The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. It’s a great time to be a nurse practitioner, and in recognition of this auspicious year, each monthly editorial during the year will include a highlight of an occurrence during that month in nursing history.
We'll start off with something that is especially meaningful to readers of this journal. In January 1985, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners was founded by a small group of visionary leaders who met under an apple tree in Pennsylvania. According to AANP records, the first president of the Academy was Carole Kerwin-Kain, followed by a long line of other distinguished colleagues. In 2013, the American Academy of NPs merged with the American College of NPs, forming the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) as we know it today. We have come a long way in 34 years. Some highlights can be found on our association web site at https://www.aanp.org/about/about-the-american-association-of-nurse-practitioners-aanp/historical-timeline.
Following are some important updates that will occur during 2020 for authors and readers of JAANP.
Use of the APA manual seventh edition
You are probably aware that the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was issued last fall (APA, 2020). It has been 10 years since the sixth edition was issued, so this update has been anticipated. Important changes in the seventh edition include:
- New sample papers are provided for authors to reference.
- The singular “they” is used to be more inclusive.
- There are updated guidelines on bias-free language.
- The use of a single space at the end of a sentence is endorsed.
- Over 40 new examples of tables and figures to improve ease of formatting.
- Simplification of in-text citations.
- A change in the number of authors to include in a reference.
There are many more changes and updates in the new manual. Authors should expect the seventh edition standards to apply within the next 6 months. At the present time, authors may elect to use either the sixth or the seventh edition guidelines for APA style.
Changes in reporting statistics
In the past few years, there have been a growing number of articles on the perils and pitfalls of overreliance on p values when reporting results of research studies. Statisticians have expressed concerns that decisions, sometimes expensive ones, are being made based on a single number. A p value is a number that, when taken alone, can be very misleading.
In 2016, the American Statistical Association (ASA) released a statement with six principles intended to downplay the use of p values in reporting (Wasserstein & Lazar, 2016). An especially important guideline to keep in mind is the following: Scientific conclusions and business or policy decisions should not be based only on whether a p-value passes a specific threshold. Although this general rule for critically appraising reported statistics is far from new, it is often forgotten. In fact, discussion of the ASA guidelines has centered on overreliance, or complete reliance, on p-values in lieu of all other evidence.
Guidance for reporting statistical results is available to researchers and authors. In March 2019, a special issue of The American Statistician was devoted to the p-value problem. Information can also be found in the APA manual in the “Mechanics of Style” chapter, in which authors are reminded to include enough information for readers to understand how the data were analyzed. This includes a clear description of the sample, the context of the study, and the underlying hypothesis.
All of this requires more work on the part of both writers and readers. Authors must take care to provide adequate details so the data may be interpreted. Readers must read critically to ensure that any inferences drawn are based on the context of the study and an understanding of the procedures used. Taken together, this will go a long way toward ensuring that the decisions we make are in the best interest of our patients, students, and colleagues.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (7th ed.). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10/137/0000165-000
Wasserstein R. L., Lazar N. A. (2016). The ASA statement on p-values: Context, process, and purpose. The American Statistician, 70, 129–133.