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Tops in nursing research

Academic Analytics has ranked MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing first for scholarly productivity among all public schools in the Association of American Universities. The ranking shows that nursing faculty researchers are among the best in their fields, says Vicki Conn, MS ’81, MA ’83, PhD ’87, director of research. The success stems in part from their work solving costly problems that affect millions of people. And their approaches are novel — preventing falls among elderly people by using motion sensors, and helping low-income pregnant women quit smoking by making sure their basic needs are met.

Conn says the third-party endorsement is gratifying because Academic Analytics is a privately owned company that collects its own data to measure productivity, rather than relying on information supplied by universities. The company measures per capita scholarly productivity based on faculty members’ federally funded research grants, awards, book and journal publications, and the number of times other scholars cite their work.

Building the research program requires hiring the right people, Conn says. “You need a critical mass of researchers working in the same area. For example, we have a lot of synergy here with faculty members in nursing and across campus working in geriatrics. We also have people studying health behavior change. Similar topics often have similar methodological issues, and we have the expertise to help each other.”

Helping and accepting help is another key to success. For instance, the school hires national and international leaders who critique grant proposals to give them the best chance of being funded. “And our faculty is very cooperative and collegial,” Conn says. “We are willing to read each other’s grant proposals and solve problems. Our culture is that it’s good to get help. There are no queens here."