1. Section Editor(s): Fulton, Janet S. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, ANEF, FAAN

Article Content

Writing for publications serves many purposes. Publication of one's scholarly work is a professional behavior and a standard-bearer for excellence in performance. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal demonstrates the value of a scholarly work as judged by peers. Publication moves science forward and invites others to adopt or adapt the same methods for similar problems, leading to dissemination of additional findings, thus creating a body of knowledge about a particular problem of interest. Typically, scientists contribute findings from research; clinicians contribute findings from application of research in practice. Over time, scientists and clinicians with like interests influence the problem, its solutions, and each other. A path forward emerges with each individual work forming a collective effort.


Scientific work is always a work in progress. There will be blind alleys, false starts, and missed attempts. Everyone likes it when their research findings show significant results consistent with the study hypotheses or the program achieves the stated goals and objectives. If it were a perfect world, all our outcomes would be as anticipated. But, alas, such is not the case. Many studies fail to find significance, and some programs don't achieve results. Disappointed researchers find their manuscripts rejected in favor of those with more significance, and clinicians find little attention paid to failed programs. At the end of a lot of hard work, the problem persists.


It's easier to get positive findings published, but it's just as important to publish what did not work. A publication is not an end point; it is a contribution to a scholarly conversation about a topic within a community of researchers and clinicians interested in solving a problem. Where positive findings move knowledge forward and serve as a jumping-off point for the next work, so do negative findings guide future work. What a waste of time and resources to have researchers repeating mistakes because negative findings were not disseminated. Negative findings from a well-constructed study and findings from an ill-conceived or poorly designed study are not the same thing. Negative findings from a well-constructed study may suggest that a more nuanced understanding of the problem is required, a more refined research method is necessary, subpopulation variances should be considered, or a myriad of other possibilities are resulting in unanticipated findings.


Peer review is the primary mechanism used to judge the quality of a manuscript reporting on findings of a research or program initiative. Reviewers depend on the information in the manuscript and will often raise questions regarding information perceived to be missing, unclear, or inaccurate. Reviewers are topic experts who volunteer their time and talent to keep a scholarly conversation moving forward. Authors revise and resubmit in an effort to contribute a best effort to the collective body of work. In a scholarly conversation, an individual influences and interprets the collective, and the collective interprets and influences the individual. Readers are encouraged to join a conversation through letters to the editor. Moving science forward is a very human endeavor, and readers must consider themselves as part of the dialogue. Letters are particularly important when readers find articles to have, in their perception, missing, unclear, or inaccurate information. It serves no purpose to question or criticize in private what should be discussed in the context of a scholarly conversation. Letters to the editor are forwarded to authors, and the letter and response, if the author chooses to respond, are both published. Authoring a publication is only 1 way to engage in scholarly conversation. Readers are asked to volunteer as manuscript reviewers and to share feedback through letters. Together, we are a scholarly conversation.