Journals serve as a form of communication among educators in the field, practicing professionals and sometimes the common person. They are needed as a form of information sharing. Nursing journals generally target a specific group of professionals in nursing. The Author's Guide to Journals in Nursing and Related Fields, explains that "[n]ursing has become more specialized" which "has resulted in the need for information sharing on many levels"(1). The book shares that this "need for information" is not just for nurses but also, "consumers, among specialty groups, and with professionals in other disciplines"(1). The number of people that write for journals, the number of journals and periodicals are continuing to grow. There are two major genres of nursing journals, academic and non-academic journals. Although journals have different audiences and genres of writing, the writing fulfills similar characteristics of writing in nursing. The articles written for journals follow the specific journal guidelines. Regardless of author or reader the articles in nursing are to the point, clear, concise and pertinent.
Academic journals in nursing include articles that share research findings, literature reviews and theories in nursing. Reviews of new books, publications on research and theories as well as letters to the editor commenting on these new publications may be included in the academic journal. Academic journals are written for a MSN or Ph.D. in nursing or professionals in other disciplines. The Ph.D., and sometimes the MSN, write for the academic journal in nursing. One academic journal that I reviewed was Image Journals of Nursing Scholarship. This journal contained a guest editorial discussing some programs and paradigms, or the specific ideas and theories behind the programs. The journal also included letters to the editor, a dialogue section, an article section and nurses notes. The dialogue section included written responses to previously published articles. The nurse's notes included a page case study written by an MSN. The other articles were written by Ph.D.'s including research results and literature reviews. The journal would be hard for the common person to read due to vocabulary used.
The articles and even the dialogue responses included a list of references to their writing. Each of the articles had a short abstract paragraph and key words. Some of the research reports included a background in their research, the methods used in the research or methodology, results and a discussion section on their results. The articles reflected good writing through flow, correct grammar, and clarity. They also demonstrated characteristics of good writing in nursing as being to the point, clear and concise. Being to the point, by clearly stating ideas can be demonstrated in the article "Dimensions of a Nurse Caring." The article states, "[t]he purpose of our study was…" and "[n]ursing caring was defined as…"(107). These examples exemplify writing in nursing as being to the point, not wordy. The article was clear and shared the information in the research that was relevant to the article. The method of this research included sharing information about the sample, instrument and procedures. Four reference tables displaying results were included in the publication. The results summed up what they found in the study. The discussion included information about factors involved in the research, limitations of the study and concluding ideas.
Non-academic journals in nursing are written for a practicing nurse. Articles in this type of journal may include clinical topics through a specific case, a quiz on types of drugs, and articles about a specific topic. Information about therapies, drugs, legal issues and patient issues may also be included in the non-academic journal. I reviewed the journal RN or Registered Nurse Magazine. Features of this magazine include an editor's memo, responses to previously published articles in a section, and the RN news watch. Also included was the "nursing lite" which is a funny story about something that happened at work. A clinical highlight and articles about a certain topic were in the journal. The majority of the entries were one to two pages. The main articles were the longest section of the journal. These articles were offered as a way to earn continuing education credits. RN offered an opportunity to earn continuing education credits by reading the articles, taking a quiz about the articles and signing up for the Home Study Program through the magazine.
Although the non-academic journal presents practicing nursing information the characteristics of the articles involved being to the point, concise and clear. This can be demonstrated through the article, "Treating TB Today." The article presents two sentences about the article then the article has an introduction followed by different sections labeled by headings. A chart presenting commonly used TB drugs with side effects and nursing considerations is included with the article as well as a box regarding a specific aspect, "Controlling TB in the workplace." The article contains pertinent information such as, understanding who is at risk and how TB screening leads to a diagnosis. The article is clear and presents information that is to the point, as seen in the first sentence of the article:
In 1940, 60% of people living in developed countries were infected with tuberculosis (TB).
Key concepts are also highlighted to effectively communicate with the audience of this article. The non-academic nursing journal may be easier for the common person to read than an academic journal. The non-academic journal is primarily for the practicing nurse as drug topics or certain issues may be confusing to a common reader. I also reviewed an article from the journal Nursing. The article, "A shampoo for Tom" is a particular case of the nurse. The paragraphs in this article are short, containing only one to three sentences. The sentences were to the point, as suggested by the following sentence, "Tom, 43, needed a shampoo." This article contained an abstract and four different sections even though it was only two pages. Some journal articles are written anonymously for privacy of the family depending on the individual situation.
To write for a journal one must pick the specific journal, in order to follow those journals guidelines. Some journals such as RN, will not accept articles that are simultaneously submitted to other journals. The journal will provide guidelines as far as content, reference, citations, style and format. The journal will probably require a query letter for the author to inquire if the editor is interested in receiving your proposed manuscript. Included in a query letter are the proposed title, thesis or main idea, estimated length and format. Publications may include illustrations, tables, charts or graphs. To write an article the author should begin with a writing process. Describing, narrating, explaining, reporting, developing, taking a stand or offering an opinion are some ways to write for a journal, depending on the article and journal.
The Author's Guide to Journals in Nursing and Related Fields suggests, "future of professional development depends upon the publication of ideas, research findings, critiques, activities, discoveries, philosophies, and analyses of all these writings" (3). Writing for a journal can be a rewarding aspect of nursing, as far as sharing a specific case or research. Academic and non-academic journals may publish a variety of genres in nursing related to the theme of the issue. Publishing is a growing necessity in nursing, as Ph.D.'s must publish in academic journals. The genre for writing in journals is vast removed from practicing nurses charting but it follows the standard characteristics of writing in the field. The writing is good when it is to the point, clear and concise.