• James P. Smith OBE, BSc(Soc), MSc, DER, SRN, RNT, BTA Certificate, FRCN, FRSH, Founding editor of the Journal of Advanced Nursing


It was about this time in 1975 that, after 2 years of planning, I was drafting my first editorial for the launch of the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 1976.

This editorial is the last one I’ll write for the journal. I retire from my present role as editor-in-chief on 31 December 1999.

As I reflect on the events of the past quarter of a century from my new home in Scotland, a most beautiful and civilized country, I have to admit to a great feeling of happiness and pride.

The journal has become such a prestigious and international scholarly publication. It is heartening to know that it is now read world wide in over 70 countries.

It has been a unique experience and a rare privilege for me to have been so closely associated with the production of the first 30 volumes of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Sense of vocation

I started to train as a nurse on 1 April 1952 at the Hertford County Hospital Nurse Training School, Hertford, England.

At the time I believed I was following a sense of vocation for nursing. That belief has remained with me ever since, unashamedly. Though I confess that, from time to time, some cynical people have expressed amazement that I could still hold such a view.

To support the validity of my sense of vocation I can only cite the qualitative indicators of my life-long social conscience, constant advocacy of the marginalized, personal contentment, total job satisfaction in everything I have done and professional achievements accomplished without a burdensome work ethic.

After qualifying as a nurse in 1955, I had a variety of experiences in nursing practice in the north and south of England and later became a teacher of nursing.

From 1970 to 1974, I was head of the Hammersmith Hospital School of Nursing, London, England, before moving to Brent in north-west London.

In Brent, I became head of the hospital and community nursing, midwifery and health visiting services for Brent’s 250 000 multi-ethnic population. I spent the years 1974–85 in Brent. It was one of the most fascinating, fruitful and personally satisfying periods of my life.

During the years 1985–87, I co-ordinated a team of workers involved in long-term and community care projects at the King’s Fund Centre, London. After that, I became involved in consultancy work.

It must be quite clear therefore that my professional experiences as a nurse had a very firm basis in reality. My professional life has been totally immersed in the real world of health care. I have never claimed to be an academic.

Scholarship, I believe, can, and should, help to make a significant and positive contribution to the improvement of the quality of life and the maintenance of high standards of professional practice in the delivery of health care services, illness prevention and health promotion.

That is why I have often reminded our readers — and conference participants — of the dangers of scholarship and scholarly activities becoming ends in themselves.

Emergence of the journal

Like many other important historical innovations, the idea of the Journal of Advanced Nursing emerged almost by chance.

Early in 1974, I met one of the publishers from Blackwell Science (Robert Lomax) to discuss a chapter I was writing for a new textbook. He asked me if I had identified any ‘gaps in the literature’.

I shared with him a ‘dream’ about an international scholarly journal that would publish scientific, philosophical and theoretical information of relevance to nursing and midwifery practice, education and management.

Things happened quickly after that meeting. Robert Lomax took me to discuss my idea with the then managing director at Blackwell Science (Per Saugman). He was very receptive and encouraged me to discuss the proposed journal with other professional colleagues to determine their reactions (which, I am glad to say, were very positive). I was also asked to identify potential members of an Editorial Board and Panel of Overseas Advisers.

The first Editorial Board met in 1974 and formally ‘elected’ me (unopposed) as editor and endorsed my proposals and objectives for the journal. The rest, as they say, is history.

Planning for the first issue of the journal took place throughout 1974 and 1975. The Journal of Advanced Nursing was finally launched on 18 February 1976 in the Cowdray Hall at the Royal College of Nursing headquarters in London. It was a splendid and memorable celebration.

The original plan was to publish six refereed papers six times a year. But, quite soon after the launch, it became clear that there would be a constant flow of publishable papers from around the world. So, over the years, the number of papers published in each issue of the journal has increased.

The expansion of the journal’s contents became so great that it was decided that the journal should become a monthly publication from 1989: initially containing 10 papers each month. But, in recent years, each monthly issue has consisted of over 25 papers, making the journal probably one of the largest scholarly publications in the world.

Clearly the journal has contributed greatly to a knowledge explosion and scholarly revolution for nursing and midwifery and it is now extensively cited in other publications and in papers read at conferences.

I have always had a happy and close working relationship with the publishers since those first discussions in 1974. And I shall be eternally grateful to all the able and eminent people who have served as members of the Editorial Board and Panel of Overseas Advisers, especially the pioneer members.

Commercial and professional success

By 1978, the journal had proven to be an unprecedented commercial success for the publishers.

On 8 November 1978, I was created a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom in recognition of ‘an exceptional contribution to the advancement of the science and art of nursing’ by virtue of my creation and editorship of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Her Majesty the Queen honoured me by creating me an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1989.

In 1991, the title of visiting professor was conferred on me by Bournemouth University.


Internationalism in nursing and midwifery has been fostered continuously in the Journal of Advanced Nursing by its rich mix of scholarly papers by authors from many countries and read by so many people throughout the world.

It is noteworthy that authors from a variety of other professions and academic disciplines have also been keen to have their papers published in the journal. Clearly the journal is an outstanding international and professional success.

I have been fortunate in being able to make a personal contribution to the promotion of internationalism and have managed to make professional visits, often to participate in seminars and conferences, not only in the four countries of the United Kingdom, but also world wide throughout my career.

Countries I have visited include: Australia, Belgium, Brunei Darussalem, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the USA and the former USSR.

In preparation for my retirement, the publishers have appointed four enthusiastic, able editors to continue the work of the journal. And an office for the Americas has been established in the USA. Perhaps other regional offices will follow.

I have every confidence that the four recently appointed editors, in whose care I leave the Journal of Advanced Nursing, will take the journal to even greater success in the forthcoming years of the new millennium.

I have been delighted to accept an invitation from the publishers to be designated Founding Editor from the year 2000.

Grateful thanks

Many thanks to all nurses, midwives and health visitors who have been associated with the journal in any way: as advisers, referees, book reviewers, authors, subcribers or readers.

Very warm thanks to the publishers for their faith in me and their support over the years.

Special thanks also to all Blackwell Science staff in the Edinburgh, London and Oxford offices. They have been a constant source of help and encouragement to me — as colleagues and friends.

Finally, thanks also to my many professional and personal friends in the United Kingdom and throughout the world. I have always been delighted to have their considerable encouragement. They have been the kindest of critics. I have always considered their friendship a special bonus which (together with their prayers) I have particularly appreciated in recent years.

Good luck to you all and every good wish for the future. Farewell!