Clark and Thompson's (2013) editorial forces us to consider the certainty that management science repays a certain degree of study in terms of being successful in competitive research grant bids and high-impact publications (Drucker 1967). While reference to Drucker's book on management and game theory may be useful in terms of prolonging its shelf life, it is otherwise unhelpful, as few amongst us would sit on our hands when it comes to preparing and experiencing the frisson of successful grant applications and writing for publication. We would happily wear out the day in that way if it were not for several obstacles: first, there is the fact that academics – a species who are increasingly rationed – are held captive ‘waist deep’ in paper towers relating to teaching and most especially to administration. Clark and Thompson seem to overlook the reality that teaching and assessing form a considerable portion of nursing and midwifery school strategies and, in turn, are the most pressing priorities, particularly where straitened times have thrown schools into nerve-shredding chaos in terms of securing and maintaining undergraduate, postregistration and postgraduate revenue streams, which represent the backbone and are essential to survival and retention of institutional reputations.

Certainly, success in grant and publication submissions would be self-affirming for the profession, facilitate the prospect of improved patient and family care in clinical practice and political expediency in the academy. The reality is, however, that currently most schools of nursing and midwifery are maintained in a state of dishevelled elegance and even moderate elements within these walls would submit to the view that research outputs and successful grant bids have not increased significantly as nursing has become established in the academy. Instead, in more recent times, successful submissions and commissions have arguably atrophied and where they occur, they are more a product of artistic accident. Consequently, nursing and midwifery power remains dormant in both practice and in the university. This is arguably not a bad thing as nursing has always been far more interested in talent when it comes to making contributions to healthcare practice and research than the power it can acquire in health care.

Since the 1960s, there has been a tremendous sense of academic readiness in the nursing and midwifery professions and subsequent decades have seen a great deal of talented nurse and midwife researchers snorting the runway in the virgin territory of academic nursing and midwifery publications. Many nurses and midwives have seen the salvation of the profession in academic vaccination. Nurses and midwives have soaked up academic life and eagerly spent long periods in libraries, read voraciously and many spent personal finances on textbooks. This was evident not only in faculty members but also in pre-and postregistration students. Unfortunately, the same thirst, quest and personal investment are not forthcoming. Not wanting to sound like ‘the dog ate my homework’, but a very plausible cause for this lack of productivity, not passion, is the fact that the most essential ingredient for writing well and getting published is, as Clark and Thompson point out in their editorial, reading a lot. However, this is sadly prohibited and not enhanced by the constant bombardment of modern day electronic distractions such as social media, email and texting which, Clark and Thompson contend, leads to success in grant applications and publications.

Important also is the fact that controversy still rumbles on and the storm clouds continue to gather over the place of nursing in the academy. Public commentators and even fellow academics from other disciplines persist in their assertions that nursing and midwifery professions do not belong in the academy (Fealy & McNamara 2007). Instead, vocational professionals such as nursing and midwifery ought to concentrate exclusively on practical elements of health care and the moral fortitude of the students under their charge. The effect of this is that it has the potential to impose a sense of temporariness about nursing's place in the academy and guilt on those wishing to pursue research projects or publications in nursing or midwifery. Instead, academics feel that their time should be more usefully and conscionably occupied with devising endless schemes of work for the clinical skill laboratories and testing with paranoia the moral capacity of intending nurses and midwives. To free nurse and midwife researchers to pursue research grants and publications, we first need to correct these public and media misperceptions, which hem academics in, especially the misperception that a university-based education in nursing and midwifery will strip students of moral restraint instead of equipping them with it.

A final potential barrier in the promotion of grant applications and writing for publication is that, in recent decades, a smaller cadre of nursing academics have been successful in major research grant applications and high-impact and interdisciplinary publications. However, the problem we have in this regard is not related to management and priority setting deficits or failure to recognize the value of mentors, but rather alongside economic challenges, competing against technologies and public misperceptions is that successful grant applicants have tended to ‘pull up the ladder behind them’. There is greater need for sharing of the knowledge and information acquired, which leads to success in these areas with others rather than just instilling the belief in individuals that setting priorities is the panacea and, instead, mentors need to make themselves available generously and in an organized manner.


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