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Keywords:

  • health service research;
  • leadership;
  • research capacity

Aim  To describe how momentum towards building research capacity has developed through aligning research activity with executive responsibility via strategic planning processes that direct operational structures and processes for research activity.

Background  Reflecting on the development of research capacity over many years at complex tertiary referral hospitals reveals that building nursing knowledge is too important to be left to chance or whim but needs a strategic focus, appropriate resourcing and long-term sustainability through infrastructure.

Key issues  A number of key approaches we uncovered as successful include: (i) articulation of questions consistent with the strategic direction of the health context that can be addressed through research evidence; (ii) engagement and dissemination through making research meaningful; and (iii) feedback that informs the executive about the contribution of research activity to guide policy and practice decisions.

Conclusions  Leadership teams need to ensure that the development of research knowledge is a strategic priority. The focus also needs to be more broadly on creating research capacity than focussing on small operational issues.

Implications for nursing management  Research capacity is developed when it is initiated, supported and monitored by leadership.