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Int J Nurs Stud. 2006 Jul;43(5):637-51. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Challenges and strategies in developing nursing research capacity: a review of the literature.

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School of Health Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK.



This paper reports the findings of a critical overview of the development of nursing research capacity in academic departments. It examines the major barriers to developing research capacity, the capacity building strategies adopted (or proposed) within the literature, and considers the wider context within which such endeavours take place.


The literature review forms part of a longitudinal project utilising case study methodology. A key word search was used to locate relevant journal articles for the period 1999-2004, derived from the project's research question and an earlier literature review. A number of manual 'shelf searches' were conducted.


Bibliographic data were retrieved from The Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health literature, The Social Science Citation Index, and Medline.


Approximately 150 articles were retrieved, of which 47 were included in the study. Given the paucity of work in this area papers were not excluded on the grounds of methodological weakness. Major themes were identified in each paper and an analytical framework was developed.


Two main challenges affecting research capacity development were identified-material constraints and organisational contexts, and the changing roles and expectations of nurse educators. The importance of developing an overall strategic approach, clearly communicated, and accompanied by effective leadership was a point of common agreement. Debate existed on how research support should be managed, particularly the merits of inclusivity and the reconcilement of individual and organisational needs. Specific capacity strategies identified in the literature were the creation of infrastructures, the fostering of research cultures and environments, and the facilitation of training and collaboration.


The literature offers many examples of capacity building strategies. However, more empirical studies are needed to understand the situated process of implementing and evaluating capacity building in individual academic departments, and how this process differs between geographical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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