In this paper I will examine the concept of researcher intervention in nursing research. In will suggest that the concept is essentially problematic for both positivist and qualitative researchers, which may have some bearing upon its relative neglect as an area for discussion.
I will examine the redundancy of the more popular moral frameworks in dealing with the problems raised by intervention and suggest that nursing research, being ‘messy’, requires the articulation of a more reflexive and contextual approach. This applies both to moral justification and to more pragmatic methodological issues. In the paper I suggest that humanistic action research, informed by recent feminist thinking, has potential to produce a more creative and clinically relevant future for nursing research than is currently so.