Information sources for developing the nursing literature.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Journals are an important method for disseminating research findings and other evidence for practice to nurses. Bibliometric analyses of nursing journals can reveal information about authorship, types of documents cited, and how information is communicated in nursing, among other characteristics.


The purposes of our study were to describe the types of documents used to develop the clinical and research literature in nursing, and extent of gray literature cited in those publications.


This was a descriptive study of 18,901 citations of articles in clinical specialty and research journals in nursing published between January 2004 and June 2005.


The research team reviewed each citation to assess if the cited document was a journal article, book chapter or book, or document falling into the category of gray literature. Frequency counts for each type of cited document were recorded.


Most of the citations were to journal articles (n=14,392, 76.1%) and among those, to articles in medical journals (n=7719, 40.8% of all the citations). This was true for the literature as a whole and for the clinical specialty and research literature separately. Although citations to medical journals were most common, in the clinical nursing literature there was a significantly higher proportion of citations to medical journal articles (n=6332, 44.5%) than in the nursing research literature (n=1387, 29.7%) (LR(X)(2)=326.7, p<0.0001). Nearly 10% of the citations were to gray literature. There was an increase in citations to websites (5.7%) compared to a study done only a few years earlier.


Our study documented that journal literature was the primary source of information for communication within nursing. This is consistent with other biomedical and hard sciences where the transfer, assimilation, and use of information occur mainly within the scientific community. With a reliance on journal articles for dissemination of research and evidence for clinical practice, improved methods will be needed for integrating this knowledge and presenting it in a usable form to clinicians. As journals proliferate, it will become increasingly difficult for clinicians to keep current with research findings to guide their practice. The development and testing of new methods for integrating and disseminating research evidence to busy clinicians will be increasingly important in nursing. Gray literature was nearly 10% of the citations. The study also revealed an increase in citations to websites, which is anticipated to continue in the future. Further study is needed on the indexing of gray literature relevant to research use and evidence-based practice in nursing and on how to make this literature easily available to clinicians.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Oermann, MH; Nordstrom, CK; Wilmes, NA; Denison, D; Webb, SA; Featherston, DE; Bednarz, H; Striz, P

Published Date

  • April 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 45 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 580 - 587

PubMed ID

  • 17145059

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-491X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0020-7489

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2006.10.005


  • eng