One of the reasons I love my job is that it feels worthwhile. I and the rest of the practice team may not be actually delivering patient care, but we are helping you to do so. We do this by publishing double-blind peer reviewed articles, written in plain English by experts in their fields and focusing on the implications for nursing practice.
We often come up against a barrier when inviting these people to write for us - their universities insist that they only write for journals with an impact factor
While many of our authors are nurses working in clinical practice, a substantial proportion work in higher education. However, we often come up against a barrier when inviting these people to write for us - their universities insist that they only write for journals with an impact factor. This is a method of assessing the value of research through the number of times articles are cited by other authors.
The IF has a huge influence on universities’ ability to attract funding for future research, so I can entirely understand their wish to focus on journals with an impact factor. However, nursing journals with a high impact factor tend to be the highly academic or specialist titles. These have small circulations, and few of their readers are likely to be providing hands-on patient care. So a lot of excellent research, with real implications for nursing care and patient outcomes is barely seen by the nurses who could really use it. And the people undertaking the research are frustrated that their valuable work is not being circulated widely.
The method of evaluating the quality of universities’ research is due to change in 2013. From then, universities will have to demonstrate that it has an impact outside academic circles. Quite how has yet to be finally determined, but they are likely to be required to provide case studies. This will involve huge amounts of work on the part of universities, to set up relationships with clinicians who can put their research into practice or track down instances of it being used, then additional form-filling.
It seems to me that a useful addition to the new evaluation structure would be to encourage universities to ensure their research is disseminated to a wider range of publications. Of course I’m biased, I think nurse researchers should be required to submit all research that adds to the nursing evidence base straight to us at Nursing Times. However, I’d settle for them being encouraged to ensure their research is published somewhere that gives it a good chance of being seen by the people who can use it to make a difference.
A large proportion of universities’ research is publicly funded. That means you and I pay for it.
Doesn’t that mean we should benefit from its findings when they could improve the healthcare we receive?