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Spreading the knowledge faster

Digital technology offers the chance to get peer-reviewed information out to professionals much more quickly, writes Sandra Campbell-Crofts.

Publication of contemporary nursing knowledge is important for the translation of this material to the clinical arena. The speed of access and digital functionality is an important issue within the context of our rapidly changing technological environment.

The number of scientific journals worldwide is increasing with nursing journals playing an increasingly important role in the dissemination of contemporary nursing education knowledge.

However, nursing journal editors face challenges in adhering to the traditional views of journal based publications while embracing the technological revolution of the multimedia interactive nursing knowledge generation.

In recent years, The Australian Nurse Teachers’ Society (ANTS) has been debating the issues involved in the formation of a new Australian peer reviewed nursing journal devoted exclusively to the publication of scholarly literature surrounding nursing education. The debate centres on developing a traditional hard copy journal or to utilise the exciting opportunities available in the online medium.

Book form is recognised as being the slowest format to disseminate nursing knowledge with journal publication being slightly faster. However, some international nursing journals with their linear and traditionally constrained blind peer review are slow to disseminate nursing knowledge, sometimes taking over a year from manuscript submission to publication.

Open access journals allow nursing knowledge to be easily accessed without the user paying subscriptions to that journal. Although annual journal subscriptions ensure the financial viability of the journal, this subscription requirement limits knowledge access and therefore knowledge dissemination. Interestingly, the translation of nursing education knowledge has been facilitated with the newer digital technologies for knowledge dissemination progressively becoming more mainstream. These include iPhone apps, as well as online wikis and personal diary blogs.

The use of digital technologies is an engagement strategy rather than being a hindrance to the dissemination of nursing education literature. Digital functionality has freed nurses from the difficulties of accessing hard copy scholarly nursing literature.

Scholarly nursing education literature can now be accessed by both student and academic either in the home, internet cafe or health facility/university campus and can be obtained at any hour of the day or night. Email subject alerts from Google Scholar, Medscape or Wiley Science Direct deliver specified information online with the “live” reference list making life much easier by allowing readers to click on the reference and be taken directly to that journal article. Further areas for research are suggested on the sidebars of the article.

Use of iPhones in the clinical arena has revolutionised nursing practice with apps such as MIMS Online being routinely used to check medication information during medication rounds. Social networking is becoming increasingly popular with nursing literature being placed on Facebook either by the author or by a research trawler website. Free access to articles can be achieved by clicking on “LIKE”.

Launched in 1975, ANTS has continued to publish a quarterly e-bulletin where stories from nurse teachers around Australia can be disseminated. In 2010 the bulletin moved from a print newsletter to a fully online format which has significantly reduced publication costs and has freed the editor from adhering to a set number of pages per issue. The ANTS e-bulletin is now predominantly read by members on their iPhone or computer laptop.

Journal impact factors, traditionally used to assess the quality of a journal are calculated on citation rates over the previous two years. An interesting read is Eugene Gar field’s (2005) The agony and the ecstasy – the history and the meaning of the journal impact factor.

ANTS recognises that nursing academics by necessity must aim to publish in high-impact nursing journals with opportunities to publish in Australian peer reviewed scholarly nursing education literature being extremely limited.

Currently scholarly nursing education literature can be published in Contemporary Nurse (impact factor 0.5) or Collegian, the refereed journal of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia (impact factor 0.822). However, most authors of Australian nursing education literature choose to submit their manuscripts to international nurse education journals such as Nurse Education Today (impact factor 1.442) or Nurse Education Perspectives (impact factor 0.22). In 1999, a fully online Australian Electronic Journal of Nursing Education was launched but folded as this publication format was ahead of its time.

ANTS recognises that obtaining an impact factor that would encourage nurse academics to publish in a nursing education journal will be a challenge. Therefore, the most appealing strategy is to continue publishing nurse education stories in the ANTS e-bulletin with an attached section of the ANTS e-bulletin being exclusively devoted to peer-reviewed scholarly nursing education articles.

This new scholarly nursing education journal aims to provide a positive mentoring forum for nurse teachers who are novice authors. Over time, with increased publication submissions, an impact factor satisfying the demands of the tertiary teaching sector may be achieved.

One editorial strategy that the new ANTS nurse education journal may choose to use is post publication review, where the manuscript is placed online with minimal editing. It will then be up to members to supply peer review through online discussion to the ANTS website.  This format will require minimal input from the ANTS nurse education journal editorial board, more articles will be able to be published and scholarly nursing education knowledge can be disseminated quicker due to the reduced lag time than occurs during the formal blind peer review process.

Sandra Campbell-Crofts is the vice-president of the Australian Nurse Teachers’ Society and its immediate past president. Contact: [email protected]

The ANTS e-bulletin is calling for submissions from nurse teachers and for volunteers for the ANTS peer-review editorial board. For more information contact new editor, Karen Simunov [email protected]

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