Nursing research conventions: objectivity or obfuscation?


  • Sam Porter RGN DipN BSSc

    1. Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland
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This paper is a critique of naive realism, the philosophy which animates much nursing research, and which leads researchers to assume that the attainment of objective knowledge is possible The nature of naive realism, and its relationship to objectivity, is discussed Central to this outlook is the belief that the values and interests of the researcher can and should be divorced from the prosecution of research This is reflected in the literary convention of referring to the researcher in the third person Contrary to this position, I argue that the interpretations, values and interests of the researcher are central to the research process Moreover, nursing research may be affected by the interests of managers, educationalists, and those who wish to see nursing attain professional status Nursing researchers should accept that they are part of the social situations which they study They should therefore become reflexive in their outlook This entails recognizing and attempting to understand the effects of the researcher, rather than trying to eliminate or ignore them