Status: Refereed paper
EARLY AUSTRALIAN NURSING SCHOLARSHIP: THE FIRST DECADE OF THE AJAN
PART 3: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SCHOLARS AND SCHOLARSHIP
This study investigates the relationship between characteristics of authors and articles in the first decade of the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing (AJAN), the dominant periodical in Australian nursing scholarship. It explores relationships between the characteristics of authors such as gender, level of employment, qualifications and state of employment, and characteristics of articles such as type of scholarship and research focus. Cross tabulations were used to determine relationships. There was little difference in the types of scholarship for nurses and non-nurses except in the area of research scholarship. Nurse-academics were more inclined towards theoretical scholarship and behavioural science conceptual frameworks than other nurse-authors. The senior academics were more likely to publish theoretical papers and the junior academics to publish clinical papers. There were some gender differences for type of clinical scholarship. These relationships reflect historical trends.
EARLY AUSTRALIAN NURSING SCHOLARSHIP: THE FIRST DECADE OF THE AJAN
PART 3: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SCHOLARS AND SCHOLARSHIP
This is the final part of a three-part work that has analysed the state of Australian nursing scholarship in the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing (AJAN). The purpose of this work has been to depict Australian nursing scholars and their scholarship during a period of major change in nursing education, the domain that produces the majority of nursing scholarship (McConnell and Paech 1993; Roberts 1995b; Roberts 1995c). Nursing education had just undergone a transition period in which it was transferred from hospital schools into higher education institutions. The period of the transfer was approximately the same as the period of the literature under investigation in this study. Documentation of the scholarship during this period was reflecting both the early scholarship of the discipline and the early days of higher education for nurses.
The first part investigates the scholars (Roberts 1995b), part two investigates the scholarship (Roberts 1995c), and this part investigates the relationships between scholars and scholarship (Roberts 1995d). Specifically, this part of the study seeks to determine whether there are any relationships between characteristics of the authors such as nursing profession membership, gender, level of academic appointment and membership of academia, and characteristics of the articles such as focus, use of theoretical framework, research design and time of publication. Understanding the relationship between the types of authors and types of articles will help nursing leaders to encourage individuals to undertake relevant scholarship. This knowledge can also help to establish appropriate standards for scholarship in the discipline. This will in turn assist nursing to adapt to the tertiary education system and advance the discipline of nursing.
The conceptual framework of this part of the study is a combination of the first two parts. In summary, a scholar is a person who develops or integrates knowledge based on theory, research, and practice (Roberts 1995b). Scholarship is the "creative intellectual activity that involves generation, evaluation, synthesis and integration of knowledge based on theory, research, and practice" (Roberts 1995). Scholarship in nursing comprises three types: theoretical scholarship, research scholarship and clinical scholarship (Roberts 1995c). This conceptual framework was used in Part one and Part two to analyse the articles and authors. Previous FindingsThe first part of this study found that nurse principal authors in the AJAN were predominantly female, senior nurse-academics with postgraduate qualifications, employed in the higher education sector and working in the state of Victoria. The second part found that the published articles were predominantly research reports about clinical practice with medical-surgical clients. There were very few changes in the characteristics of either authors or articles throughout the decade. So far, no one has published a study about the relationship between the authors and the articles.
This study used a correlational design to investigate the interactions between the variables concerning the authors and those concerning the articles. Since every article was used in the analysis, some authors who had multiple publications as first authors were included more than once. Since there were few authors in this category and many articles, the impact of duplication of authors on the statistics would have been negligible. All of the articles were used to explore the relationship between nursing profession membership and characteristics of the articles. Only those articles for which the principal author was a nurse were used to explore the other relationships. Only those articles for which the principal author was a nurse-academic were used for relationships between level of academic and characteristics of articles. There were too few clinical scholarship articles written by nurse-academics to allow exploration of relationships for this category.
This part of the study used the same data and categories for analysis as Parts 1 and 2. Cross-tabulations were used to explore the relationships given above. Since this study included the whole population of articles, inferential statistics were not used. All data were analysed using the StatView program.
Membership of the Nursing Profession
Most articles (86%) had nurses as principal authors. The proportion of research, theoretical and clinical scholarship articles published by nurse principal authors was as expected on the basis of their proportion in the group of authors. Non-nurses were almost twice as likely as expected (25%) to publish theoretical articles about research methodology but there was no real difference for other types of theoretical scholarship.
Research scholarship articles had proportionally more non-nurse principal authors than expected in the area of practitioners' characteristics (30%) and there was no difference for research about clinical practice, education praxis, administration, the health care system, or the practitioner's role. All research articles using exclusively qualitative methodology had nurse principal authors, whereas there was no difference for articles using the quantitative methodology exclusively or mixed methodology. There was no difference for research design.
There was the same proportion of nurse principal authors in both halves of the decade (86%). However, there was some variation in individual volumes of the journal. In Volume 2 the proportion of nurse principal authors was lowest at 64%, and in Volume 3 it was highest at 95%. In the last half of the decade, it fluctuated less than in the first half, ranging between 78% and 93%.
Membership of the Academy
Nurse-academics accounted for 58% of all nurse principal authors, while other nurses (hospital based and community based) accounted for 40% and students accounted for the remainder. There was no real difference for authorship of clinical or research scholarship although there was a tendency for theoretical scholarship articles to have proportionally more nurse- academic authors (67%) than expected.
Nurse-academics accounted for 44% of all nurse-principal authors using a theoretical framework. There was no difference between nurse-academics and other nurses for whether or nor a theoretical framework was used, but articles using a social science framework were more likely than expected to have a nurse-academic as principal author (65%) and those using a biomedical science theoretical framework were more likely than expected (86%) to have a principal author who was not a nurse-academic principal author.
Level of Nurse-academic
Articles with a nurse-academic as first author were written primarily by senior lecturers (35%) and the professoriate (associate professor and professor) (27%), although these two groups combined comprise less than one-quarter of all nurse-academics, according to an analysis of staff lists of university calendars carried out by the author.
There was very little difference in type of scholarship according to level of nurse-academic. There was a tendency for theoretical scholarship articles to have fewer professorial level nurse-academics as first authors (17%) than would have been expected. There was also a tendency for articles with a theoretical framework to have a higher proportion of professorial first authors than expected (36%).
Articles in the research scholarship category were written in almost equal proportions by lecturers (31%), senior lecturers (33%) and the professoriate (35%), which again suggests over-representation at the senior levels. Within this group of articles, those concerning clinical practice were more likely than expected to be written by lecturer level nurse-academics (58%) while those concerning non-clinical topics were more likely than expected to be written by the professoriate and those concerning students and practitioners were more likely than expected to be written by senior lecturers (53%).
For all articles in which the principal author was a nurse, females were principal author on 86%. The figure of 86% is slightly different from that of authors given in Part 1, because in that analysis, repeat articles were omitted. There was virtually no gender difference for the two halves of the decade. While 14% of analysed articles had a male as the principal author, articles with a theoretical or clinical scholarship focus were more likely than expected to have a male principal author (20%). Research scholarship articles were less likely than expected to have a male principal author (9%).
While one-fifth of clinical scholarship articles had a male as principal author, principal authors in the areas of mental health were exclusively male, while principal authors in gerontology, midwifery, paediatrics, and community health were exclusively female. There was virtually no difference for gender of principal author in medical-surgical or general nursing articles.
Research scholarship articles showed some gender difference. While 10% of these were written by male principal authors, they were more likely than expected to have a male as first author in the areas of education practice (17%), the health system (100%), history (33%), and students (25%). Research articles on the practitioner's role and research method had females exclusively as first authors. All articles using a qualitative research approach had females as principal authors, while there was no difference for quantitative approach and mixed mode articles were twice as likely as expected to have a male principal author (20%).
There was no gender difference for whether a theoretical framework was used or not. For those articles that had a theoretical framework, males accounted for 13%. Articles using an education framework were more likely than expected to have a male author (43%) whereas articles using a social science framework were half as likely as expected to have a male author (6%). All articles using a biomedical framework had female first authors but this difference disappeared if articles by non-nurse principal authors were included. The proportions of articles by male and female first authors for nursing theoretical frameworks closely reflected their proportions in the population.
Membership of the nursing profession, membership of the Academy, level of appointment and gender have some relationship to the type of article published. There were few differences in the type of articles produced by nurses and non-nurses, except in the area of practitioners' characteristics, which one could reasonably expect to have attracted the attention of social scientists. The finding that nurses were the exclusive users of qualitative methodology probably reflects a movement by nurse-scholars away from the quantitative paradigm. With the establishment of nursing as a discipline in its own right, some researchers have recognised that many nursing questions are best answered by a more qualitative approach, and are shaping their research accordingly.
There were some differences in the type of article written by nurse-academics and other nurses. These findings probably reflect the scholarly endeavours of nurse-academics while enrolled for university degrees during this period. The use of social science frameworks by nurse-academic authors is probably related to their study of social science during this period.
The finding that the majority of articles written by nurse-academics was written by senior staff was not surprising as they have the most experience with writing. Since publications affect prospects of promotion, it is of concern that the junior staff are not publishing more. It is not surprising that the clinical scholarship articles tended to be written by junior staff since they are frequently more involved in clinical teaching.
The gender differences reflect an historical influence, with a higher proportion of males in mental health than other areas of nursing, and slightly over-represented in nursing academia in comparison to their proportions in nursing generally (Reid 1994). This part of the study, like the others, also suffers from being limited to articles in one journal and further research is needed to determine whether these effects are valid for the broader picture of scholarship. Since other journals have appeared near the end of the first decade of the AJAN, there will probably be a greater diversity of published articles to analyse.
There was little difference in the types of scholarship for nurses and non-nurses except in the area of research scholarship. Nurse-academics were more inclined towards theoretical scholarship and behavioural science conceptual frameworks than other nurse-authors. The senior nurse-academics were more likely to publish theoretical papers and the junior nurse-academics to publish clinical papers. There were some gender differences for type of clinical scholarship. The most striking finding about the relationships between authors and articles is that they reflect historical trends. Nursing scholarship is still in its infancy (Lumby 1991), but it is likely that further changes in the shape of the relationship between scholars and scholarship will occur as they mature along with the development of the discipline.
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