Although in recent years there has been increasing pressure on nurses to become more research minded, available evidence still suggests that there is a significant shortfall in published nursing research To date, it has not been clear whether this lack of output is a function of nurses' failure either to conduct research in the first place or to get it published It is self-evident that if patient care is to be enhanced through research, then the reasons for the low output must be investigated systematically in order to understand the precise nature of the problem Therefore, a national survey of 230 nurses was undertaken in order to ascertain the reasons underpinning the low publication rate A questionnaire, comprising sections on biographical information, research activities and attitudes to research was distributed to a random sample of nurses and the results were analysed using techniques of descriptive and inferential statistics The results suggest that the observed shortfall in published research is not a product of nurses' failure to conduct research projects but rather of their reluctance to submit their findings for publication This reluctance seemed for the majority of respondents to be the result of a pronounced lack of confidence The findings from this survey are discussed with reference to future professional development programmes