Background: Students, studying for Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees in nursing and midwifery programmes at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) conduct research and submit research dissertations in partial fulfillment of their degrees. As KCN increases its student intake and academic programmes, research generation is obviously on the rise.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate factors, which inhibit and facilitate the conduct of research at KCN and to answer the question 'to what extent is the increase in research contributing to improvements in quality of research at KCN?'
Methods: This was an exploratory qualitative study. It included a desk review of research proposals and dissertations over 5 academic years and in-depth interviews with students and faculty members.
Results: The study findings show some challenges with the quality of research being done despite the potential for improvements. Research is being conducted primarily for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of academic programmes; students engage in research not in line with their field of study; faculty members who supervise student research are allocated not based on their areas of specialisation; and, students are not properly prepared to undertake research. The choice of topics and methodologies chosen are basically a replication of previous research and qualitative research is preferred to quantitative methods.
Conclusions: KCN has the potential to improve the quality of research it generates. Gaps and areas that have to be addressed include: development of guidelines for research; reviewing curricula to include research-methodology modules; introducing quantitative modules including epidemiology, statistics or bio-statistics to prepare students for both quantitative and qualitative studies; and, building the capacity of faculty to teach and supervise students' research adequately.