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The Edinburgh University's Nursing Research Unit, under the direction of a nurse-researcher, was established in October 1971: the first unit of its kind in the United Kingdom. This paper describes its development, philosophy and future strategy. In the first instance attempts were made to identify nursing problems from which a common core of problems was identified. This provided specific pointers for future research activity.

The unit offers research training facilities for trained nurses and research appreciation courses have also been provided for nursing students and their teachers. A major bonus to the unit has been the opportunity and facilities for interdisciplinary and collaborative research. The unit's future activities include plans to develop new statistical, computer and data management techniques and information retrieval systems more appropriate to nursing research.