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In 1976 100 nurses, mainly from the National Health Service, attended a study day organized by the Nursing Research Advisory Group for Scotland. The object was to create interest in published nursing research reports so as to generate critical thinking followed by activity on return to work. The theme for the day was ‘Justification and use of research in nursing’. It was postulated that research can be justified on the grounds of originality leading to a substantial addition to the nursing profession's body of knowledge and also on the grounds of replication which can provide credence to generalization from the original study. The subjects—prevention of pressure sores and nosocomial infection among others–were used to illustrate a possible financial justification. Each year several British health authorities are sued by patients who have developed a pressure sore in hospital. Should such a case be tried in open court it is highly debatable if a particular nurse's ignorance of well-known research work would be defensible in court.

Other justifications were thought to be economy of effort for nurses as well as patients, economy of material resources, research-based nursing practice, improvement in the nursing curriculum and in manpower planning. The objective of all nursing research is directly or indirectly to improve the quality of nursing–but how is this measured?