Research dean adds role as journal editor-in-chief

Forefront Digital, Winter 2022
Photo of Dr. Ronald L. Hickman Jr., Associate Dean for Research and the inaugural Ruth M. Anderson Professor of Nursing.

In taking over the role of editor-in-chief of Applied Nursing Research (ANR), four-time Case Western Reserve University alumnus Ronald Hickman, PhD, keeps the nursing academic journal at the university where it began 33 years ago.

Hickman (CWR ‘00; NUR ‘02, ‘06; GRS ‘08, nursing) has served as associate editor of ANR for the past three years and assumed the role of editor-in-chief in January. Hickman is the Associate Dean for Research at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. The journal’s focus and scope is to bridge the gap between research and practice, and Hickman said that will not change under his direction.

“It can take 15 years before research findings are able to break through into practice,” he said. “We’re looking at new opportunities and ways to close that gap of translation.”

Under his leadership, Hickman—who holds the nursing school’s inaugural endowed chair of the Ruth M. Anderson professorship—said the editorial board will be looking at how to not only disseminate research findings, but also to show clinicians how to use that research in practice.

“As I was looking for a successor who was the best fit, Dr. Hickman was well positioned to take over as editor as he had the national reputation and visibility as a nurse scientist,” said Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, PhD, the Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor at the School of Nursing. Fitzpatrick launched ANR and served as the inaugural editor-in-chief for the last three decades.

One of Hickman’s initiatives will be to expand the footprint of the journal’s application lens.

“When Applied Nursing Research was founded, it was done so through a lens of North America and the United States,” he said. “But nursing research has grown and blossomed across the globe. We need to capture that diversity.”

The sheer amount of research and science behind care and solutions toward combating the COVID-19 pandemic is proof enough of the globalization of that research. But Hickman is accustomed to the pace of editing successful academic nursing journals having previously served as a contributing editor for the American Journal of Critical Care for a number of years before joining its editorial board in 2017. He also serves on the editorial board for Nursing Outlook and Nursing Research and Health.

“Dr. Hickman has the requisite knowledge and skills to advance the journal, and to attract key authors and editorial board members,” said Fitzpatrick, a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve.

Past editorial experience allowed Hickman to see what the publishing process is like, and how he would like to diversify nursing academic publications. With few persons from diverse backgrounds shaping nursing journals, Hickman said he’s excited about this new opportunity to influence nursing research and practice in the U.S. and worldwide.

“When you look at the history of nursing journals, there is a homogeneity in terms of [editors-in-chief]. It was reflective of our workforce at the time,” he said. “We need to focus on adding more diversity in terms of race, gender, and other social perspectives.”

That emphasis on diversity extends to professional roles held by editorial board members. Hickman hopes to include not only researchers, but also nursing leaders in healthcare systems—like chief nursing officers and chief nursing executives—and clinical nurse specialists to help close that gap of translation.

The submission of content has been so robust that Hickman and the editorial board are looking to implement their strategies to accelerate the application of nursing research to practice; to transform outdated models of care delivery; and provide patients, families, and communities with effective, safe, and evidence-based nursing care.

Research dean adds role as journal editor-in-chief