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bibliometrics, nursing research, research utilization



  1. Estabrooks, Carole A.
  2. Winther, Connie
  3. Derksen, Linda


Background: Research utilization is the use of research to guide clinical practice. However, little is known about the characteristics of the research utilization literature in nursing, including the development and organization of this field of study. This article addresses the knowledge gap in this field of study by bibliometrically analyzing the research utilization literature in nursing.


Objective: To map research utilization as a field of study in nursing using bibliometric methods, and to identify the structure of this scientific community, including the current network of researchers.


Method: A search of electronic and hard copy databases resulted in bibliographic data for 630 articles on research utilization in nursing published between 1972 and 2001. Bibliometric techniques used included a statistical analysis of publication counts, co-word analysis, and co-citation analysis.


Results: The analyses showed a trend of increased productivity since the early 1990s. Most publications were authored by a single author, with no tendency toward increased collaboration over time. Most references cited in the articles were nursing references, indicating that there is very little flow into nursing from other fields. Only 4% of the references cited were actual research articles about research utilization, consistent with applied fields in which clinicians most commonly cite other clinicians. The 630 articles were published in a total of 194 different journals, with the Journal of Advanced Nursing identified as a key journal in the field.


Conclusions: According to the analysis, tremendous growth has occurred in the field of research utilization. However, the limited amount of collaborative research and the repeated citation of a few references indicate that the field is under-developed. The research utilization field would benefit from more substantive conceptual and empirical work, and more collaboration among emerging scholars.