Research Report Critique: Nursing and Midwifery Grants

Citation of the article

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Gledhill, S., Mannix, J., MacDonald, R., & Poulton, G. (2010). Nursing and midwifery research grants: profiling the outcomes. Australian Journal Of Advanced Nursing,28(3), 14-21.


This paper was aimed at outlining the contributions that were made in the field of health care particularly to professions of nursing, and midwifery by researchers who were granted financial support in their by The Queensland Nursing Council (QNC) Australia. This research paper is based on the findings obtained from a survey and focused on research grants awarded in the the time frame between1996 and 2010.

1. Substantive and Theoretical Dimensions

relevance of research problem and significance

The research problem that has been identified in this research paper is very crucial to the professions of nursing and midwifery. This research report exposes the problem of closing down of this grant program with effect from July 2010 due to the shifting of territory and state midwifery and nursing regulations into a regulatory scheme under the authority of national health profession. Moreover the author also points out at the problems lying around underfunding of the nursing research. The problems stated are thus of vital importance which the author has supported with the studies of other authors and have highlighted the need and importance of nursing funds in encouraging and stabilizing the nursing and midwifery profession in different ways such as leadership support that a successful research development provides and making significant contributions to advance the health care system.

congruence between research question and methods used

Given the authors’ emphasis on the outcomes of Nursing and midwifery research grants, this research is primarily survey-based and takes in responses of different nurses and midwives who have conducted or still conducting researches under such grants. Their fields of study have been taken in account and the relation of these studies to the profession of nursing, midwifery and health care.

literature review

Gledhill, Mannix, MacDonald and Poulton cite several previous studies as part of their literature review. The literature review that has been incorporated in the research report covers all the dimensions that the author aims to explore, starting from the barriers and obstacles in the nursing research, problems relating to the underfunding, proposed frameworks to make these systems better, sources of the funding to the benefits of nursing grants to the system of health care.

2. Methodological Dimensions

research design

A cross sectional electronic survey consisting of 21 items was conducted relating to the research grant outcomes. 71 former and current research funds receiver from across Australia participated in the survey. Respondents were required to evaluate the effect and advantage of the research grant on nursing and midwifery and the role they play in enhancing knowledge, education, practice, and how this funding support the professional their project. I think that the cross-sectional survey can result in responses that a high ratio of personal bias on the issue. 71 was very low response rate and I think the electronic form of the survey was one reason that limited the participants in this study. I think that another research design should also have been used for example content analysis of the research articles and publications that have been published as a result of the researches conducted with the help of such grants.

population and sample

Methodologically, I have concerns regarding sampling of this research report. (91.4%)of the respondents were female, while the males only comprised of 8.6% of respondents. There were Ninety three per cent (93 %) nurses in the respondents and only 7% of the midwives. There were approximately nine times as many females than males, 91.4% versus 8.6%. Coincidentally, most of the respondents were also nurses. I would have favored if the survey had engage a comparatively more equivalent number of participants on the basis of sex and the fields of profession i.e. nurses and midwives. Age groups were classified as: 20-29 years, 30-39 years, 40-49 years, 50-59 years and 60 years and older. 38% of respondents were among the 40-49 year age group followed by 29.6% from the 50-59 year age group, 19.7% were 30-39 years of age group and 12.7% of respondents were from the age group greater than 60 years. Response rate from the age group of 20-29 year was nil. This did not extend the prospects of this study towards young nurses and midwives or enrolled students or fresh graduates in the nursing, midwifery and health care degrees.

collection of data

Collection of data was well carried put considering the survey method that was used. Frequencies were calculated by means of the data analysis function of survey tool. Frequencies presented an actual count as well as the calculation of the percentage of participants individually, choosing each response category for a particular item of questionnaire. Qualitative data was examined by means of thematic analysis. Every response was independently coded, while identifying the subthemes and the clustering them into major themes. Data was collected in four spheres: demographic data, research focus and award category, impact of research grants and qualitative findings.


The results were quite consistent with the already done research around this topic. The result obtained from the survey showed that majority of respondents centered their research on midwifery and nursing staff. These results are in line with the literature reporting and support the ideas that most nursing research focuses on profession ‘endogenous’, rather than on patient ‘exogenous’ (Trayner et al 2001). The results also show consistency with an international comparative analysis carried out by Polit and Beck (2009). Taken from eight English journals, this analysis examined the 1,072 nursing research studies and their characteristics 2005 and 2006. The researchers used the scales consisting of a variety of settings. This could result bad for the internal validity as the participants might not have focused on completing the scale, rather they tried on completingpaperwork etc.

3. Ethical Dimensions

confidentiality or anonymity

The authors mentioned percentages of the respondents who have obtained different research grants, however, they did not mention that their names were known or not. Moreover, the authors have also not given any confirmation regarding disclosing the forms that they filled or keeping them confidential.

informed consent

The authors engaged the participants in an electronic survey which was suppose to be filled and answered by them directly. Therefore, I don’t think there is a chance of any negligence regarding the consent of the respondents. The participants engaged in the survey with their own choice knowing what it was aimed for.

vulnerability of study subjects/participants

We do not know that respondents were kept anonymous or not, therefore it is not certain to say that their vulnerability was compromised or not.

research ethics board approval

Ethical approval was obtained from the Queensland Nursing Council before conducting the research because the research was based on research grant programs administered by Queensland Nursing Council.

4. Interpretive Dimensions

discussion section

The researchers incorporated an extensive discussion section. It is a well structured section explaining the survey outcomes in terms of sampling and their link with the results, informing of the new techniques being used and new dimensions being explored, the limitations in the researches and the recommendations for providing more research grants in the nursing and midwifery field. The authors highlighted several explanations for their findings.

The authors clarified the shortcomings that I pointed out earlier (population and sample) in their sampling in the beginning of the discussion section. They make it clear that demographics of respondents represented present demographics among the midwifery and nursing professions. The nursing profession in Australia consists of 90.4% females of which 33.0% are above 50 years of age. Most respondents were working as nurse academics or nurses than midwives and the average age was 43.5. Respondents over the age group of sixty corresponded really well, signifying that old age group researchers make valuable contributions in the knowledge body related to nursing and midwifery. The authors had also taken note of the lack of response amongst the young burses and midwives and suggest that this indicate the need of balancing a career along with personal commitments. The significance of consolidating a clinical career in young and fresh graduates was also highlighted.

The frequency of randomized controlled trials technique and pre-test/post-test method carried out by respondents in this survey indicates the increasing trend towards a practice based on evidence in nursing and midwifery. This was unknown prior to this survey so it was a stepping stone in signifying the importance of increased research practices. The authors also pointed out the desire that nursing and midwifery reflect to understand experiences of patients and the health care.

The authors proved the validity of the results in the discussion section explained earlier in (Validity). The discussion also point out the shortcomings that exist in the nursing and midwife research i.e. the focus on endogenous aspects such as examining what it is that midwives and nurses are doing, and how they deliver care, which should arguably be focusing on patients. They also pointed out that researched merely focused on main national health concerns which include asthma, cancer control, arthritis/musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, injury prevention, diabetes, obesity and mental health.

The authors identified several benefits from funding led research including enhancing the body of knowledge, workplace efficiencies due to healthier workforce such as cost savings and better decision making attributed to up to date information.

conclusion section

The conclusion was well built. It adequately highlighted the aim of the research paper i.e. outlining the contributions that were made in the field of health care particularly to professions of nursing, and midwifery by researchers who were granted financial support in their by The Queensland Nursing Council (QNC) Australia.

Respondents were capable of revealing the benefits of their research projects in the course of clinical practice changes, policy changes and the development of professional networks that adds significantly to the mass of research based knowledge in nursing and midwifery. Moreover, most participants were also able to publish their research findings and knowledge in various national and international journals.

While highlighting the contributions of the nurse and midwifery led research, the conclusion also proposes a positive future of health care nationally and internationally through continued support for researches in nursing and midwifery to maintain the existing capacity of researchers in Australian nursing and midwifery as well as internationally.

implication section

I felt that recommendation section was a little vague. The recommendations presented were very general and were not explained specifically. In fact, there were a few implications that were outlined in discussion section were more elaborated such as advising to consider a close link between national health priorities and nursing and midwifery research projects to efficiently utilize the available funding and advising professional organizations of nursing and midwifery consider the overall benefits of the research grants to the health care consumers and profession.

5. Presentation and Stylistic Dimensions

any missing information

The survey did not include information about the effects that these nursing and midwifery had on the career of these researchers. Was it able to boost their career and gave them improved opportunities to work in better positions in health care? I think the survey also missed out on questions relating to the duration of the grants and their research. Information regarding confidentiality, anonymity and vulnerability is also missing. The percentages for response rate for any quantitative item have not been given.


clear, grammatically correct writing

The writing is clear and easy to understand. The authors’ tone adds continuity in the article. The writing is somewhat grammatically correct and use simple words.

well organized

The research report is well structured. The information is presented in order. Research focusing questions and major themes for quantitative and qualitative data collection has been presented in tables that made the structure of the questionnaire/form easy to understand.

enough detail, no jargon

Jargons and technical terms have been explained for example the terms such as RCT, endogenous and exogenous were explained for the reader to understand.


The response rate was very low, of only 33%. Due to this low response rate, generalizing the results to nursing and midwifery research was a little difficult and thus a lot of support from existing literature was taken to do so.


The research report is well structured and well organized. However, the research questions are not stated in a question form and neither any hypothesis has been proposed as such. However, the research problem has been identified effectively and has been supported with the results obtained from a survey. The results along with literature reporting were sufficient enough to fulfill the purpose of the study. However, a mixed method approach could still have been used such content analysis for a more detailed information on the subject.