Research planning An important part of the preresearch planning is negotiating authorship on any subsequent manuscripts. The IRB may state that the principal investigator (PI) must have a PhD or MD degree; therefore, many nurses are not qualified to serve as the PI. However, this does not necessarily mean the nurse cannot serve as the first author of any presentations and manuscripts.

Research project preparation can be similar to establishing a business plan; roles and ownership must be articulated to ensure reasonable expectations. Documentation of the discussion after establishing the research plan is very important; draw up contracts or write follow-up e-mails detailing the roles, expectations, and authorship agreement for the research team. Preresearch planning should also include talking to facility leadership and clinicians whose patients are intended to be participants so everyone is aware of the project. In addition, ensure that the research is feasible and possible to conduct, as reflected in the research proposal.

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Narrowing the scope Other important components of a successful project are the scope and the complexity of the study. Narrow the scope and reduce the complexity of the research. Attaining the number of subjects as represented in a power analysis may be impossible; however, the project does not need to be abandoned. A small sample size would certainly be a limitation, but the data could offer insight toward the development of larger projects. Many studies are underpowered and require further investigation but are still published or presented. For example, a project with a reasonable participant accrual and realistic design can be completed within 1 to 2 years. A complicated project with many data collection points, however, has a reasonable probability of never being completed. Also, consider using measurement tools with less complicated scoring procedures. Many instruments can be scored with online calculators, which increase accuracy. The less complicated the study, the better probability of completion.

Dedication to completion Nurses have many obligations and research-related tasks can be difficult. Time away from routine activities for research tasks is a principle barrier to the success of a research project.15 Research activities are often performed on personal time. Negotiate with your nurse manager or administrators to make research tasks part your daily role at least during data collection.16 Nurses cannot simultaneously collect data while performing their usual role. If possible, assign a person (a student) to handle recruitment and data collection. Data are best when a person is dedicated specifically to data collection.


Hospital-based research councils help promote nursing research in that nurses working in facilities with nursing research councils perceive fewer organizational barriers compared with nurses working in non-Magnet hospitals.17,18 Nursing research councils tend to discuss issues such as mentorship development, organizational support, and IRB compliance. As part of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet certification process, nursing research councils are often developed as a result of demonstrating nursing-shared governance. Nursing research councils can review research proposals prior to submission to an agency’s scientific review committee for clinical feasibility, assuring that the unit staff is aware of the nurse’s project and any additional responsibilities as a result of it. Nursing research councils should include faculty, if possible, and other mentors that can help guide the organization and details of an agency-wide nursing research plan.