1. Carroll, V. Susan Editor

Article Content

As healthcare professionals, we are bombarded with information every day-information about our patients and their needs, information about the healthcare systems in which we work, and information that appears in lay and professional online and print literature. As a result, each of us must make decisions about how, why, and what information we filter. These decisions may reflect personal interests, work-related educational needs, available reading time, or the length of a particular article.

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In this issue, JNN begins offering an "Executive Summary" feature designed to highlight a particular clinical topic, issue, technologic advance, or treatment option relevant to our readers. What, you ask, is an executive summary? Simply put, an executive summary is an overview. Used in business, it is a short document that summarizes a longer report, proposal, or group of reports in a way that readers can quickly become acquainted with a larger body of material. Many newspapers include an executive summary in the daily business section to guide readers to significant content.


Executive summaries are typically very short and frequently summarize more than a single document. They may or may not make recommendations for action but are intended as aids to decisionmaking. Executive summaries are more comprehensive than abstracts; abstracts appear at the beginning of a manuscript, thesis, review, or conference proceedings and serve as the point-of-entry for the reader.


Executive summaries are also generally not integrative reviews of the literature. Integrative reviews are a form of research that review, critique, and synthesize representative literature on a topic so that new frameworks or models, new taxonomies, research agendas, or meta-analyses are created. These reviews are "research of research" and are conducted with the same degree of scientific rigor and intensity as other research. Some governmental and private sector agencies do produce executive summaries that mirror the work of integrative reviews, but these vary from the more typical business model.


The summaries you will find in JNN might be easier to conceptualize and use in practice if thought of as advance organizers. Advance organizers have been included in teachers' tool boxes for decades. In a classroom, advance organizers set the stage for the learner (insert "reader" here). They connect new ideas or information to an existing knowledge base and build on previous learning and skills. Teachers use a variety of structures for advance organizers-narrative (story), expository (descriptions of new or more detailed information), and graphics (tables, figures, flow charts). In JNN you will find an expository format.


This new feature takes JNN down a new path that we hope will benefit our readers. The medium through which new information is presented and delivered can impact the ways in which it is actually used clinically. Send us your feedback. Tell us if this feature is useful and meaningful. Finally, send us ideas for future summaries.

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