Archive for the ‘Nursing research’ Category


Message to Authors: Think. Check. Submit.

October 5, 2015

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Think. Check. Submit.

The above three words sum up the message of a new campaign to increase awareness among researchers and authors about predatory publishers—entities that take advantage of authors by unscrupulous practices that often leave the authors tied up in a contract and owing a large fee to publish in a journal that has little or no standing. (See my related editorial on predatory publishing in the April issue of AJN.)

Promising rapid publication, predatory journals lack peer review and fact-checking, often tout fake metrics, and may adopt names that are deceptively similar to those of established journals. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, has been tracking predatory publishers since 2009 and maintains a list of them on his Web site, Scholarly Open Access.

The Think. Check. Submit. campaign describes itself as an “industry-wide initiative that provides a checklist of quality indicators that can help researchers identify if a journal is a trustworthy.” It’s a new campaign “produced with the support of a coalition from across scholarly communications in response to discussions about deceptive publishing.” In brief, it asks authors to:

THINK about where they should publish their work. Are the journals they are considering reputable?

CHECK the list of questions designed to help determine if a journal is respectable and sound.

SUBMIT . . . only if most of the criteria on the checklist are met. Read the rest of this entry ?


On Nursing Identity: What We Can Learn from African Nurses’ Oral Histories

August 17, 2015

 By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

Port of Mauritius by Iqbal Osman, via Flickr

Port of Mauritius by Iqbal Osman, via Flickr

“I have chosen this profession and nobody can take it away from me.”—Sophie Makwangwala, study participant

In the summer of 2009, at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Quadren­nial Congress in Durban, South Africa, a small group met to discuss collaborating on joint history projects. At that meeting, several African leaders of pro­fessional nursing associations reported that their expertise had long gone unrecognized. Seeking to have the stories of African nursing history told, they pro­posed interviews with other retired nurse leaders. Barbara Mann Wall, an American nurse researcher who was in the room that day, found herself intrigued.

The study. In keeping with Braun’s tenet that “indigenous research should be led, de­signed, controlled, and reported by indigenous peo­ple,” Wall first trained three of the African nurse leaders in the oral history method, aided by a grant from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Then the team embarked on the study reported on in this month’s original research CE, “ ‘I Am A Nurse’: Oral Histories of African Nurses.” Here’s an overview: Read the rest of this entry ?


Editing a Journal: Not Bedside Nursing, But Still an Urgency to Get Things Right

August 14, 2015

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

‘Nurses practice based on what’s in the literature; we need editors who will draw lines and stand firm against publishing biased and inaccurate papers.’

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

I recently returned from a meeting in Las Vegas, the land of lights and bells and six-story marquees—and heat (it hit 109 when I was there, but “a dry heat”). The long flight home gave me time to reflect on the meeting I’d attended (of editors of nursing journals) and on what I do.

When I began my nursing career, I always thought I would stay in the acute care setting. I found the fast pace of the ER challenging and never boring. When I moved into a clinical specialist position and then an administrative one, I could still get involved in challenging situations, from dealing with problems that occurred on clinical units or with staff to navigating the politics of hospital committees and community liaisons.

But time passes and paths twist and turn, and here I am the editor of AJN—and it’s the most challenging and professionally fulfilling job I’ve had.

The International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE for short) meets annually. It’s a loose networking group, mainly held together through a Web site, blog, and listserv. There are no officers or bylaws, no dues. Each year someone volunteers to host the annual meeting and whoever would like to help joins in. Anyone can propose a project, and those who want to work on it volunteer. We pass the hat to raise funds to support the Web site and incidental expenses and to help new editors attend the INANE meeting.

But don’t accuse this laid-back group of being inactive or frivolous—serious issues are tackled on an ongoing basis. True, they are not as exciting as the situations one might encounter in the clinical arena, but they have an effect on what many nurses do and think and implement in practice.

In Las Vegas, sessions focused on some important topics, including

  • the retraction of articles, i.e., when a publisher basically admits that an article is flawed and should not have been published.
  • the ethics of authorship and what to do when authors don’t want to disclose who actually wrote the paper, thus leaving room for conflicts of interest, bias, and skewed results and conclusions.
  • when and how much to fact-check authors’ references.
  • how to ensure students are getting the correct information about scholarly writing and publishing.
  • how to help new authors get their articles published.

Read the rest of this entry ?


AJN in August: Oral Histories of African Nurses, Opioid Abuse, Misplaced Enteral Tubes, More

August 3, 2015

AJN0815.Cover.OnlineOn this month’s cover, a community nurse practices health education with residents of a small fishing village in rural Uganda. Former AJN clinical managing editor Karen Roush took the photo in a small community center made of dried mud bricks, wood, and straw.

According to Roush, nurses wrote the lessons out on poster-sized sheets of white paper and tacked them to the mud wall as they addressed topics like personal hygiene, sanitation, food safety, communication, and prevention of infectious diseases. The reality of nursing in Africa is explored this month in “‘I Am a Nurse’: Oral Histories of African Nurses,” original research that shares African nurse leaders’ stories so we may better understand nursing from their perspective.

Some other articles of note in the August issue:

CE feature: A major source of diverted opioid prescription medications is from friends and family members with legitimate prescriptions.  “Nurses’ Role in Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion” describes three potential interventions in which nurses play a critical role to help prevent opioid diversion.

From our Safety Monitor column: More than 1.2 million enteral feeding tubes are placed annually in the United States. While the practice is usually safe, serious complications can occur. “Misplacements of Enteral Feeding Tubes Increase After Hospitals Switch Brands,” a report from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, reviews cases of misplaced tubes and offers guidance for how nurses can prevent such errors in their own practice.

Clinical feature: It is no surprise that physical activity comes with numerous physical and mental benefits, nor that a majority of Americans do not get enough exercise. “The Evolution of Physical Activity Promotion” updates nurses on physical activity guidelines and provides tips for encouraging patients to improve their physical activity. This feature also highlights the importance of decreasing one’s amount of sedentary and sitting time, even in physically active people. Read the rest of this entry ?


Evidence-Based Practice and the Curiosity of Nurses

July 27, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

karen eliot/flickr

by karen eliot/via flickr

In a series of articles in AJN, evidence-based practice (EBP) is defined as problem solving that “integrates the best evidence from well-designed studies and patient care data, and combines it with patient preferences and values and nurse expertise.”

We recently asked AJN’s Facebook fans to weigh in on the meaning of EBP for them. Some skeptics regarded it as simply the latest buzzword in health care, discussed “only when Joint Commission is in the building.” One comment noted that “evidence” can be misused to justify overtreatment and generate more profits. Another lamented that EBP serves to highlight the disconnect between education and practice—that is, between what we’re taught (usually, based on evidence) and what we do (often the result of limited resources).

There’s probably some truth in these observations. But at baseline, isn’t EBP simply about doing our best for patients by basing our clinical practice on the best evidence we can find? AJN has published some great examples of staff nurses who asked questions, set out to answer them, and ended up changing practice.

  • In a June 2013 article, nurses describe how they devised a nurse-directed protocol that resulted in fewer catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).
  • A 2014 article relates how oncology nurses discovered the lack of evidence for the notion that blood can only be transfused through large-bore needles. These nurses were able to make transfusions safer and more comfortable for their patients. Read the rest of this entry ?

Five Steps to Make Writing a Research Paper Less Daunting

May 28, 2015

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

By DeclanTM, via Flickr.

By DeclanTM/Flickr

It takes a certain kind of super strength to be a grad student in springtime. Some days, I’d rather sit on a bench and watch the daffodils sway in the breeze than search for citable references to back up assigned claims. But after three years of graduate study, I’ve found a method that eventually grounds me. A looming deadline helps me hunker down with all necessary objects—iPad, keyboard, headphones, dirty stares for chatty undergrads. Most of my time is spent searching, until I’m finally ready to write. Edits are fairly quick, and my adherence to APA (American Psychological Association) style comes naturally now.

My system for writing a research paper is not new or undocumented. Research papers span all disciplines, but with little structural variation—a research paper is simply that: a paper that discusses research. Once I am able to will myself to focus, my research papers can be written in five basic steps.

Write a Thesis
Writing a research paper (for a school assignment or a work evidence-based practice project) can be intimidating, but fear can be eased by starting with just one sentence. A thesis statement should say exactly what I, the writer, plan to say to you, the reader, and how I will say it. It can vary and change throughout your writing process, but it should always guide you. In research papers, the thesis statement should usually fall somewhere in your first paragraph.

To write a thesis, you must first understand your assignment. What exactly will you write about? How? What matters about your topic? If it’s for a class, what are requirements of your assignment? With an understanding of all of the paper’s elements, you can begin your first and most important sentence. A proper thesis statement of this blog post might be:

“Writing a research paper is hard for me because of the distractions of springtime sunshine. However, this is an important task in grad school, and if I stick to a process, it can be completed. This blog post will tell you about the process that works for me, and the resources you can use to implement it for yourself.”

This simple statement acts as a road map for my writing process, and also gives my readers a heads-up on what to expect:

What I’ll write about (writing a research paper in springtime).
Why I’ll write about it (I must complete research papers to graduate).
How I’ll explain myself (sharing the writing process and resources for implementation).

Once you’ve written a thesis statement and broken it down into each question (what, why, how) that it will answer, you essentially have the research paper. (Some writers literally cut the thesis statement up with scissors into a bunch of key words and phrases. I like to duplicate it in outline form.)

By looking at the separate elements of your thesis, you’ll see exactly what to research, and exactly what to write. To support my springtime thesis, for example, I’d search for articles using the key words writing, processes, springtime, distraction, writing resources, and research papers.

The actual search for thesis-backing sources should be done through an academic database, like Academic Source Complete, PubMed, or CINAHL. These databases can be found on your school or hospital’s library site, typically under “Databases.” If you’re researching for a work project, hospital libraries can sometimes be difficult to find, but they are treasure troves of information, once located, with Web sites often housed on hospital intranets.

To search for the elements of my thesis, I’d connect things in a database search box with Boolean operators, or words like AND/OR/BUT that create a research phrase. In short, I could enter: writing AND “research paper” AND nurs* AND springtime AND process. Many databases allow you to search an entire phrase, or select connecting words from drop-down menus, in addition to a whole complement of other symbols that librarians are experts on (I’ve gotten to be good friends with the Ask-A-Librarian chat function that my school provides).

Unsurprisingly, when I plugged this search into Academic Search Complete on my school’s library Web site, it brought me zero results. It’s probably safe to say that no one has written a study on springtime, nursing, and research papers. However, when I deleted springtime, my search produced 24 results. A lot of times, research for a paper is a matter of trial and error and refining your search.

Unless you’re writing about a niche topic, you’ll often end up with too many results. To narrow it down, I typically start by stripping out articles that fall outside of the publication dates specified by my professor—most nursing programs ask for studies published in the last five years. Further narrowing comes by selecting the type of article (periodical, academic journal, etc.), since most professors prefer academic, peer-reviewed journals (in some circumstances, citations of blogs of academic journals, like this one, are becoming more widely accepted). Rule of thumb: leave out sites like Wikipedia and WebMD; here are some recommendations on evaluating sources.

Your search can be repeated on Google Scholar, where you can simply input your Boolean phrase like a normal Google search. Google Scholar prominently shows how many times each article has been cited and where—a feature that easily can lead to more sources.

Organize Your Research
Once I have some studies that seem reputable, I organize them. The actual organization of studies often leads to deeper understanding of my topic. And if I follow recommended processes on literature reviews, I tend to find as well that the organization stage produces a greater sense of whether my evidence has validity. Read the rest of this entry ?


AJN Collections of Note: From Women’s Health Issues to Assessment Tools for Older Adults

May 18, 2015

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

'Nuff Said by ElektraCute / Elektra Noelani Fisher, via Flickr.

Elektra Noelani Fisher/ Flickr

It’s easy to miss, but there’s a tab at the top of the AJN home page that will take you to our collections page. There you can delve more deeply into a wide range of topics—and find many options for obtaining continuing education credits in the process.

For example, you’ll find a collection of recent continuing education (CE) feature articles devoted to women’s health issues, such as menopausal hormone therapy, cardiovascular disease prevention for women, and issues faced by young women who are BRCA positive.

The patient population in the U.S. continues to age. To gain confidence in meeting the needs of these patients, nurses can consult our practical collection of articles and videos devoted to the use of evidence-based geriatric assessment tools and best practices.

For the more creative side of nursing, we have a collection of 20 visual works and poems from our Art of Nursing column.

For those concerned with potential legal issues, it’s a good idea to have a look at the three CE articles from our Legal Clinic column on protecting your nursing license.

For would-be authors and those interested in applying knowledge to practice more effectively, there are step-by-step series on conducting a systematic review and on how nurses can implement evidence-based practice at their institutions. Read the rest of this entry ?


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