Methodological Quality and Scientific Impact of Quantitative Nursing Education Research over 18 Months

Article excerpt

Abstract The methodological quality of nursing education research has not been rigorously studied. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the methodological quality and scientific impact of nursing education research reports. The methodological quality of 133 quantitative nursing education research articles published between July 2006 and December 2007 was evaluated using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI). The mean ([+ or -] SD) MERSQI score was 9.8 [+ or -] 2.2. It correlated (p < .05) with several scientific impact indicators: citation counts from Scopus (r = .223), Google Scholar (r = .224), and journal impact factor (r = .216); it was not associated with Web of Science citation count, funding, or h Index. The similarities between this study's MERSQI ratings for nursing literature and those reported for the medical literature, coupled with the association with citation counts, suggest that the MERSQI is an appropriate instrument to evaluate the quality of nursing education research.

Key Words Citation Rate--Impact Factor--Methodological Quality--Nursing Education Research

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RESEARCH IN NURSING EDUCATION HAS EVOLVED DURING THE PAST 50 YEARS. From 1957 to 1982, nursing research predominately focused on nurse preparation (Stevens & Cassidy, 1999). In the 1980s, coinciding with the establishment of the National Center for Nursing Research in 1985 and its transition to the National Institute of Nursing Research in 1993, the focus began to shift to clinical issues. The result has been that little, if any, funding is directed toward educational research.

Despite the shift in focus, some researchers in the 1980s continued to aspire to understand the nature of research in nursing education. Tanner and Lindeman (1987), using a Delphi survey technique, concurred that "research in nursing education can and should meet criteria for scientific merit applied to other areas of scientific investigation" (p. 50). Furthermore, while the proportional emphasis of nursing research in the United States is no longer on education, nursing education studies continue to increase in frequency. From 70 published studies during the period 1976 to 1982 (an average of 12 per year), the total grew to 423 from 1988 to 1991 (105 per year); 1,963 articles were published for the period 1993 to 1997 (393 per year) (Stevens & Cassidy, 1999). An evaluation of the nursing education research literature published between January 1991 and December 2000 (Yonge et al., 2005) showed the most common topics to be continuing education and patient education, with more than 100 articles focused on each of these two topics.

Today, nursing education research falls short of where it could be. Writing in a 2009 Nursing Outlook editorial, Broome noted the limited data available to demonstrate the most effective and efficient methods to produce nurses capable of caring for patients in our complex and fragmented health care system. Broome identified a need to build the evidence base for nursing education.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report (2011) included research priorities for transforming nursing education: "Nursing education needs to be transformed in a number of ways to prepare nursing graduates to work collaboratively and effectively with other health professionals in a complex and evolving health care system in a variety of settings" (p. 164). To achieve IOM goals, the methodological rigor of nursing education research must be improved so that studies are replicable, fundable, and provide direction for improving the education of the nursing workforce.

Funding Shortage Current research dollars are insufficient to support professional education studies, both in nursing and in other disciplines and professions (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010; Broome, 2009). For a study of published medical education research, Reed, Kern, Levine, and Wright (2005) surveyed first authors of studies published in 13 prominent peer-reviewed journals in 2002-2003. …

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