Monday, 31 March 2014

Reporting instrument development and testing

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

David L Streiner
We commissioned two leading psychometricians, David L Streiner and Jan Kottner, to write a special paper for us; one that would be helpful to authors in submitting manuscripts to JAN on instrument development and testing. I am pleased to present their superb paper: 'Recommendations for reporting the results of studies of instrument and scale development and testing'.

Jan Kottner
The paper is a readable, authoritative and contemporary 'take' on the subject. The sources cited are the key ones and the ideas expressed should resonate beyond the pages of JAN.

Old notions of reliability and validity are challenged and, of supreme importance, the need to develop a new scale where an suitable alternative exists, is challenged. The recommendations cover every aspect of an instrument development paper - as currently required by JAN - from the title to the conclusions.

In particular, authors should be cautious in the claims they make about their instruments: no longer should we refer to an instrument as being 'reliable'; instead we should refer to the ways reliability was tested. Similarly, we should no longer refer to instruments as being valid or that some particular aspect of validity has been established; rather, we should realise that all tests of validity are providing insight into the construct validity which is, in fact, unobtainable. We can only claim any level of validity for an instrument for the samples or populations with which it has been tested and  only then if we have really been able to establish that the instrument really does measure what is was designed to measure.

I urge all authors to read these recommendation, especially if you intend to submit a manuscript on instrument development.


Streiner DL, Kottner J (2014) Recommendations for reporting the results of studies of instrument and scale development and testing Journal of Advanced Nursing

Monday, 24 March 2014

Trial by Author

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Periodically, authors scrutinise what is published in journals and then publish it. I welcome this and, with respect to h-indices (Thompson & Watson 2010), open access (Watson et al. 2012), peer review (Watson 2012), authorship (Hayter et al. 2013) and citations (Hunt et al. 2013, Watson et al. 2013) I have done some of this myself. Publishing about publishing is increasingly common and, while some may see this as futile self-absorption, it is important in exposing and improving standards.

A recent JAN paper by Chiavetta et al. (2014) considers whether there is a difference in methodological quality between positive and negative published clinical trials. They conclude that there is and that negative trials tend to do better when scored using the Jadad scale which looks at randomisation, blinding and how all patients are accounted for. The years studied were 2010-2012 and, since the journals they analysed include JAN, my attention was drawn to this paper by our Managing Editor.

Ideally, there should be no difference in the methodological quality of positive or negative clinical trials and none of us - without appropriate qualification or description (e.g. pragmatic, single-blind, quasi-experimental) - should be publishing items labelled clinical trials that are not described fully. For the details of the disparate points between trials I urge you to read the paper; of more interest to me as Editor-in-Chief of JAN is ‘why?’. Why was there a difference and, of course, what can we do about it?

The authors speculate that it is still hard to publish the results of negative clinical trials; this should not be true but it may be. At JAN we do not have a policy of not publishing negative trials and I hope we convey that message. Nevertheless, as I travel the world and give writing workshops I am frequently asked about our policies on negative trials. Clearly, people do find it hard to publish these and whatever efforts we are making to dispel this, we are not making them strongly enough.

The argument by the authors, therefore, runs as follows: it is harder to publish negative trials and they come under greater scrutiny than positive trials; thus the standard of their publication is driven up. However, editors and reviewers like positive trials and they receive less scrutiny and ‘slip the net’ of the reviewing and editing process. If this is true then we need to work harder to obviate this as it is surely a contributory factor to publication bias and this is bad because poor positive results are published and exaggerated. This leads to misuse of resources and could even endanger patients.

The solution proposed by Chiavetta et al. (2104) includes the use of the CONSORT guidelines which we do recommend in JAN there may be a case for emphasising this in our guidelines and strengthening its implementation by authors, reviewers and editors.


Chiavetta N, Martins ARS, Henriques ICR, Frengi F (2014) Differences in methodological quality between positive and negative published clinical trials Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12380

Hayter M, Noyes J, Perry L, Pickler R, Roe B, Watson R (2013) Who writes, whose rights, and who’s right? Journal of Advanced Nursing 62, 2599-2601

Hunt GE, Jackson D, Watson R, Cleary M (2013) A citation analysis of nurse education using various bibliometric indicators Journal of Advanced Nursing 62, 1411-1445

Thompson DR, Watson R (2010) h-indices andthe performance of nursing professors in the UK Journal of Clinical Nursing 19, 2975-2958

Watson R (2012) Peer review under the spotlight in the UK Journal of Advanced Nursing 68, 718-720

Watson R Cleary M, Jackson D, Hunt GE (2012) Open access and online publishing: a new frontier in nursing? Journal of Advanced Nursing 68, 1905-1908

Watson R, Cleary M, Hunt GE (2013) What gets highly cited in JAN? Can editors pick articles which will contribute to a journal’simpact factor? Journal of Advanced Nursing doi:10.1111/jan.12261

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Promotoras? No, I had not heard of them either. While I often learn something new about something old when I edit papers for JAN, I rarely lean something completely new. Not having heard of ‘promotoras’ before, I paid particular attention to this manuscript.
A promotora

Promotoras are non-professional community healthcare workers who mainly work alongside the Latino community – hence the word promotora – and in a study by Albarran et al. (2014) entitled: Promotoras as facilitators of change: Latinas' perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program, the promotoras work with immigrant Latinas; women of Hispanic origin living in the USA.

Albarran et al. report on an intervention primarily aimed at reducing obesity and the risks associated with it. Hispanic immigrants in the USA are at high risk for obesity with Mexican immigrants in the USA being twice as likely to be obese as their counterparts in Mexico. The reasons for this are multifactorial: income, environment and safety, and the intervention was aimed at improving diet and increasing exercise. The interventions are known to be effective and Albarran et al.’s paper was concerned with how Latinas responded to the Promotoras.

The study was qualitative using grounded theory methodology. The women – who were obese – in the study described how they gained new knowledge (e.g. understanding of the link between diet, health and exercise), self-management tools (e.g. pedometers to measure their walking distance) and support emotional support and motivation) from the promotoras. The women explained how the promotoras fostered a sense of comp├únerismo (companionship).

Promotoras in action
Albarran et al. identify only two other similar studies on promotoras, so I was very pleased to see this study in JAN. Clearly, there is an element in the use of promotoras of having people who understand a culture, and who are recognised as understanding that culture, deliver health promotion. The use of such non-professionals raises many questions such as what training they receive and how are they accountable for their work? Is also raises the question: could it work elsewhere?


Albarran CR, Heilemann MV, Koniak-Griffin D (2014) Latinas' perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12383