Six Degrees of Nursing Science: Message From the President Cindy L. Munro

Correspondence to: Cindy L. Munro E-mail: [email protected]

Research in Nursing & Health, 2015, 38, 180–182 Accepted 12 March 2015 DOI: 10.1002/nur.21656

Cindy L. Munro President, SNRS University of South Florida Tampa, FL

Published online 28 April 2015 in Wiley Online Library (

The community of nurse researchers is highly interconnected. At scientific meetings such as the recent Southern Nursing Research Society (SNRS) annual conference, I enjoy playing a nursing science variation of Six Degrees. Based on the 1990 play and 1993 movie, “Six Degrees of Separation,” the goal of the Six Degrees game is to link the actor Kevin Bacon to another celebrity through shared film credits with no more than five other actors. In my version, I attempt to identify the scientific relationships that link me to nurse researchers I meet. In addition to looking for the most parsimonious solution (the fewest intermediaries between myself and the other researcher), I also count the number of connections I have to that researcher. Kleinfeld (2002) likened the theory of six degrees of separation to an urban myth, but it is widely circulated in popular culture, and human interconnectedness has been the focus of serious scientific inquiry. In this sociological research, scientists aim to answer the “small world” problem: “If two persons are selected at random from a population, what are the chances that they would know each other, and, more generally, how long a chain of acquaintanceship would be required to link them?” (Borgatti, Mehra, Brass, & Labianca, 2009, p.892). Kochen and Pool used mathematical models to examine the small world problem in the 1950s, positing that at least 50% of pairs could be linked by chains with no more than two intermediaries, equivalent to three degrees of separation (Borgatti et al., 2009). In the 1960s, Milgram reported that 30% of subjects were able to deliver a document to an individual they did not personally know through five intermediaries (Kleinfeld, 2002). Since that time, social networking scientists have developed methods to examine quantitative and qualitative aspects of connections. In recent studies of online connectedness, individuals could be linked through five or fewer online intermediaries (Davidson, 2014).


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Nurse scientists share many experiences, which strengthen our ability to discover connections to each other. Scientific lineages, research interests, and organizational memberships are three fruitful starting points for the Six Degrees of Nursing Science game. Scientific lineages are networks composed of a mentor, his or her academic mentees, and the mentees' own mentees or scientific progeny. These networks create strong links among nurse scientists. Who were your pre- and postdoctoral mentors? In which institution did you receive your research training, and who was on the faculty there? Who were your classmates? Who are your trainees, and where have they worked? Who have your mentees mentored? Individuals with shared research interests constitute another network that may provide opportunities to establish linkages between individuals. Who are your research collaborators? With whom have your coauthors published? Who has served with you on review panels or task forces? Professional organizations provide robust networks that can link individuals together, particularly those who are active participants. SNRS has more than 1200 members, and more than half of the members attended this year's annual conference. The scientific sessions and networking events provided excellent opportunities to uncover shared associations between members and to establish direct relationships. What Research Interest Group do you belong to? What committees do you serve on, and who are the past members of those committees? Who presented in the same sessions with your associates? Which poster presenters did you speak with, and who were their coauthors? Can you establish any shared links with the exhibitors? Mr. Bacon leveraged his central role in the Six Degrees game to found, a charitable organization that raises funds for good causes by



connecting potential donors with celebrities. We, too, must leverage our connections for the greater good. Playing the Six Degrees of Nursing Science game is fun, but discovering our connections to other nurse scientists to further our common goal of improving human health is important. Connections within the nursing science community are critical to each individual's success, and to the advancement of nursing science. Establishing and building one's scientific reputation depends upon extending our scientific social network. Together, we can improve the quality of our research ideas, enhance our methodological expertise, and expand the dissemination of the knowledge

we create. Collectively, we can move nursing science forward.

References Borgatti, S. P., Mehra, A., Brass, D. J., & Labianca, G. (2009). Network analysis in the social sciences. Science, 323, 892–895. doi: 10.1126/science.1165821 Davidson, J. (2014, January–February). Six-ish degrees of separation. Psychology Today, 47(1), 12. Kleinfeld, J. (2002, March–April). Six degrees of separation: Urban myth? Psychology Today, 35(2), 74.


Reasons to Belong to Professional Nursing Research Organizations Patricia R. Messmer

Correspondence to: Patricia R. Messmer E-mail: [email protected] Patricia R. Messmer SNRS Director of Membership (through February 2015) Miami Dade College Miami, FL,

SNRS will mark its 30th anniversary next year, in February 2016. This year of celebration is an opportunity for SNRS members to reflect on what SNRS has done for them and, more importantly, what the future can hold, as SNRS strives to grow in membership. Nursing colleagues who were behind the development of the professional organizations laid the groundwork for nursing research today. In the early 1950s, the American Nurses' Association (ANA) placed a high priority on the promotion of nursing research. The ANA created committees, councils, foundations, and guidelines to enhance research by and for nurses, forming a legacy of support for nurse researchers across the United States. In 1955, the American Nurses Foundation was established by the ANA to give financial support for research projects and disseminate research findings (Messmer, Zalon, & Phillips, 2014). The foundation also led its own program of research in nursing and provided consultation to nursing students, research facilities, and others engaged in nursing research. In the 1960s, the ANA Committee on Research and Studies was formed to plan, promote, and guide research

Research in Nursing & Health

related to the function of the Association. The committee published the ANA (1962) Blueprint for Research in Nursing and The Nurse in Research: ANA Guidelines in Ethical Values (1968). The ANA Council of Nurse Researchers, established in 1971 by the ANA Commission of Nurse Researchers, advanced research activities nationally, provided for the exchange of ideas, and recognized excellence in research (Flanagan, 1976). In 1973, the American Academy of Nurses (AAN) was launched with 36 charter members (http://www.aannet. org/about). Its goals were to advance new concepts in nursing and health care; identify and explore issues in health, in the profession, and in society as they affect and are affected by nurses and nursing; and examine the dynamics within nursing and identify and propose resolutions to issues and problems confronting nursing and health, including alternative plans for implementation (Abdellah & Levine, 1986). Its members serve on expert panels that convene regularly to promote research and policy to improve health. While national support for nursing research remains essential, as nurse researchers became more numerous,



they joined with colleagues to form communities at a regional level. In 1975, the Midwestern Nursing Research Society was created by 15 midwestern states as a network of discovery that advanced science, transformed practice and enhanced careers. Ten years later, the Western Nursing Research Society (WIN) was established. SNRS was formed in 1986, and the Eastern Nursing Research Society in 1988. Within the regional research societies, nurses who aligned themselves with special interest groups not only acquired firsthand knowledge about current research topics but established relationships with experts in these areas. In 2000, to replace the Council of Nurse Researchers, AAN Board members created the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science (CANS) to “foster better health through nursing science” (http://www. The goals of the Council were to be a strong voice for nursing science at national and international levels by developing, conducting, and utilizing nursing science; disseminate research findings across individuals and groups in scientific and lay communities; and facilitate life-long learning opportunities for nurse scientists. The founding steering committee included representation from the four regional nursing research societies and other groups. Our nurse colleagues in earlier decades knew that their participation in professional nursing organizations was essential, both for their personal advancement and to ensure the lasting legacy of nursing research and nursing science. SNRS is calling on nurses to join and take up their cause. Membership in SNRS benefits us as individuals

Research in Nursing & Health

and as a profession. Membership benefits us personally because it provides financial, informational, and social support for the research that is a requirement for tenure in most universities and for American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition of hospitals. SNRS research abstracts are reviewed by specialty organizations to select their national convention and congress presenters. As a profession, nursing is accountable to society to create and use a scientific basis for nursing practice. Nurses must ask questions, develop projects, and participate in the scholarly and systematic demonstration of nursing practice through research (Mateo & Kirchhoff, 1991). SNRS membership enables each nurse in the southern region to carry on the strong American tradition of advocating and promoting the best in nursing research.

References Abdellah, F. G., & Levine, E. (1986). Better patient care through nursing research (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan. Flanagan, L. (1976). One strong voice: The story of the American Nurses’ Association. Kansas City, MO: American Nurses’ Association. Mateo, M. A., & Kirchhoff, K. T. (1991). Conducting and using nursing research in the clinical setting. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins. Messmer, P. R., Zalon, M. L., & Phillips, C. (2014). ANF Scholars (1955-2012): Stepping stones to a nursing research career. Applied Nursing Research, 27, 2–24. doi: 10.1016/j. apnr.2013.10.009

Six degrees of nursing science: message from the president.

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