Advancing Nursing Education Science: An Analysis of the NLN's Grants Program 2008-2010

Article excerpt

RESEARCH

ABSTRACT The National League for Nursing has responded to the increasing need for nursing education research through its grant program. Significant growth in proposals has intensified competition for funds and challenged the Nursing Education Research Advisory Council's review process. The purpose of this article is to explore the NLN's nursing education research proposals from 2008 to 2010 in order to improve performance and provide guidance to future nursing education researchers. Beginning with the 2008 grant cycle, a database was developed to assist in performance improvement. A total of 113 proposals were submitted; of those, 24 were funded for a success rate of greater than 21 percent. Various designs and samples were employed and all geographic regions of the United States were represented. Inter-rater reliability among reviewers remained high and the scientific rigor of proposals steadily increased. Increased funding from other sources is urgently needed to build the science of nursing education.

Key Words Nursing Education Research--Nursing Science--Grant Funding--Peer Review

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IN A 2007 POSITION STATEMENT, the National League for Nursing (NLN) Board of Governors identified "an urgent need to provide significant funds to support research that will build the science of nursing education." Within the past decade, the NLN addressed this need by funding 75 grants amounting to more than $500,000. During this time period, 212 grant applications focused on nursing education research were submitted and reviewed by members of the NLN Nursing Education Research Advisory Council (NERAC).

Although the need for nursing education research has been identified by others (Ferguson & Day, 2005; Schultz, 2009; Valiga, 2006), a continuing shortage of funds for such research undermines evidence-based teaching and learning, program evaluation, and the development of innovative educational approaches designed to meet the needs of individuals, families, and communities in an ever-challenging health care environment. A similar dilemma has been noted in medicine (Tavakol, Murphy, Rahemei-Madeseh, & Torabi, 2008). It is clear that additional sources of funding for educational research are needed if nurses and other clinicians are to be prepared for the complex, high-stakes settings in which they will practice.

Because the NLN is one of the few supporters of nursing education research, potential researchers must vie for funding. Hence, the quality of submitted proposals has steadily improved, and the findings from funded research have substantially added to nursing education science. To assist potential nursing education researchers, NERAC members have offered "Tips for Success" workshops at the annual NLN Education Summit and via audio-web seminar (webinar). In addition, starting in 2008, NERAC standardized its review process, created succinct web-based documents such as frequently asked questions (FAQs), enhanced communication processes, and collected data for use in performance improvement.

This manuscript details an analysis of proposals received from 2008 to 2010. The goal is to provide interested researchers with another source of guidance as they prepare future proposals.

Background In the early 1980s, the NLN created the Council for Research in Nursing Education and made a commitment to provide funds to support small investigator research projects. With NLN restructuring in 2000, four advisory councils were established, including NETIMAC, the Nursing Education Research, Technology, and Information Management Advisory Council. In 2004, NETIMAC was split into two advisory councils: ETIMAC (Educational Technology and Information Management Advisory Council) and NERAC (Nursing Education Research Advisory Council).

NERAC's purpose, as stated on the NLN website, is "to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning through providing leadership in the development of the science of nursing education, supporting nursing education research, and promoting evidence-based teaching and learning" (www. …

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