Background: Journal publication is the traditional means of disseminating research. Few top-ranked general medical and health services and policy research journals publish qualitative research.
Objectives: This study examined qualitative research publication rates in top-ranked nursing journals with varying characteristics (general vs. specialty focus, number of issues per year) and compared publication rates with those previously reported for journals in related fields.
Methods: A bibliometric approach was used to identify and quantify qualitative articles published in 10 top-ranked nursing journals from 2002 to 2011.
Results: The percentage of qualitative empirical studies varied within and across nursing journals with no apparent association with journal characteristics. Although variable, qualitative research appears more common in high-ranking nursing journals than in general medical and health services and policy research journals.
Discussion: Examining factors that contribute to inconsistent rates may identify strategies to optimize qualitative research reporting and publication.