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Authors

  1. Section Editor(s): Fulton, Janet S. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Article Content

Here it is again, this is the issue with the abstracts of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist Conference. I've written several editorials bragging on the wonderful work of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) exemplified in the abstracts. I've complemented the authors on their creativity and innovation, pointed out the depth and breadth of CNS practice, commented on the many specialty areas of practice, and highlighted the many contributions CNSs make to improving to quality and safety. I'm not going to do that again, except I just did.

 

The journal publishes the conference abstracts for the purpose of making CNS work visible. Once published, the abstract titles are listed in the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health. In addition, the abstracts are archived at the Virginia Henderson Library at Sigma Theta Tau, nursing's international honor society. Although getting the abstracts into databases is good, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to again encourage the authors to turn the abstract into a manuscript for publication. I'm your editor, it's my job.

 

The peer-review process for selecting abstracts is different from the peer-review process used for manuscripts. Manuscript reviewers have an opportunity to evaluate the title using criteria such accuracy, conciseness, completeness, and so forth. Authors can be offered an opportunity to revise the title. The revise and resubmit option is not in place for the abstracts, yet it is equally important that published abstracts have accurate, concise, and complete titles. Here are some tips for improving abstract titles, which will facilitate finding it in a searchable database.

 

The title should be clear. The objective is to have the intended audience find the work. To that end, always spell out clinical nurse specialist in the title so as to not be confused with central nervous system, also CNS!

 

Select scholarly titles and don't include cute words or phrases. Here's an example: "So That's What We Do! A Tool for Measuring What CNSs Do in an Oncology Outpatient Setting." The phrase "So That's What We Do!" is unnecessary. Other CNSs may understand the expression to reflect a common shared frustration over lack of instruments for measuring practice outcomes, but that frustration doesn't need to be in the title. Furthermore, think of what it says to the non-CNS. Does the title suggest CNSs in oncology have limited understanding of their practice? Edit the title to read: "A Tool for Measuring Clinical Nurse Specialist Outcomes in an Oncology Outpatient Unit."

 

Don't confuse the meanings of role and practice. Role denotes a set of functions with associated unique competencies needed to perform the functions. Role competencies are learned through a formal education program that prepares individuals to function in a role. It is correct to say: "the acute care CNS role is found in hospitals." Practice is the enactment of the unique role competencies in the delivery of services within the scope of the role. It is correct to say: acute care CNS practice includes managing quality indicators. Here's an example of how to improve a title: "Clinical Nurse Specialist Role Empowering Staff to Improve Outcomes Through Journal Club" could be edited to read "Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice Improves Outcomes by Empowering Staff Through Journal Club."

 

Practice is what a CNS does, and outcomes are the achievement of practice. With increasing emphasis on the need to demonstrate outcomes of CNS practice, it is especially helpful if the word outcomes appears in the title. Here's an example: "Journey to Improve Assessment of Swallowing in Stroke Patients" could be edited to read "Outcomes of a Clinical Nurse Specialist Program to Improve Assessment of Swallowing After Stroke." The revised title includes the key subject words and would appear in a search by anyone looking for literature on CNS outcomes in addition to those interested in care of stroke patients. The word journey in the original title is vague; it might mean process, but journey would likely not be a key word included in a search about CNS practice or outcomes.

 

Avoid using the phrase "impact of the clinical nurse specialist role on[horizontal ellipsis]." If impact is being used to denote outcomes, say outcome. Where the outcome results from actions of a CNS, use the phrase outcome of practice. In most situations, it will work to substitute the phrase practice outcomes for role impact.

 

Avoid a 2-part title separated by a colon. Two part titles tend to be lengthy, and the subject is obscured. Here's an example: "Clinical Nurse Specialist Innovation and Collaboration: Helping Staff Nurses Use Evidence to Change Practice in the Face of New Research" could be edited to read "Outcomes of a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Staff Nurse Collaboration to Improve Preoperative Patient Education." The first title has too many unnecessary words, and the subject, preoperative education, is missing. Often a shorter title can be more descriptive.

 

Practice, practice, practice! Writing is a skill, everyone gets better with practice. The clinical practice world depends heavily on checklists, flowcharts, and brief comments to document patient conditions and care provided. The scholarly world is open-ended and relies on writing skills. When asking colleagues for feedback about an abstract draft, be sure to ask for comments about the title. Do not be deterred, practice!

 

A big thank you to everyone who submitted an abstract, encouraged a colleague or student to submit, or served as an informal or formal peer reviewer. The abstracts showcase the wonderful work of CNSs. Let's make sure it's labeled so it can be found by the intended audience. Plan now to submit an abstract to the 2013 conference.