In my travels, I frequently talk with nurses eager to share new ideas or tell me about techniques they're using on the job. But when I suggest that they write about their ideas or experiences, I'm likely to get a stunned look that says, "Who, me?"
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How disappointing that nurses with something to say don't think they have what it takes to write for a professional journal. Many believe-wrongly-that they need a doctoral degree or a reputation as an expert to write with authority. If only academics and "gurus" wrote for Nursing2007, we wouldn't be able to offer the practical, hands-on information so valuable to nurses who care for patients every day.
We welcome clinical articles from any nurse who has something important to share. We also encourage you to submit your most memorable experiences about the joys and sorrows of patient care. (See page 59 for details about our annual writing contest.)
Just as a patient's plan of care is a road map for your nursing interventions, taking certain steps improves your chance of getting published. To write about a practice topic, follow these tips:
* Narrow your focus. A comprehensive review of a broad topic is too much for a journal article, so if diabetes is your area of interest, you might zero in on caring for patients who use insulin pumps. To narrow your focus, review cumulative indexes of multiple journals to learn what they've recently published and think about what they might have overlooked.
* Query an editor. Send an e-mail to "sell" your topic by explaining why nurses will want to read about it. If the editor is interested, ask for the journal's author guidelines and find out how long your manuscript should be.
* Research the topic. Immerse yourself by reading more than you think you need to know, and then plan to express your thoughts in your own writing. Using someone else's words or ideas without giving them credit is plagiarism and destroys your credibility.
* Plan your writing. Outline your major points, and stick to them as you write.
* Write the way you speak. Whether you prepare a clinical article or personal account, use active voice. Avoid long sentences and lofty terms-imagine that you're talking with colleagues, not professors.
At the Web sites below, you can find author guidelines for many nursing journals and brief but excellent information about writing and plagiarism. I encourage you to visit.
Do you have what it takes to be an author? Give it a try-you may surprise yourself.
Cheryl L. Mee, RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN