Anderson T. MIDIRS – a step ahead of the rest. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest. 2006; 16:(2)279-81

Bick D. Evidence based midwifery practice: take care to ‘mind the gap’. Midwifery. 2011; 27:(5)569-70

Chalmers I, Enkin M, Keirse MJNC. Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth.Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1989

Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, Version 5.2.0. 2017. (accessed 6 June 2018)

Midwifery 2020: Delivering expectations.London: The Stationery Office; 2010

Clark E. The historical context of research in midwifery. In: Proctor S, Renfrew M (eds). London: Baillière Tindall;

Changing Childbirth. Report of the Expert Maternity Group.London: The Stationery Office; 1993

The New NHS: Modern, Dependable.London: The Stationery Office; 1997

Developing the Role of the Clinical Academic Researcher in the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions.London: The Stationery Office; 2012

Delivering high quality, effective, compassionate care: Developing the right people with the right skills and the right values.London: The Stationery Office; 2014

Research and Development: Towards an Evidence-based Health Service.London: The Stationery Office; 1995

Drife JO. Evidence farm. BMJ. 1995; 311:(7016)

Enkin M, Keirse MJNC, Chalmers I. A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth.Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1989

Jefford E, Fahy K, Sundin D. A review of the literature: midwifery decision-making and birth. Women Birth. 2010; 23:(4)127-34

Jeffs L, Smith O, Beswick S, Maoine M, Ferris E. Investing in nursing research in practice settings: a blueprint for building capacity. Nurs Leadersh. 2013; 26:(4)44-59

Jones K, Warren A, Davies A. Mind the Gap: Exploring the needs of early career nurses and midwives in the workplace. Summary report from Birmingham and Solihull Local Education and Training Council Every Student Counts Project.London: Health Education England; 2015

Knowles M, Holton E, Swanson R. The Adult Learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development, 7th edn. Abingdon: Elsevier; 2012

Using Research in Practice: A resource for midwives. In: Macdonald S (ed). London: Royal College of Midwives; 2004

McNeill J, Nolan A. midwifery research by midwifery researchers: challenges and considerations. Evidence Based Midwifery. 2011; 9:(2)61-70

Better Births: Improving Outcomes of Maternity Services in England.London: NHS England; 2016

Process and Methods Guides. Developing NICE Guidelines: A guide for stakeholders and the public.Manchester: NICE; 2014

Clinical Governance: Quality in the New NHS. Health Service Circular 1999/065.London: The Stationery Office; 1999

Standards to support learning and assessment in practice.London: NMC; 2008

Standards for pre-registration midwifery education.London: NMC; 2009

The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives.London: NMC; 2015

How to Revalidate with the NMC: Requirements for renewing your registration.London: NMC; 2017

O'Byrne L, Smith S. Models to enhance research capacity and capability in clinical nurses: a narrative review. J Clin Nurs.. 2011; 20:(9-10)1365-71

Power A, Ridge J. What does studying research methods have to do with practice? Views of student midwives and nurses. Br J Midwifery. 2017; 25:(1)59-61

Rees C. An Introduction to Research for Midwives, 3rd edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2012

Renfrew M. The Development of Evidence-Based Practice. Br J Midwifery. 1997; 5:(2)100-4

Rogers A. Teaching Adults, 3rd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2002

Romney ML. Predelivery shaving: an unjustified assault?. J Obstet Gynaecol.. 1980; 1:(1)33-35

Romney ML, Gordon H. Is your enema really necessary?. BMJ.. 1981; 282:(6272)1269-71

Rowland L, Jones C. Research midwives: importance and practicalities. Br J Midwifery. 2013; 21:(1)60-4

Evidence Based Guidelines for Midwifery-Led Care in Labour.London: RCM; 2012

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, Gray J, A M, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ.. 1996; 312:(7023)71-2

Sleep J, Grant A, Garcia J, Elbourne D, Spencer J, Chalmers I. West Berkshire perineal management trial. BMJ.. 1984; 289:(6445)587-90

Evidence Based Midwifery: Applications in context. In: Spiby H, Munro J (eds). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010

Steen M, Roberts T. The Handbook of Midwifery Research.Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2011

Walsh D. Evidence-based practice: whose evidence and on what basis?. Br J Midwifery. 1996; 4:(9)454-7

Walsh D. Research evidence and clinical expertise. Br J Midwifery. 2008; 16:(8)

Walsh D. Reflections on running an evidence course. In: Spiby H, Munro J (eds). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell;

Walsh D, Newburn M. Towards a social model of childbirth: part two. Br J Midwifery. 2002; 10:(9)540-4

Flipped Learning and Midwifery Education. 2015. (accessed 6 June 2018)

‘No offence, it's just that research is boring’: The trials and tribulations of the midwifery research educator

02 July 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 7


Research has not always been a focal point of midwifery work and education; however, since the 1980s, evidence-based practice and research have become the norm. Ensuring that new generations of midwives have an understanding of the research process; an ability to critique it; and a view that research is attainable and necessary to midwifery, is a crucial role of the midwife educator. This article will discuss how the relationship between research and midwifery developed, and how research is now an established part of midwifery undergraduate programmes. It will also suggest meaningful ways of challenging negative attitudes and engaging student midwives to learn about research. The aim is to prepare students for practice by ensuring that the reasoning behind their clinical skills is understood, evaluated and safe, thereby enhancing the care of women and their families and shaping the future of midwifery.

The argument that ‘research is boring’ is one that greets me most days when trying to introduce research to undergraduate student midwives. The role of research in midwifery has become well established and, as a lecturer, I believe that it is important for student midwives to appreciate the importance of research, and to be able to understand and analyse it. However, determining how to achieve this, when student midwives do not always immediately see its value, has not been an easy journey. This article will discuss how research has become embedded in midwifery practice and education, and how midwifery educators can begin to engage student midwives in research and evidence.

Research has not always played a role in midwifery care and education. Memories of common midwifery practices that were not evidence-based, such as routine shavings, enemas and episiotomies, remain vivid in the memories of both midwives and women (Steen and Roberts, 2011). During the 1980s, however, the concept of evidence-based practice began to emerge in medicine, through the work of David Sackett at McMaster University in Canada (Spiby and Munro, 2010). Medical professionals were encouraged to act on available research, and eradicate care that was based purely on a health professional's personal preference and tradition (Rees, 2012). This same ethos was transferred into midwifery care through the work of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) in Oxford, which was established in 1978 and comprised researchers from various backgrounds, including midwifery. The NPEU was led by Iain Chalmers and was developed after Archie Cochrane, a leading British epidemiologist, made disparaging remarks about the lack of evidence in the care of pregnant women (Renfrew, 1997). The following years saw the development of research within midwifery; in 1985, the Midwives Information and Resources Service (MIDIRS) was created, a journal dedicated to the dissemination of midwifery knowledge (Anderson, 2006), and research by NPEU led to the publication of Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth (Chalmers et al, 1989) and a subsequent guide (Enkin et al, 1989). This is one of the first examples of evidence in childbirth being collated and synthesised for use in midwifery care (Renfrew, 1997). It was also at this time that midwives began to undertake research themselves, and Clark (2000) highlights revolutionary midwifery research into shaving (Romney, 1980), enemas (Romney and Gorden, 1981) and routine episiotomies (Sleep et al, 1984). The Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Database, a collection of the latest research and evidence, followed in 1993 (Chandler et al, 2017), and for the first time, provided every midwife with easy access to the latest research and evidence-based knowledge (Renfrew, 1997). Research was also introduced into the midwifery curriculum in the 1980s (Macdonald, 2004). When midwifery education was assimilated into higher education institutions in the 1990s, it cemented the concept of midwifery as an evidence-based profession (Clark, 2000).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month