A Comparative Analysis of Master of Nursing Students' Scholarly Inquiry
Although graduates of master's of nursing programs are expected to demonstrate competence in systematic inquiry, few reports describe how students obtain this skill. We conducted a comparative analysis of 118 scholarly projects from 2004 to 2009 with an earlier sample of 112 projects from 1996 to 2003. We examined changes in the method of scholarly inquiry, population type examined, and outcomes or products of inquiry. Data from a scholarly inquiry evaluation checklist were transcribed and analyzed. Literature review continued to be the most frequent method of scholarly inquiry, with few group differences noted between the time periods. Evidence-based clinical or practice projects increased as an inquiry method, as did health care providers as the population type. Papers of publishable quality and educational materials increased as outcomes of scholarly inquiry. Although this analysis is limited by incomplete data and a need to clarify checklist categories, the increased number of clinical-based projects supports a shift to evidence-based practice outcomes. The expansion in the number of educational scholarly projects is attributed to increasing enrollment in the nurse educator option. With new Essentials of Master's Education in Nursing and the transition of specialty preparation to the doctoral level, revisiting scholarly outcomes for master's degree students is recommended.