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The Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI)

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SPECIAL SECTION: Online Journal Publication

This article is one of a group of articles written in response to a call to online journal editors for manuscripts describing the evolution of their online journal.

Dee McGonigle, PhD, RNC, LCCE, FACCE
Rosalee Seymour, EdD, RN
Sheila Englebardt, PhD, RN, CNA
Maureen Allen, MPH, RN-C
Betty Chang, DNSc, RN, FNP, FAAN


The Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI) was cyberborn in December of 1996. It was one of the first free online journals of nursing. The original aims of OJNI were and remain to publish peer-reviewed, original, high quality scientific papers, review articles, practice-based articles, and databases related to nursing informatics. The philosophical underpinnings for the journal arose from the commitment and drive of the Editorial Board. OJNI is committed to enhancing nursing's knowledge of nursing informatics for nurses in any healthcare setting.

Citation: McGonigle, D., Seymour, R., Englebardt, S., Allen, M., Chang, B. (March 1, 2001) "The Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI)" Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 6 No. 2. Available:

Key words: informatics, electronic publishing, online journal, electronic scholarship

History of OJNI

Dr. McGonigle, a Registered Nurse, approached Dr. Eggers, an Instructional Technologist, with an idea for an online journal for nursing informatics (hence the name). This duo conceptualized the fundamentals of the journal eliciting the help of experts in the fields of informatics and publishing. The co-authors of this article, as well as Dr. Ann Lyness, joined the OJNI team, becoming Associate Editors ( Peer review was imperative for the journal since, according to Harnad (1995), it liberates the journal from one person's perspective and control and makes it accountable to the entire peer population. To this end, expert peer reviewers from around the world were recruited and became members of the OJNI Editorial Board. Dr. Zane Berge and Mauri Collins, experts in the field of publishing and technology-based teaching, agreed to become consultants for OJNI. All of these pioneers comprised the initial Editorial Board for OJNI. Penn State University came on board providing web space for this new journal on their server. Drs. Eggers and McGonigle designed the original and award winning web site.

A letter from the Editors was developed to welcome readers to the first edition. It explained the birthing process for this e-journal, representing the culmination of numerous hours of "cyberspacial" labor and collaboration among the Editorial Board. OJNI's Associate Editors, Rosalee Seymour EdD, RN, Maureen Allen MPH, RN-C, Betty Chang DNSc, RN, FNP, FAAN, Sheila Englebardt PhD, RN, CNA, and Ann Lyness PhD, MLS, MPH, RN, worked tirelessly to develop the e-journal along with the expert Peer Reviewers. The breadth of this Editorial Board, reflected in the collective credentials and expertise of its members, spans all healthcare settings and the health informatics gamut: clinical practice, research, academe, administration, patient education, and managed care. They are a potent intellectual cooperative of informatics knowledge and expertise. The journal and its editors have survived cyberbirth and introduced OJNI, first creeping, then walking, and now running.

The journal and its editors have survived cyberbirth and introduced OJNI, first creeping, then walking, and now running.
The original aims of OJNI remain to publish peer-reviewed, original, high quality scientific papers, review articles, and practice-based articles related to nursing informatics. The philosophical underpinnings for the journal arose from the commitment and drive of the Editorial Board. OJNI is committed to enhancing knowledge related to nursing informatics for nurses practicing in any healthcare setting. OJNI aims to provide nurses with an electronic format to share informatic's research, experiences, perceptions, knowledge, and wisdom with colleagues involved in all facets of nursing informatics. Another aim of OJNI is to use the global power of cyberspace to create an electronic nursing informatics community providing accessible, relevant, and timely information about nursing informatics. OJNI further enhances the speed of online communications through its expeditious, peer-reviewed, editorial process that provides rapid turnaround and publication times. The Editors of OJNI recognize the importance of academic, clinical, and administrative-based perspectives in nursing informatics. Therefore, article submissions are solicited from all facets of the nursing informatics community. OJNI is committed to scholarly excellence. Thus, the Journal will maintain a high standard for peer-reviews, and when necessary, the editorial board will provide assistance to authors guaranteeing high quality manuscripts for its publication. OJNI continues to ride the new web wave in publishing articles and information in a timely manner. The Editors felt compelled to describe this new frontier of e-publishing and encourage submissions. A free Internet has continued to evolve, one that the Editors agreed must continue to house OJNI, as a professional journal with a free subscription policy. This policy yielded a readership for the first edition, Winter 1997, that included 761 people representing 24 countries; over the past 3 years the readership has increased to a new high of 3,100 in 2000. OJNI has from its inception been a collaborative adventure of Editors, Authors and Readers. The Editors invited its new readership to participate in this pioneering effort to develop a cybercommunity of shared nursing informatics expertise. Thanks to those staunch experts and advocates, the inaugural issue of OJNI was released in December of 1996 and launched as the Winter 1997 Edition. By July, 1997, only seven months later, OJNI was indexed in the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). An idea, a collaboration, and a caring community came together to build an award winning, constantly reviewed and revised OJNI arising from ashes to reality.

Another aim of OJNI is to use the global power of cyberspace to create an electronic nursing informatics community providing accessible, relevant, and timely information about nursing informatics.

Description of OJNI

OJNI was one of the first free nursing journals to be launched completely in an online environment. It is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal available to anyone with access to the World Wide Web. Currently there are 3,100 global subscribers, representing 41 countries. These subscribers are students, healthcare professionals, and informatics experts representing the healthcare-related disciplines. In order to view the journal, one must have Internet access and enter the URL. At this time, there is no guest registry for sign-in. The OJNI site does not monitor or track usage and one does not need to be a subscriber to access the journal. OJNI's uniqueness emanates from dedicated editors, its nursing informatics focus, and its free access. The OJNI was awarded the distinction of Commended Site by the Medical Resource Reviews Database in May, 2000.

The journal is currently published with a staff of one, Dr. McGonigle. She hosts, maintains, and continues to serve as webdiva to the site. As Editor-in-Chief, a non-paid position, she launches each edition after the Editorial Board has reviewed all solicited or submitted Manuscripts. All of the Editors are volunteers dedicated to the aims and philosophy of the journal. They give not only of their precious time but also their hard-earned expertise. The survival of the OJNI is sustained through this expertise and dedication.

Publishing In OJNI

Manuscripts are solicited through various nursing listservs and newsgroups, at speaking engagements, and professional meetings attended or provided by the Editors, other word of mouth resources and at the OJNI site. Manuscripts undergo a double-blind, peer review. A decision to publish is based upon the reviews. Currently, OJNI publishes approximately 20% of the manuscripts received; eleven of the 55 articles submitted have been published. As Hardy (1996) noted, one of the most difficult aspects of managing a journal is in locating articles worth publishing. The online journals are competing with print-based journals at a time when the academic world is slowly granting its acceptance of electronic scholarship. Burbules and Bruce (1995) predicted that electronic publishing would become more common and acknowledged as part of scholarship. The number of manuscripts received by OJNI has been increasing with each new edition. All submitted and/or invited manuscripts are retained by OJNI.

When the Editor-in-Chief receives a manuscript, it is logged in and all identification is stripped from the submission. This version of the submission is then sent to the appropriate Associate Editor along with a short list of previously approved and appropriate expert, content Reviewers. The Associate Editor then selects two Reviewers from the short list and sends copies of the submission for their blind review. The Associate Editor completes her own review, receives the comments from the content Reviewers, and forwards both the Editor and peer-reviewer comments along with the publishing decision to the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief contacts the author providing feedback concerning the review and publishing decision. It has also been a practice of the Editors, from the journal's inception, to invite nursing informatics experts to contribute articles for topic-focused editions of the journal. Each invited submission is also blind reviewed and recommended or rejected by the editorial staff. The founding Editors of OJNI agreed with Bailey (1994) that any author(s) should have control over their own material and maintain its copyright. Therefore, the author(s) retains the copyright of her or his own submission while the copyright for each entire edition is held by OJNI. All of the past editions are archived in space allocated by Penn State University. Each edition is assigned to a new web space so the entire edition is moved and remains available online. They are and will remain accessible to anyone.

The Future of OJNI

In cyberspace, the future is now and journal survival requires constant and continuous quality improvement. In future editions new segments such as `Tantalizing Talk About Technology', where our editorial staff will report to readers about the impact of technology on healthcare, and a new website review and evaluation segment where readers will be provided with newly found web sites on a wide range of topics relevant to nursing informatics, will be added. A student section, where students can submit papers for peer-reviewed publication with their faculty and also submit their faculty required web site critiques, is being developed. A joint venture is being negotiated to provide readers with free continuing education credits. Nurses who wish to learn more about Application Service Providers (ASP), Electronic Medical Record Systems (EMRS), and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) should turn to the pages of the OJNI web site at the following URL: It is anticipated that future topics will include: ethics, educational preparation necessary for certification, practice settings and roles, innovative consulting practice, languages, visions of the future of nursing informatics, decision support systems, and the electronic medical record.

The future of OJNI is bright. As an evolving journal, it is our intention to continue to cultivate and enhance OJNI, establishing and nurturing this cybercommunity of shared nursing informatics expertise.


Dee McGonigle, PhD, RNC, LCCE, FACCE

Dee McGonigle is the Editor-in-Chief of OJNI, the President of Educational Advancement Associates and an Associate Professor of Nursing and Information Sciences & Technology at Penn State University. She is interested in the educational impact of the human-technology interface. Dr. McGonigle is committed to the insightful analysis of ethical dilemmas brought on by this volatile information age. Her current area of interest is in the ethical implementation of the care management process and healthcare informatics.

Rosalee Seymour, EdD, RN

Rosalee Seymour is the Editor-in-Charge of Education and Informatics for OJNI and has taught various courses throughout her 35 year nursing career, including psychiatric, research, teaching/learning, rural health, issues, and theory. Dr. Seymour is currently at East Tennessee State University where she teaches both rural health and informatics. She is a past Executive Director for the Delaware Board of Nursing. Dr. Seymour was a delegate to ANA convention in 2000. Her research interests are evidence based care, meta-analyses, and teaching/learning.

Sheila Englebardt, PhD, RN, CNA

Sheila P. Englebardt is the Editor-in-Charge of Nursing Administration and Instructional Technology for OJNI. She is a Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Instructional Technology and Educational Support at the School of Nursing of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She teaches Health Care Informatics online in the Health Care Systems master's program. Sheila is particularly interested in the use of technology to inform administrative decision making and in the potential of the Internet and the World Wide Web for student and consumer education.

Maureen Allen, MPH, RN-C

Maureen Allen is the Editor-in-Charge of Patient Education and Internet-based Continuing Education for OJNI . She is the Research Director at Clinical Tools. She has worked with the company since 1995. Her experience includes developing materials for the Internet for families, patients and health professionals. She was the principle investigator on CTI's project "Living with Parkinson's Disease: An Interactive CD-ROM". Ms. Allen has her Master's degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) and is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Betty Chang, DNSc, RN, FNP, FAAN

Betty L. Chang is Editor-in-Charge of Research and International Issues for OJNI. She is currently a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her clinical area is gerontology, and she teaches courses on the philosophical foundations of science development, educational seminars, and complementary therapies. Dr. Chang is the chair-elect of the working group on Consumer Health Informatics at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), and Departmental Editor for the Western Journal of Nursing Research.


Bailey, C. (1994). Scholarly electronic publishing on the Internet, the NREN, and the NII: Charting Possible Futures. Serials Review, 20 (3): 7-16. Available online at accessed on August 24, 2000.

Burbules, N. & Bruce, B. (1995). This is not a paper. Available online accessed on August 24, 2000.

Hardy, T. (1996). Starting an electronic journal in law, BILETA '96 Conference Proceedings, 3The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). Available online at accessed on August 24, 2000.

Harnad, S. (1995). Implementing peer review on the Net: Scientific quality control (excerpt). Available online at accessed on August 24, 2000.

© 2001 Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
Article published March 1, 2001

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