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Posts from the ‘Scholarship’ Category

Research practices to address health equity


The authors of our current featured article provide exemplars from a study exploring African American participation in research to demonstrate the use of a combined framework for analysis that examines the interactions of environment, culture, biology and history to understand the complex problems of health inequity.  The article, titled “Uniting Postcolonial, Discourse, and Linguistic Theory to Explore Participation of African Americans in Cancer Research as an Effect of Social and Historical Race Relationships” is authored by Darryl Somayaji, PhD, RN, CNS, CCRC and Kristin Gates Cloyes, PhD, RN.  They present a compelling discussion of the need to better understand the experience of African Americans as research participants, and to use this understanding to change the social and political realities of the research environment, research practices, and the teaching of research methods. Dr Somayaji shared the following account of how this work evolved:

Kristin and I are honored that our article was selected to be featured for the current issue of ANS. I was fortunate to be a doctoral student of Dr. Kristin Gates Cloyes at the University of Utah, School of Nursing. Although our clinical backgrounds and expertise are different (Kristin’s in mental health; mine in cancer and cancer research), we share a

Dr. Somayaji (left) and Dr. Cloyes

Dr. Somayaji (left) and Dr. Cloyes

common history of interest in social justice and health equity. Kristin’s knowledge and expertise in critical research was instrumental in opening my eyes to new ways of thinking about research theory and how different approaches to research can translate to practice. The article “Uniting Postcolonial, Discourse, and Linguistic Theory to Explore Participation of African Americans in Cancer Research as an Effect of Social and Historical Race Relations” is from my dissertation work on exploring African American participation in research. Our hope is that this article will illuminate the complexity of participation in cancer research, and the importance of understanding how history, relationships, and language are closely tied to research subject identity.

The article will be available at no charge while it is featured on the ANS web site!  I invite you to read this important and thought-provoking article while it is featured, and contribute your responses and thoughts on this topic by commenting here.  This is a topic that calls for ongoing and lively discussion, and we welcome the opportunity to engage using this blog!

Why concept analysis?


Concept analysis continues to be a cornerstone of many doctoral programs, but as important as this activity is, very few reach a level of development that is suitable for publication. The current featured article, titled “Concept Analysis: Method to Enhance Interdisciplinary Conceptual Understanding” explains an approach to concept analysis that can enhance the quality and worth of this very important activity.  The author of this article,  Susan Bonis, has one of the best explanations about “why” this is so important, and has provided this interesting background about her work:

It is an honor to have this article published in ANS. This method of concept analysis is a critical component of work related to understanding, defining and describing the foundation of nursing knowledge: What is nursing? What is the unique contribution of nursing to the health care arena? What is nursing research? What is nursing knowledge? Although these are not new questions, they are questions that arise almost daily. How do we respond?

This method of concept analysis is one means to provide clarification to these questions. A previous article, Knowing in Nursing: A Concept Analysis (Bonis, 2009, JAN, 65(6)) provided interesting insight to nursing knowledge, as well as to the knowledge base of other disciplines. According to the Sue-Bonis-300findings of that concept analysis, the essence of nursing is personal knowing, or the individual experience of health and illness, of medicine is technical/procedural knowing, and of behavioral health is knowing as a cognitive process. As you can see from the findings of this study, the knowledge base of each discipline is unique; therefore, the contribution of each discipline to the health care arena is unique.

Understanding how concepts are used within disciplines is critically important for nurse researchers, who tend to ‘borrow’ research instruments from other disciplines. How a concept is understood and used in nursing is not necessarily the same as how that concept is understood and used in other disciplines.  For example, the Empathy Quotient was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen (psychologist) as a diagnostic tool to differentiate between the cognitive processes related to empathy in normal-functioning adults and those with Asperger’s syndrome. Although it is a beautiful tool and very useful for diagnostic purposes, it would not be appropriate for a nurse researcher interested in understanding more about empathy as a personal experience for nursing student to use the Empathy Quotient. To do so would be a contribution to the foundation of knowledge for behavioral science, not to the foundation of nursing knowledge.

I experienced a similar situation in seeking to understand more about contentment as a quality of life for parents of children on the autism spectrum. Four research instruments focused on contentment have been developed in the behavioral sciences; each one is a diagnostic tool to measure the cognitive processes that describe depression. It would be inappropriate for me to use any one of those instruments, even though they clearly are used to measure contentment. The conceptual understanding of contentment varies greatly between nursing and behavioral science. Behavioral science uses contentment as a short term cognitive response to events in the moment. In nursing, contentment is used to describe a way of being that evolves over time; a phenomenon at a much higher level of abstraction (but then again, that brings us to another discussion related to phenomenological issues in nursing research. We’ll save that for future discussion!).

What are your thoughts on concept analysis prior to instrument selection? Are we contributing to the knowledge base of another discipline when we borrow research instruments? What about interdisciplinary collaboration? What are the challenges?

Thank you for reading the article! I hope to dialogue on this critical matter in nursing research.

Shifting the focus to public policy


The current Editor’s Pick article is an excellent example of scholarly dialogue that offers a new perspective on a problem, shifting the focus from an individual approach to a broad public policy approach.  The article is titled “Redefining Gender-Based Power to Move Beyond Interpersonal Approaches to HIV Prevention”.  The authors, Kate Louise Horton and Shari L Dworkin, recognize the value and importance of interpersonal approaches to problems of gender inequity, but examine the need to also shift to the realm of public policy in addressing a widespread problem.  Kate Horton shared this reflection on how their work evolved:

Redefining gender based power evolved from a paper originally written for Ruth Malone’s “Theories of the Policy Process” teensclass at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing. An inspirational and empowering class for a neophyte Health Policy doctoral student, it provided the inspiration to look beyond the traditional scope of nursing practice, to examine the broader context of gender-related health inequalities and the lack of policy engagement with the issue.

The article is intended to move the conversation forward, so that much needed policy attention can be garnered, to address some of the massive social and structural inequalities faced by women (and particularly women of color) that affect their health. As interdisciplinary scholars (a Nursing and Health Policy doctoral student, and a Sociology professor) the authors hope that the article challenges both policy discourses surrounding gender, power, and inequality, as well as the scope of nursing practice.

We would like to thank Ruth Malone for her inspirational teaching, and Anne Teitelman and colleagues for providing an empirical platform upon which to develop these theoretical ideas.

In the current environment of nursing and health care the prevailing focus is on individuals, and individual responsibility for health and well-being.  This article provides an excellent analysis that documents the value of shifting the focus to the public realm, the realm of public policy.  Visit the ANS web site now to download this article at no charge while it is featured!

Hoping: An exemplar of scholarly dialogue


The current “Editor’s Pick” article is an inspiration reflected in the title – “’Hoping to See the Future I Prefer’ An Element of Life-World for Older Women Living Alone” by Eileen J. Porter, PhD, RN, FGSA; Tolu O. Oyesanya, MS, RN and Kathy A. Johnson, MSN, RN.  In this article, the authors discuss their secondary analysis of  the findings of four completed phenomenologic studies that focused on the concept of “hope.”  Prior work has established a tradition in nursing of focusing on hope per se and on hope in suffering and despair.  Porter, Oyesanya and Johnson shifted their focus to the experience of day-to-day life, and discuss at length this important conceptual shift.  They conclude:porter3

Hoping emerges from one’s past, through one’s present and toward a horizon that has various degrees of clarity. We view hoping as an anticipatory stance, rather than a purposeful aim.

Their discussion reflects one of the important dimensions of scholarship – that of interaction and dialogue.  This article exemplifies an “interaction” with prior conceptualizations that pushes the discourse forward.  It acknowledges the importance and value of prior work, but also exposes the importance of a shift in focus that begins at the conceptual level.  This shift has far-reaching implications for nursing scholarship related to that which constitutes the essence of nursing – the experience of health and illness.  Visit the ANS web site now to see this inspiring article – you can download it for free while it is featured!

Challenges and changes in scholarly publishing


Whatever your interest is in the realm of scholarly publishing, one thing is clear – the landscape is changing dramatically!  The most challenging aspect of what is happening is that nobody knows exactly how things are going to evolve and what direction will be thePublishing of the future? most viable in the future.  What we do know is that the internet is destined to play an increasingly important role, but we can only imagine exactly how the internet will eventually shape the future of scholarly publishing.  Here are two important changes that I am anticipating, and the scope of change that seems possible:

  • The roles and responsibilities of publishers. The internet is making it possible for almost anyone to become a publisher, and is changing the ways that traditional publishers do business.  Publishers play a significant role in assuring certain standards of quality in their publications.  They cover the cost of getting the publication from manuscript to print and they manage the task of distribution of the product.  The internet provides Read more

Self-Plagiarism


By now most authors have at least heard this term, but it has only recently begun to be Self-Plariarism White Papermore clearly understood!  So if you are still wondering what the fuss is all about – take heed!  I won’t go into a lot of detail here because the details are described very well by in a recent post on the iThenticate Blog.  And, they have provided a white paper that you can download a copy of the white paper titled “The Ethics of Self-Plagiarism.”

There are two key points that I do want to comment on because I believe these points are important to notice, whether you have considerable familiarity with the idea of self-plagiarism, or are just learning about the concept:

  • When your work is published in a journal or a book, and you have transferred copyright to your publisher, you need to treat your own work in the same manner as you would that of a work published by someone else.  The publisher now owns the copyright, not you!
  • The basics of “fair use” of any work are not governed by strict rules.  Rather, there are guidelines that help to determine how much of a published work, yours or anyone else’s, can be legally (or even ethically) quoted and cited.  Many publishers have their own guidelines concerning how much of a published work can be cited without obtaining the copyright holder’s permission.  So become familiar with not only general “fair use” guidelines, but also the guidelines of your publisher.

The Copyright Clearance Center has an excellent 6-minute video that explains the basics of copyright, including the basics of fair use.  Watch it, and make sure everyone on your team knows that this resource is available.  

Evaluating Web (and other) resources


In just the past few short years, the World Wide Web has become like a physical library.  Academic libraries, to a significant degree, now provide journal articles

WWW imageto their constituents as PDF files, replacing the old, large, and very popular “copy machine” room housed in their physical spaces.  A natural extension of this is the use of material “published” on the web as a resource not unlike that accessed through an academic library.

The developer of the Web (and current director of W3C, the organization that oversees Web standards) Tim Berners-Lee, established a vision of the World Wide Web as a valuable tool that would democratize knowledge, making access to valuable information accessible to all regardless of wealth, social standing, race, or any other factor. However, in many academic circles, Web resources are still regarded with skepticism and Web articles are not considered valid scholarly resources, except where a Web site is itself the subject of the investigation or is used to make a particular point.

Rather than simply dismiss Web resources, it is time to recognize the Web and its wealth of information as an opportunity to sharpen our abilities to discern a valid resource from one that is less than valid, and to refine the criteria by which we make this assessment.  Indeed, as the management team of the popular Wikipedia.org clearly states in their own guidelines on “Researching with Wikipedia”, the veracity of information published in the Wikipedia should be judged in ways similar to standards used for any other resource.

Here are “ABCSS” guidelines that I recommend in deciding on the credibility of any resource, web or otherwise:

Agency.  Is the author of the work clearly identified? Are the author’s professional affiliations and qualifications clearly identified? Is there a clearly identified way for me to contact the author if I have questions or concerns about the work? 

Bias.  Everything has a bias!  Does the author identify their perception of their own perspective on the subject?  What bias, standpoint, or perspective is implicitly embedded in the work?  How does bias potentially shape or influence what is published?

Corroboration.  How does the information in this source compare to what I find in other resources?  If it is wildly at odds with other resources, and the source can be identified as having value for my work, how can I explain the difference? 

Sponsorship.  Is the work sponsored, funded, or “commissioned” by an organization of any kind?  If so, what is the nature of that organization and do they have an explicit or implicit interest in what is published?

Scholarly value.  Do the methods used and the logic presented meet generally accepted standards of investigation, ethics and logic?  Are the sources that the author used clearly identified, and can I trace those sources accurately?

In fact, in my view the Web actually has greater power to demonstrate each of these guidelines much more explicitly than does print media.  Print media is limited by space and cost constraints that greatly constrain the kind of background information that is important to fully understand the worth of that which is published.  

In evaluating Web resources, I believe we can and should expect each and every one of the ABCSS to be clearly evident.  If they are not, unless there is some strong justification otherwise, the source needs to be eliminated from serious consideration.  What are your thoughts, and what shifts might you recommend for the ABCSS guidelines?  

The “Cs” of Scholarship


Several years ago I created a kind of template to use in talking about some of the mysteries of good scholarship.  The handout I used made its way around the world and with some regularity I received requests for copies of the handout!  So in mythe letter C Editorial in ANS Vol 22, No 2, I published a version of this handout.  With permission of our publisher, I am presenting this once again here, along with yet another pair of “C’s”!

The “C’s” in this list represent contrasting traits that we seek in the best of scholarship.  Some of the pairs seem like contradictions, but in fact, they have a Read more

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