Since Boyer's scholarship model first captured the discipline's imagination as a conceptual structure to broaden knowledge drivers beyond discovery science (Boyer 1990), nurses have embraced the idea of scholarship associated with teaching, practice application and integration. Various authors have proposed additional dimensions to the original rubric, including the scholarship of service as an underpinning of a professional practice discipline (Riley et al. 2002 and the scholarship of community engagement as tribute to the social mandate that is a hallmark of the discipline's ethos (Burrage, Shattell, and Habermann 2005). Each reflects a distinct aspiration for nursing's agency. However, to capture the kind of the intellectual community a discipline such as nursing has the potential to represent, further extensions may be worthy of consideration.

In an early Nursing Inquiry paper, Emden (1996) argued that journal manuscript reviewing was itself a form of service scholarship. As journal manuscript reviewing tends to be peripheral to any nurse's direct career development requirements, that form of service reflects a particular form of generosity. The idea of the virtue of generosity is attracting attention in nursing ethics circles (Arber and Gallagher 2009) as well as in considerations of the inherent dialectic of caring relationships within health care (Frank 2004). Although we often give a nod to mentorship as an attribute supporting the development of our junior scholars, we typically think of this as an explicit relational covenant between individual professionals rather than as a distinct way of being within the world of disciplinary scholarship.

From the perspective of the editor's chair for a nursing journal, one gains a certain lens on how different scholars do (or do not) enact what might be called a scholarship of intellectual generosity. Modern tracking systems allow those of us who devote time to asking (begging, wheedling) colleagues to participate in the review process to see distinctive response patterns. The typical invisibility of this aspect of the process was brought to mind recently when I received a ‘decline to review’ response accompanied by an email tagline citing Martin Luther King Junior's famous exhortation: ‘Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness…. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ It struck me that we so easily express such sentiments as core values of our profession, but may not always consider the larger implications of that value for taking and making time for reviewing, guiding students, encouraging colleagues and sharing our wisdom to develop the broader scholarship base for the discipline.

We all have to make choices about how to prioritize time, and journal editors invariably notice across their reviewer pool a wide range in manifestations of intellectual generosity. Some scholars routinely decline requests to review; some accept an assignment but perform a cursory dismissal with little substance guide a struggling author. A more nefarious breed of reviewer interprets the request as an opportunity to promote citations of his or her own published work. In contrast, the kind of reviewer in which all editors delight is the one in whom the pure teacher shines through. This reviewer bends over backward to fit in a review request, struggles to work out the author's motivation and aims for constructive mentorship in crafting a critical reflection. It is this particular relationship to the reviewing process that exemplifies very best of what I think of as the scholarship of intellectual generosity. May we find ways to bring that form of scholarship out of the shadows and truly celebrate it!


  1. Top of page
  2. References