As a central feature of national research and development strategies, clinical effectiveness emphasizes the importance of rigorous experimental research in nursing. It is naïve to assume that over-worked practitioners, with little research training and supervision, can undertake this type of research. Traditional approaches to research support rely on the practitioner registering for a higher degree and academic supervision. This assumes that the responsibility for research lies with practice, with higher education adopting a reactive stance in supporting research and development in nursing. The literature demonstrates a growing number of innovative models for facilitating nursing research. These, however, tend to focus on single appointments with limited and predefined access to clinical areas and patient populations. This article details a new initiative from the Clinical Nursing Practice Research Unit (CNPRU) that aims to support programmatic research in nursing practice through Clinical Networks for Nursing Research. Our research strategy is to contribute to the development of nursing science by facilitating effective collaboration between clinicians and higher education in core clinical specialties, including stroke rehabilitation, diabetes, mental health and community nursing. Each researcher has developed networks with a number of clinical areas, locally, regionally or nationally, through seminars, conferences or newsletters, to link practitioners and generate answerable research questions. Network communications also rely heavily on the establishment of interactive websites. This strategy has resulted in a number of collaborative, evaluative studies including clinical trials in rehabilitation, diabetic nursing and primary care.