Translational research: where is LIS bedside?

by | Sep 26, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

  By Suzana Sukovic

Last month I had a pleasure to participate in LISRA’s webinar, Sharing practitioner-research: a panel discussionIn my opening talk, I mentioned a need to engage with ‘translational research’ in LIS. In response to a question from the audience, I promised to share some resources, and here is my answer.

Translational research originates in health and is still predominantly used to advance health outcomes. It is often described as ‘bench to bedside research’. ‘Translational research’, ‘research translation’ and ‘knowledge translation’ are the terms often used interchangeably, but there is some difference in meaning (see explanation of terminology by Sydney Health Partners). 

So, what is it? 

‘Translational research makes engagement with practitioners and the wider community its priority. It seeks to “translate” research in ways that enable that research to be applied. It also “closes the circle” by allowing practitioners to provide feedback to researchers based on their experience’, explains Pru Mitchell in her article From concept to classroom: what is translational research? 

Mitchell’s article is about translational research in education, one of the areas outside health in which this type of research is gaining prominence. A/Prof Elaine Wethington explains reasons why social sciences are later adopters, and outlines some benefits of translational research.  

So far, librarians have been described as supporters of translational research in health, and the support role was discussed in the literature. However, the library and information sector hasn’t applied translational research in its own practice in any substantial way. Once again, our field needs to decide how to move beyond research support to develop our discipline and practice.

Writing this post, I remembered another LARK blog post about lessons from health. This older post is about my conference presentation Towards a teaching library: connecting academia and the profession presented at EBLIP8 (see slides). Since then, I worked in education research in health, and now believe more than ever in the concept of a ‘teaching library’. Furthermore, I now think that the model of a ‘teaching library’ may be a way to introduce translational research into LIS. Some food for thought while we think what ‘bench to bedside’ means in our field.

For further exploration

ACER, Translational Research 

Choi P J, Tubbs R, Oskouian R J (March 19, 2018) The Current Trend of the Translational Research Paradigm. Cureus 10(3): e2340. DOI 10.7759/cureus.2340

CQUniversity Library, Knowledge Translation 

Lowitja Institute, Knowledge Translation 

USC Library, Research Knowledge Translation Defined

Dr Suzana Sukovic is Director of Research and Library Services, PLC Sydney

Translational research image source:


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