1. Section Editor(s): Chinn, Peggy L. PhD, RN, FAAN
  2. Editor

Article Content


The advances that have taken place in nursing methodologies over the life of Advances in Nursing Science (ANS) are stunning. When ANS began in 1978, nurse scholars were in the early stages of exploring nursing theory-what it is, whether nursing could and should have its own theories, and what about borrowed theory? The first 2 issues of the journal focused on the topic of "Practice-Oriented Theory," based on the ideas introduced in 1971 by Dickoff, James, and Wiedenbach.1 Their work remains among the most influential in the history of nursing scholarship.


In the early ANS issues, various approaches to concept analysis appeared with some regularity and today concept analysis remains a cornerstone of many doctoral programs. Over the years, many different approaches to the process of concept analysis have evolved, with increasing sophistication, as articles in this issue of the journal illustrate. Another trend in nursing scholarship that appeared early in the history of ANS is the ongoing development of various qualitative methodologies. In fact, nursing as a discipline has been at the forefront in the human sciences in developing methods drawn from qualitative traditions.


It is interesting that these 2 trends emerged at a time when nursing was just beginning to gain standing in the academic world as a well-regarded and credible scientific discipline, and some nurse scholars held the view that if nursing were to become well established as a discipline, we should follow the path of traditional empiric science. Over time, a general consensus emerged acknowledging the importance of traditional empirics while integrating the important insights that were emerging from less traditional approaches.


There are a number of reasons that nursing has taken this path of methodological diversity. From my perspective, this path has been inevitable. It represents a fundamental commitment in nursing to 2 underlying values-the search for wholeness and meaning. At the same time, nursing has a strong tradition of pragmatism, both in practice and in theory, reflected in the early Dickoff, James, and Wiedenbach perspective on theory. Today, to our credit, nurse scholars remain engaged with the dialectic tension between philosophy (wholeness and meaning) and practice-between what we know and what we do. Nursing scholarship reflects a wonderfully complex array of approaches to addressing this tension, with amazing insights and approaches that are significant for the future of our discipline.


Today, nursing stands at the brink of massive social, economic, technological, and political changes in health care worldwide. The abiding commitments to both philosophy and practice means that we can influence debates and decisions so that pragmatic solutions are well informed by underlying meanings that affect how people experience health and health care. This is a mammoth challenge for our discipline, and one for which nursing is well equipped. As you read the articles in this issue, I believe you will see the significance of nursing scholarship for many practical challenges in health care. Visit to follow more commentary about each of these articles over the weeks ahead, and post your comments and ideas along the way!


-Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN






1. Dickoff J, James P, Wiedenbach E. Theory in a practice discipline, part 1: practice-oriented theory. Nurs Res. 1968;17(5):415-435. [Context Link]