1. Chinn, Peggy L. RN, PhD, FAAN

Article Content


Several years ago, challenged as usual by students pressing me to explain my ideas more fully, I developed a brief outline that defined good scholarship. I had titled the document "Scholarship: the Paradoxes of the 13 Cs" (later revised to 14 Cs). This document somehow found its way to a far-away country; a recent e-mail message asking for permission to quote from it prompted me to try to find it again. It is now two computers later, and alas, it was gone from my electronic system, but I resurrected it from a paper file (what an irony, just as we are moving Advances in Nursing Science into the electronic age!). Nevertheless, here are the paradoxes; I hope they stimulate discussion and reflection, just as I know the articles in this issue are bound to do!


Peggy L. Chinn, RN, PhD, FAAN




Scholarship: The Paradoxes of the 14 Cs


Present a complete diversity of points of view on your topic, summarizing the major perspectives you have found and explaining in your own words how each point of view is plausible. Keep coming back to the question: so what?" in order to lead the reader through the maze of differences of opinion.



Summarize in your own words the common elements in the existing literature. Highlight what is important about the commonalities for your work. Show the reader any traceable influence from one author to another. Integrate your own ideas as you develop the common "picture."



Substantive content is fundamental. Focus on a main message and show how it is important to the discipline. Open and close with a clear statement of your message, and make sure that everything in between builds toward that message.



Scholarly ideas do not occur in a vacuum. Provide a sense of the context in which your ideas have emerged. If you are taking issue with the ideas of others, explain the context in which the others' ideas emerged, showing respect for the importance of diversity in the development of the discipline.



Use the literature in your area to show influences on your own ideas. Give credit to the works that you are drawing on as predecessors to yours. Always use primary sources unless your purpose is to show the influence of one author on another. Show the reader how your perspective differs from what precedes you.



Your voice must be present. Focus on how your voice differs from other authors in the field. Begin by having a clear, single statement of your own main message, and keep coming back to that idea as you build your text. Make sure the reader gets the point you are making.



Factual and interpretive content must be accurate, plausible, and well founded. Have informed reviewers check your work for accuracy of facts, distortions of original meanings or inadvertent misrepresentations of other authors' works, especially if your content is largely interpretive.



Scholarly writing takes nothing as given, not even the author's own ideas. Maintain an open, searching posture, seeking new possibilities and understandings. If you think that your idea is "better" than the ideas of other scholars, state your perspective along with an explicit or implied invitation to the reader for ongoing critical dialogue.



Always include the most current sources that address the topic in your field. If you have looked for current literature and are absolutely sure that none exists, include text that assesses the "state of the art" in your field, and explain why you are taking up this topic in the absence of any current interest in it.



Classic sources are those that have been around for a while, and that continue to be consistently cited in your field. Find classic literature by noticing that it is frequently cited in the current literature, and by noticing that the more experienced scholars in your discipline know and talk about a particular source or author.



Take every step possible to cover the breadth of ideas related to the topic you are developing. Ask colleagues who know the field to critique your early drafts to help you identify any oversights you have made in terms of major ideas, or important literature that needs to be acknowledged.



Keep re-writing your drafts to make sure you are getting to the point, and that you eliminate repetitive ideas and phrases. Beware of entire sections that wander away from the main purpose of your paper. Maintain a focus on your main idea as you weave subtopics, background and context together. Keep asking yourself: "Is this necessary to include?"



As you near a final draft, be sure you have used the simplest words possible to convey your meaning. If you must retain (keep) a technical or professional word, make sure this word is essential to convey your meaning. Edit for long sentences that obscure your flow of thought, or that confuse your meaning. Have reviewers point out any passages where your meaning is not clear.



Use transitions to weave a tapestry of many meanings together to form a whole. As you rewrite, trace the flow of ideas to make sure that you have covered all the essential material needed to address your topic to its fullest, and that you have not robbed your presentation of the richness it requires. Lead the reader from one point to another with explanatory passages and bridges that keep focusing on, and building, your main point.