The Vital Role of Editorial Leadership

Today the “Scholarly Kitchen” posted again a blog written in 2014 that spelled out the vital importance of editorial leadership. In my view, this post is especially important in relation to our “Nursing Editors History Project.”  Leslie and I established the project because of our conviction that nursing journal editors provide essential and influential roles in shaping not only their own journal, but in turn the emergence of the nursing discipline. And we realized that the people who fulfill this role are all too often lost to history. Each editor’s particular vision, convictions and perspectives exert a particular influence on the journal while they hold the position, and when the person in the position changes, something significant happens in the journal.

I urge our visitors to take a few moments to read the Scholarly Kitchen post, and return to share your comments as well!

Revisiting: The Editor — A Vital Role We Barely Talk About Anymore

– Peggy Chinn (co-founder with Leslie Nicoll of NEHP)

Slow and Steady…

It’s been just over a month since Peggy and I introduced the Nursing Editors History Project. We have not been flooded with entries, which is a good thing, because we are discovering there can be quite a bit of work associated with documenting the information for each journal. Some of the challenges that we have discovered are establishing the dates of tenure for the editor(s) of a journal, as well as determining if some older editors are still alive and happily retired or if they have passed on. If you are reviewing a journal entry and see information that needs correction, please let us know! We want this database to be as accurate as possible.

We are including the first editorial for a journal, whenever possible. Personally, I find reading these old editorials to be fascinating, as the editor often shares his/her vision for why the journal was founded and struggles that needed to be overcome to get to the point of a first issue. Looking at these editorials from the perspective of 20, 30, or 40 years later, it is interesting to see how the journal has stayed true to its original mission. Were the editors clairvoyant in identifying a niche and then creating the perfect journal to meet that need? With our very limited database, right now that seems to be the case. It will be interesting to see if this trend holds true as more editors and journals are added to the list.

Perhaps the journals that did not meet a need correctly–or met a need that subsequently disappeared–are those that are not longer published. We want to include journals that have ceased publication although we have not received any entries for these so far. If know of a “retired” journal that you can share information about, please let us know!

I had a very sad experience last month when my good friend and colleague, Margaret Freda, died on April 27th. Margaret had been Editor of MCN: The American Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing for 17 years and if my memory serves me correctly, she was only the second editor after it was founded. I had asked her for some information for this project but she told me she her vision was too blurry and she wasn’t able to help. That’s the moment that I knew she was not doing well. I was also very disappointed that she was not able to view the site and see what we hope to accomplish, because I know Margaret would’ve had great enthusiasm about this project.

When editors, like Margaret, die, their knowledge of journal history goes with them, which is a further impetus for the importance of the NEHP. Marilyn Oermann and I were working on the history of Nurse Educator and struggling to document its early years. We both knew that Suzanne Smith had been the editor from very early on, but was she the founder? (The answer is no.) Imagine my surprise when I found an article written by Suzanne from 1997 that documented her history with Nurse Educator and JONA–what a find! It was almost like she was standing right next to me and speaking to me! We have added this article to Suzanne’s listing on the departed editors page. I encourage everyone to take a minute and read it–she makes important points about editorial leadership and the role that editors play in “transforming their corner of the world.” I also need to add that it was something written by Margaret Freda that led me to this article, which I might never have found otherwise, since it was published and indexed under “Blancett,” Suzanne’s married name for a period of time. I always say, you have to pay attention to how the universe works!

Thanks to everyone for your support to date. If you are an editor, publisher, past editor, or someone else involved with a journal, please take a minute to complete the data form and submit, so we can add your information to the NEHP Database. Thanks in advance for your help!

Leslie H. Nicoll, on behalf of Peggy Chinn for the NEHP


Blancett, S.S. (1997). Nursing journalism leadership. Nursing Administration Quarterly22(1), 16-22.

We’re Learning as We Go!

Thank you to the editors who have provided early support to the NEHP by submitting data forms. We appreciate your support.

Peggy and I are trying to come up with a consistent format for the forms posted online. We have been adding a picture of the journal cover to the top right corner. If you can send a picture of cover when you submit your form, that would be most appreciated. We have modified the data form to allow you submit an extra file. Standard picture formats: jpg, png, or gif are best. If you don’t know how to save a picture or don’t have one, that’s fine. It is not essential for the project but we do think it adds a nice little touch to the form.

We have also been scouring the archives and coming up with inaugural editorials for journals, which we find very interesting and informative about a journal’s history, especially at the time of its founding. These editorials also provide the editor’s vision, in many cases. Since our purpose it to document who the editors have been for the journals that are listed, we believe these source documents are a rich source of data. When we have an editorial, or can access it, we are appending it to the data form. You can see examples for Nurse Educator and Nursing Inquiry.

If you have an editorial (or other documentation) that you can submit with your form, that would be very helpful and save us some work. But if not, no worries–we’ll do what we can to find the information.

Please let us know what you think about the NEHP! We are interested in your feedback and thoughts.

Leslie Nicoll, on behalf of Peggy Chinn and the NEHP

An exciting project!

Just when I think a project is finished, a new idea pops into my head! That is where the Nursing Editors History Project came from.

Peggy Chinn and I have been working on a new book that will be published this summer by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins: Writing in the Digital Age. I have also been working with Margaret Comerford Freda to produce the second edition of The Editor’s Handbook, also published by LWW and also due to come out this summer. Between these two projects, I have been thinking a lot about nursing editors and what impact our role has on the dissemination of nursing knowledge.

I have also been combing through the archives of various journals, trying to glean bits and pieces of information. And it suddenly occurred to me, as I looked at yet another incomplete archive, that very few journals have past historical information about their editors. Given the work we do, it seems a little amazing to me (and dismaying) that the historical tenure of editors for our scholarly journals in nursing is not documented.

And then a light bulb went off!

I immediately wrote Peggy who didn’t even have to think for five seconds before agreeing to jump on bandwagon. “Let’s get going,” I said. “Register a website! Create a Trello board! Make a Wufoo form!” And with that, the Nursing Editors History Project was born.

Peggy mentioned that our dear friend Suzanne Smith, long-time editor of both Nurse Educator and JONA had commented to her that there was no central repository of information about journal editors. With Suzanne’s death in 2013, her knowledge of what she did in the early days of both those journals is gone. Maybe there is someone at LWW (her publisher) who remembers. But maybe not. That is what made us realize that this project is essential and important.

At the moment, this project consists of brainstorming between Peggy and me, plus this website–and our own knowledge of our journals and some knowledge about other journals, but that’s about it. We have some ideas of how this will grow and develop, but we also realize that it may evolve in ways we never anticipated, which is very exciting. Please take some time to peruse the website and think about how you can contribute to our database. To be successful, this must be a collaborative effort. We look forward to hearing from you!