Accepted Paper:

Mapping the landscape of translational research  


Anne K. Krueger (Humboldt University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Although translational research (TR) is an omnipresent topic, there exists no commonly shared definition of it. Based on a qualitative content analysis, we map the landscape of TR by correlating the justifications of the need for TR with the understandings about TR procedures.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, translational research (TR) has become recognized as the panacea for the "valley of death" (Butler 2008) and "waste in research" (see The Lancet 2014). Since the 1990s, new funding programs and research organizations have been established to promote TR. Publications have increased significantly and even new journals have been issued.

Yet, although TR is an omnipresent topic in (bio-)medical research, clinical care, health politics, and pharma industry, there exists no commonly shared definition of it. Different justifications imply different perspectives on problems and solutions that render the understanding of TR as a distinctive practice and a locally and temporally determined phase within the (bio-)medical knowledge production continuum in different ways.

In order to shed light on the different understandings and corresponding justifications, we conduct a qualitative content analysis of 345 articles from (bio-)medical journals that discuss concepts and practices of TR. First, we analyze the proposed chains of cause and effect that theorize and justify (1) why TR is needed, (2) which goals are sought to be achieved by implementing TR, and (3) which solutions are proposed as viable for enhancing TR. Second, we code where and when TR is understood to take place. Finally, we correlate the justifications of the need for TR with the understandings about TR procedures thereby mapping the landscape of TR in (bio-)medical knowledge production. This mapping allows us to see how TR is currently understood, justified, and thus translated into actions and organizational structures.

Panel T031
Topographies of clinical translation: charting novel sociotechnical landscapes within and around biomedical research.