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The scientific knowledge on which nurses may base their clinical practice is often lacking Not withstanding this, scientific knowledge in isolation is sterile unless it is invoked to address nursing hypotheses This paper explores how such nursing questions can be both identified and answered within a scientific framework Using the example of infection control, the complexity of the problem is examined and the contribution that various research approaches, including in vitro investigations, can offer is evaluated Nursing practice research has a vital role to play in determining the effective prevention of nosocomial infection The necessity for a collaborative and flexible approach to such research and the value of multidisciplinary teams of nurses and other scientists is emphasized