inform the practice, policy or education environments, and is part of the research process. Publication of research findings extends beyond mere reporting. In addition to the story of the what, why and how of the research it should include the 'so what?', thereby clearly identifying the implications a piece of research has for practitioners, policy makers, educators, and researchers. Importantly, as a result the information does not become redundant, doomed to sit on a library shelf.

Publication of research should also be cognisant of the concept of social justice that underpins nursing practice. Social justice provides a foundation on which to critically evaluate the endeavours of nursing, health services, health service delivery, and the practices which occur within these. With reference to social justice, Powers and Faden (2006) claimed it:

It is not uncommon for participants in nurses' research to experience vulnerability or marginalisation, providing a back-drop for critique and challenge. Nurses probe areas based on concerns or questions they have about clients' experiences or an aspect of practice or service delivery that they find concerning or problematic. The findings no matter how small or seemingly insignificant to the researcher provide, at a minimum, insight into areas that have not been previously explored, or alternatively they have the potential to make a difference to practice, policy or resources for registered nurses or clients.

Nurses have an important role to play with regard to the health outcomes of people, whether it is through their practice or the research they undertake. The 'vigilance and attentiveness' Powers and Faden refer to in their quote above, is applicable also to research findings and their utility and is just as important an endeavour as undertaking the research itself--they have the potential to influence health outcomes in some way, shape or form. Communicating research findings and their implications to those in clinical practice, education, policy-making, or research is crucial for making a difference to clients and practice outcomes.

Some of the reasons registered nurses completing their qualifications offer for not publishing their findings relate to time, not seeing the value of their research and the potential contribution it can make, and simply relief at being over writing and study. In some cases they just lie low with the hope that time will wash away the imperative to publish their research. The Editorial Board members are also aware that writing to publication standard for many does not come easily, in many cases requiring drafting and re-drafting of manuscripts.

It takes courage to send a manuscript off for critique by peers and risk having one's 'baby' criticised. Each and every member of the Editorial Board has experienced the rigours of publishing, having their 'babies' scrutinised and critiqued. Occasionally manuscripts are not accepted for publication, but only after very careful consideration. The Editorial Board members are also familiar with the feelings and experiences of researchers who are novice writers for peer-reviewed journals, and therefore, where possible support and encourage authors in their writing journey. Our advice would be to surround yourself with those who have become skilled in the trials and tribulations of the publication journey, and be guided by the knowledge and experiences they have accumulated.

Research undertaken by nurses has the potential to make a difference, but in order to achieve this end it needs to be published and available. That requires nurses to take a risk and write-up the findings for publication, and importantly translate those findings for potential users to increase its utility for the readers.


Bland, M., & Batten, L. (2006). Editorial. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 22(2), 2-3.

Powers, M., & Faden, R. (2006). Social justice: The moral foundations of public health and public policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Associate Professor Denise Wilson


Editor-in-Chief/AUT University
... is not a matter of conforming society to an
   antecedently identifiable set of distributive principles,
   but rather it is a task requiring vigilance
   and attentiveness to changing impediments to
   the achievement of enduring dimensions of well-being
   that are essential guides to the aspirations
   of justice (p.5).
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