The research is undertaken primarily to generate nursing knowledge. The purpose may be to fill in knowledge gaps in response to changes in the health care environment or to provide opportunities for training and gaining some valuable experience in the research. For example, the government conducted research on the state of nursing education in the 1940s to ensure the supply of proficient nurses needed during the 2nd World War. The current focus of nursing research on evidence-based practice is spurred by reforms strengthening accountability in the health care sector. However, research activity cannot be undertaken without funding. For this reason, research grants, awarded by the Sigma Theta Tau International in 1930s, are indispensable to nursing research.
Today, the Sigma Theta Tau International through private funding provides various types of grants for the express purpose of encouraging nurses “to contribute to the advancement of nursing through research”. Priority is given to novice researchers based on research proposal quality and represents an opportunity for inexperienced researchers to achieve proficiency. Public funding is provided by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) which allocates grants based on research proposal relevance to identified knowledge gaps in nursing. Currently, these are “health promotion/disease prevention, eliminating health disparities, caregiving, symptom management, and self-management, and quality of life” (Preparation for a grant, n.d.). Additionally, funding is also available for postgraduate training in the research.
Research funding, such as by the STTI and the NINR, shapes the multiple paradigm of nursing by helping generate nursing knowledge founded on different theoretical frameworks. The STTI, because of its global focus, reflects new paradigms, e.g. cultural or feminist frameworks, which are relevant in other countries as settings of nursing practice. The NINR, in helping the nursing profession adapts to reforms improving the quality of health care, aids in the conduct of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the tradition of biomedical research to generate evidence for interventions as well as qualitative researches which are useful in studying concepts not amenable to RCTs such as caregiving.