Everyday characterizations of translational research: Researchers’ own use of terminology and models in medical research and practice

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Abstract

Biomedical literature and policy are highly concerned with encouraging and improving the clinical application and clinical benefit of new scientific knowledge. Debates, theorizing, and policy initiatives aiming to close the “bench-to-bedside gap” have led to the development of “Translational Research” (TR), an emerging set of research-related discourses and practices within biomedicine. Studies in social science and the humanities have explored and challenged the assumptions underpinning specific TR models and policy initiatives, as well as the socio-material transformations involved. However, only few studies have explored TR as a productive ongoing process of meaning-making taking place as part of the everyday practices of the actual researchers located at the very nexus of science and clinic. This article therefore asks the question of how the discourse and promise of translation is embedded and performed within the practices and perspective of the specific actors involved. The findings are based on material from ethnographic fieldwork among translational researchers situated in a Danish hospital research setting. The analysis draws on the analytical notion of performativity in order to approach statements and models of TR in the light of their performative dimension. This analytical approach thus helps to highlight how the characterizations of TR also contain prescriptions for how the world must change for these characterizations to become true. The analysis provides insights into four different characterizations of TR and reflects on the associated practices where performative success is achieved in practice. With the presentation of these four characterizations, this paper illustrates different uses of the term TR among the actual actors engaged in research-clinic activities and contributes insight into the complex processes of conceptual and material reorganization that form part of the emergence of TR in biomedicine.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer110
TidsskriftHumanities and social sciences communications
Vol/bind6
Antal sider10
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 4 jun. 2020

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