Nurse Editor Survey Findings Inform a White Paper on Student Publication: Faculty and Student Resources

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 8:20 AM

Jacqueline K. Owens, PhD
Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Ashland University, Mansfield, OH, USA
Julia Muennich Cowell, PhD, MSN
Department of Community, Systems and Mental Health Nursing, Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago, IL, USA
Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, FAAN
American Journal of Nursing, Wolters Kluwer Health, New York, NY, USA
Charon Ann Pierson, PhD, MS, BA
Independent consultant, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Gilbert, AZ, USA
Jamesetta A. Newland, PhD
Graduate Department, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York City, NY, USA

Nursing students enrolled in graduate programs are often encouraged to submit scholarly work to nursing journals for consideration for publication. Expected outcomes for graduates, based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Master’s and Doctoral Essentials (AACN 2011, 2006) and specialty organizations such as the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) include competencies in verbal and written communication (Thomas et al., 2014). Nursing programs often include requirements such as query letters, letters to the editor about published content, and submission of full manuscripts. Challenges arise when faculty in schools of nursing identify the submission of a manuscript as a requirement for graduation. Many manuscripts or course assignment papers do not meet journal standards and consume valuable resources from editors (and publishers) in the review process. Writing for publication is a process over time and not a one-time assignment.

In August 2014, attendees at an international annual meeting of nurse editors voiced frustration over a surge in the submissions of query letters and student papers that were poorly written. A workgroup was created to further explore the issue of student papers and implications for scholarly publishing. The goal was to create a document providing guidance for student papers for students, faculty, and editors. Review of the literature revealed quality resources available to support writing efforts (Carter-Templeton, 2015; Cleary, Lopez, Jackson, & Hungerford, 2014; Gazza & Hunker, 2012; Watson, 2013) however anecdotal evidence from informal editor discussions suggested such additional factors as unrealistic expectations for student publication, lack of student and/or faculty commitment to the process, and insufficient faculty mentors with experience and expertise to guide student publications. No formal inquiry specific to student publications was found.

In January 2015 a survey constructed by the workgroup was administered electronically via a listserv to members of the editor group. Participation was anonymous and implied consent. Fifty-three (53) editors responded to the survey composed of three Likert-type questions and six open-ended questions. The survey addressed frequency of submissions, educational level of student authors, and descriptions of common problems. Also included were concerns with papers as course requirements, such as whether or not authors should identify the manuscript as a course requirement, how editors perceive the role of faculty, and how they address student submissions that fall short of journal standards. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and content analysis, as appropriate. Quantitative data revealed that student paper concerns were an issue for editors across all levels of nursing programs. Six themes emerged from the qualitative data: 1) submissions fail to follow author guidelines, 2) characteristics of student submissions, 3) lack of professional behavior from students, 4) lack of professional behavior from faculty, 5) editor responses to student submissions, and 6) faculty as mentors. Survey findings were the basis for the next step, recommendations and strategies to improve student scholarly writing.

Findings revealed that editors supported facilitating the work of new scholars in their efforts to become published authors, noting that many would ultimately produce meaningful, scholarly contributions to nursing literature. Faculty engagement is an integral part of student success, and inavailability of skilled faculty mentors either due to lack of expertise or time, was a notable gap. The workgroup has since developed a White Paper based on survey findings and input from the 2015 annual editors’ meeting to assist both faculty mentors and students in the writing process. The White Paper includes multiple resources specifically included to address concerns identified in the survey. This session will review the workgroup survey findings as they have been aligned and incorporated with appropriate resources in the evidence based White Paper. Examples of problems to be discussed may include: poor writing skills, lack of English language proficiency, poor organization, inappropriate format, or use of references, plagiarism, lack of synthesis of ideas, and lack of topic expertise. The primary focus of the session will be to emphasize specific concerns identified related to student publications and resources for both faculty and students that may be helpful to address these challenges. The audience will have an opportunity to select one or two resources for in-depth discussion. Implications for the nursing profession related to this session include supporting professional development of nurses at the individual level seeking to disseminate topic expertise and/or research findings; increasing the ability of nurses to contribute to the publishing process; and improving the quality and quantity of the nursing literature to inform healthcare practice.