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Legitimacy in legacy: a discussion paper of historical scholarship published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1976–2011

Authors


Correspondence to G. Fealy:

e-mail: gerard.fealy@ucd.ie

Abstract

Aims

This paper presents a discussion of historical scholarship published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Background

The Journal of Advanced Nursing provides a forum for disseminating high-quality research and scholarship. For over 35 years, scholars have used the Journal of Advanced Nursing to disseminate research into aspects of nursing, including nursing history.

Data sources

The data source was Wiley Online electronic database for the Journal of Advanced Nursing for the period 1976–December 2011.

Discussion

Relative to other academic concerns, nursing history represents a topic of limited concern to nursing scholars, as evidenced in published scholarship in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. The trends in historical scholarship in the journal have been on disciplinary development, the place and context of practice, and gendered relationships. While these are legitimate academic concerns, they suggest a lack of attention to clinical practice in historical research, that which confers social legitimacy on the discipline.

Implications for nursing

Nursing derives its social legitimacy, in part, through its history, including reliable accounts of the legacy of nursing work in the development of healthcare systems. Disciplinary development in nursing is advanced by giving greater prominence to nursing history in nursing scholarship, including the history of nursing practice

Conclusions

Relative to other academic concerns, nursing scholarship affords little prominence to the topic of nursing history and less still to the history of practice, as evidenced in the outputs of one of nursing's major organs of scholarship. Not to assign due importance to the history of nursing and its practice demonstrates nursing's lack of disciplinary maturity.

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