Virtual Nursing Theory Week 2021: Presenting and Publishing
During the week of March 17-24, 2021, with the global COVID-19 pandemic expected to be winding down but not over, the Virtual Nursing Theory Week kept the idea of an annual nursing theory conference alive and well! (see https://nursingtheoryconference.com/). The conference featured 3 keynote sessions, 76 “breakout” presentations based on submitted abstracts, and “daily discussion” sessions during which all who registered were able to log in to a Zoom meeting for networking and discussion.
The value of presenting at any conference is significant, but the now-annual nursing theory conference is particularly important as the international “hub” around which future nursing knowledge development evolves. Unlike published works, the audience sees and experiences the presenter as a real-life person. This person-to-person experience (even in a virtual context) gives members of a group an appreciation for the person who has created the ideas and crafted them into a communicable form, as well as an opportunity to ask questions and share comments.
Presentations are essential to the development of ideas, but presentations tend to lack the level of “esteem” granted published works. There are several factors that contribute to this value system—one is the wider “reach” of published works to audiences who are not present for in-person presentations. Another is the formal environment around scholarly publishing that serves the purpose of ensuring the credibility and scholarly merit of the work. Conference organizers conduct some degree of review and vetting of the content planned for the conference, but there remains the expectation that presentations may not be fully developed. Conference planners often welcome “thought pieces” and controversial ideas that will stimulate discussion among conference attendees. Journal publishers and editors, on the other hand, expect that any work submitted for publication has been developed beyond the stages of early speculation. When a work is published in a credible journal—one that maintains high standards of ethics in all aspects of publication, the reader/consumer is assured that the work is original (not previously published in any form), that it was contributed by a qualified author or authors, that there are no conflicts of interest, sources of funding are declared, and that peer review has confirmed that the work is sufficiently developed and the findings and conclusions are sound.
We fully expect many of the presentations at the 2021 Virtual Nursing Theory Week to evolve into publications in credible journals. But the significance of this conference and the conference presentations cannot be overstated! This event marks the evolution of our discipline and provides a springboard for our future development. May the conference thrive far into the future!
—Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN