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Historical Inquiry In Nursing And Midwifery: A Conversation Between Pamela Wood And Lynne Giddings   

Pamela J. Wood, RGON, PhD, Associate Professor Graduate School of Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria University of Wellington   

Lynne S. Giddings, RGON, RM, PhD, Associate Professor School of Nursing, Auckland University of Technology 

Wood, P. J., & Giddings, L. S., (2004). Historical inquiry in nursing and midwifery: A conversation between Pamela Wood and Lynne Giddings. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 20(2), 4-14.

Abstract   

An essential component in the development of any profession is knowing its own historical foundation. To achieve an understanding of this past, the profession needs careful research which will offer an interpretation of past events, practice and people. Historical methodology is therefore a valid and important approach available to researchers in nursing and midwifery. This is the twelfth article in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, designed to offer the beginning researcher a first-hand account of the experience of using particular methodologies. This article incorporates a conversation on historical methodology between Pamela Wood (RGON, PhD) and Lynne Giddings (RGON, RM, PhD) who have completed numerous studies in the history of nursing, midwifery and public health.  

Key Words: Methodologies, historical research, nursing history, midwifery history.

Introduction  

As an essential component of its development a profession needs to have knowledge of its past. Understanding the foundation strengthens its sense of identity and place in the world. The profession needs carefully researched interpretations of its history, rather than polemical or romanticised accounts of its past. Researchers must therefore use a rigorous methodology which follows the conventions of historical research. This article, the twelfth in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, offers the beginning researcher a brief introduction to this research approach (refer to Giddings & Wood (2000) for background information on the series). It follows a slightly different format from other articles in this series. Rather than relating an interview with another researcher, it records a conversation we ourselves had about historical methodology. We have used this methodology for numerous studies in the history of nursing, midwifery and public health. 

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