Caveats from the great exercise

January 3, 1997

THE NEGATIVE comments on nursing research in your editorial undermine the real progress that is being made in this area from a historically low base.

Comparing the 1992 and 1996 assessments, the subject-weighted average increased by 0.4 (from 2.25 to 2.65) which is the national average subject increase, while the number of staff submitted nearly doubled (from 203 to 396).

This period has seen both the integration of mainstream nursing and midwifery education into the universities and a clear research and development policy in the NHS to increase the volume of quality research in nursing and the professions allied to medicine. Given the timescales, it would be surprising if the effects of these changes were apparent in research output in time for this assessment exercise. It is thus a significant achievement that some universities such as Liverpool John Moores, Sheffield and Hertfordshire have been able to score 2s or 3s in a first submission in this subject area.

The development of nursing education and research involving substantial cultural changes for staff and the discipline will show clearly in any future RAE.

PAUL TURNER Dean, faculty of health and human sciences University of Hertfordshire

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