Writing CPD articles

Continuing professional development (CPD) articles in RCNi journals have a clearly defined purpose and follow a particular structure.

CPD articles are usually commissioned by the editor for a fee rather than being submitted speculatively.

Editors welcome suggestions for topics, however, and can give you detailed support and advice on content and structure. Therefore, the points that follow are intended to give only an outline of what is involved. 

Here is an example of a CPD article from Nursing Older People on the assessment, prevention and management of skin tears.

However, if you are interested in writing a CPD article, contact the respective journal editor first to discuss your idea. 

Structure

A CPD article should begin by stating clearly:
•    The overall aim.
•    The learning outcomes; four or five are usually sufficient.

It should end with a short conclusion summarising the main points covered.

Style and tone

CPD articles require a consistent and user-friendly tone. The style does not need to be overly ‘academic’ to get across information of a sufficiently high level and quality, but neither should readers find it too simple or patronising. Aim to be directive, factual and evidence-based. You should teach readers rather than suggest a particular course of action.

As with other types of article, it is important to remember that the information you provide should be accurate and unambiguous.

Time out activities

A CPD article should include a maximum of ten Time Out activities. The purpose of these is to make readers stop and think about what they are reading and relate it to their current practice or experience.

Each activity should have a clear purpose; for example, it may test whether readers have achieved one of the stated learning outcomes, or you could introduce a new idea by asking readers to think about and then write down what they understand by a particular term or concept.

Readers value CPD articles and the contribution they can make to their learning and their portfolios. They add to development resources and can be used to strengthen individual and team performance. For these reasons, and even though they require careful thought and organisation, they can be immensely satisfying to write.

For more specific guidance, look at the section on author guidelines.

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