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The Hunt for Patterns of Knowing: Focus on Latin American Nursology Journals

Virginia Ramos dos Santos Souza and
Jacqueline Fawcett

Several patterns of knowing have been identified and some literature about the various patterns has been published (see However, little is known about how these patterns are explicitly identified or reflected in the nursing literature.

This blog is a report of a secondary analysis of data from a bibliometric analysis conducted by the first author of this blog (Souza, 2020). The analysis reported here is of a random sample of 3,790 articles from a total of 32,217 articles published in Latin American nursing [nursology] journals from 1980 to 2017 The articles were identified through a search of the Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature database (LILACS).

Each article was independently reviewed and coded by the two authors of this blog for content that reflected one or more of seven patterns of knowing—empirics, aesthetics, ethics, personal knowing, sociopolitical knowing, emancipatory knowing, and spirituality. Consensus was attained for any differences in coding.

The analysis uncovered a total of 7,939 examples of one or more patterns of knowing in nursology reflected in the content of the 3,790 articles. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that the content of each article reflected an average of 2.1 patterns per article. Specifically, the content of the articles reflected anywhere from one (33.98%), to two (30.8%), three (27.4%), four (7.6%), five (2.6%), to six (0.026%) patterns, with the content of no article reflecting all seven patterns of knowing.

The analysis also revealed that content in articles that reflected empirics, aesthetics, personal knowing, and sociopolitical knowing increased continuously from 1980 to 2017, whereas content reflecting ethics and emancipatory knowing increased irregularly over time. Noteworthy is that content reflecting spirituality did not appear in articles until the 1990s but then increased steadily. The analysis of content for combinations of patterns in any one article indicated most attention has been given to combining empirics with aesthetics and personal knowing.

The results of this bibliometric analysis indicate that nursologists who publish in Latin American nursology journals recognize the importance of more than one way of thinking, although empirics remains foremost. We recommend that nursologists consider publishing their experiences of practice, which most likely include thinking and doing within the context of all seven patterns of knowing and that they translate their practice experiences into research questions that encompass multiple patterns of knowing.


Souza, Virginia Ramos dos Santos. (2020). Epistemological dimensions of scientific knowledge in Latin American nursing. Doctoral dissertation. Universidade Federal da Bahia, Escola de Enfermagem, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil

About Virgínia Ramos dos Santos Souza

Professora RN, CCRN, MScN, Ph.D, Escola de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Rua Basílio da Gama, S/N,, Campus Universitário do Canela, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil

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