A critical appraisal of LevettJones, T., Lathlean, J., Higgins, I. and MCMillan, M. (2009) Staff Student Relationships and their Impact on Nursing Students Belongingness and Learning.

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Nursing is an evidence based profession and conducting research is vital as it gives up-to-date  information which is fundamental  for nursing (Polit and Beck, 2010), as research is crucial in supplying evidence on the strengths and limitations of clinical interventions. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008) state that as a professional practitioner you must deliver care based on the best available evidence. This enables the practice to be improved by research into various fields of nursing, which will guarantee that whatever duty is being embarked, it is in the best interests of the patient (Aveyard and Sharp, 2009).

This critical analysis has been influenced by work of Ryan et al (2007), which has facilitated a clear and structured understanding of the approach to critically appraising and evaluating the Levitt-Jones et al Journalistic article of 2009. The article is of particular relevance, as a student nurse the report title, Staff-student relationship and their impact on nursing students’ belongingness and learning is prevalent to the current professional position of the reader.

Qualitative research is essentially an assortment of various approaches that have commonalities (Parahoo, 2006).  Qualitative research is of particular interest within nursing care concepts as issues that are directly relevant cannot adequately be addressed by quantitative research methods; qualitative methods provide an in-depth understanding of peoples thinking and behaviour as opposed to statistical data (Shields and Twycross, 2003).


The background of the Author’s must be considered as this will assist in identifying the level of knowledge and qualifications in the study area and indicates the credibility of the authors and findings. (Ryan et al, 2007).   There was one primary author/researcher and three additional researchers. Three are educated to PhD level and the other MA level. The primary author has completed various research studies and had additional work published. However, it is significant to remember that a research study should be appraised on its own qualities and not be presumed to be valid and reliable purely based on the authors credentials (Ryan et al, 2007).

The article being evaluated was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.  It has an impact factor of 1.527 and an ISI Journal Citation Reports Ranking of 14/101. This increases the credibility of the research as published articles are ‘double blind’ peer reviewed to prevent bias while improving the standard of published material. (Royal College of Nursing 2013).  Furthermore, it should not be assumed that because a report is published in a credible journal it is reliable and valid (Ryan et al).  For example, Dr Wakefield published unreliable information about the correlation with autism and the MMR injection. Dr Wakefield’s report was published in a world leading medical journal called lancet, which as a high impact factor of 38.28.


The title of the article is of an appropriate length and is clear in its description. It should contain between 10-15 words and of which avoids loss of meaning (Polit and Beck, 2010). The title indicates that this is a qualitative paper although this is only mentioned within the introduction on the second page.  A title which presents as informative remains important when evaluating the quality of a piece of work, (Parahoo, 2006).


The abstract should give a brief summary of the study, highlighting the aim, background, methodology, findings and conclusions and should consist of between 100-200 words (Polit and Beck, 2010). The abstract outlines both the title and in addition the aim of the paper. The aim gives further insight as to the purpose of the study. The abstract further outlines the research issue/problem and how positive and negative experiences can impact as well as influence working practice, future choices and decisions.  It is at this point the reader will make an informed decision whether to continue reading the entire article based on the relevance of the article to them, (Parahoo, 2006).


In order to assist a review it is important that the researcher both outlines, then justifies the research design approach that they have chosen in order to provide a basis for overall sense and coherence as well as the way it corresponds with the research question. The methodology is clearly detailed within the abstract and the sample/population outlined as 18 final year nursing students both male and female across an age range of 20-47 years in 2006. It goes on to further indicate the sample has been taken from two Australian and one United Kingdom University. The data collection is also outlined as in-depth semi-structured interviews with data being analysed thematically.  


Findings are detailed within the abstract. These are a broad representation of findings which indicate a broad continuum of views and influences on students’ feelings and learning experiences. Similarities of these feelings and experiences were also noted regardless of geographical area and differing education systems. The abstract concludes with the notion that staff-student relationships are key to students feeling they belong and this is essential to an effective and positive clinical learning experience.

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Keywords used within the paper are also identified and this assists with the comprehension of the paper.


There are many elements that will influence the robust nature of the study, that is, the ability of the study to overcome intellectual challenges of adversity.  This is necessary as the study presents as abstract in nature, as the experiences of those interviewed may be interpreted differently by another person or in fact by the same person in differing circumstances.  Within qualitative research such abstract experiences are identified as phenomena (Polit and Beck, 2006).

Within the introduction there should be ...

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