The Culture of Translational Science Research: Participants' Stories




Kotarba, Joseph A.
Wooten, Kevin
Freeman, Jean
Brasier, Allan R.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of California Press


We apply a symbolic interactionist framework and a qualitative methodology to the examination of the everyday reality of translational science research (TSR). This is a growing scientific movement that aims to facilitate the efficient application of basic research to clinical service design and delivery. We describe the emerging culture of translational research at a mid-size medical center that received a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. The stories related by scientists, clinicians, and students in interviews indicate that they make sense of the emerging inter- and cross-disciplinary, team-oriented culture of TSR through the refinement and redefinition of the significant symbols that inform their work while they attempt to master translational research by addressing the dilemmas it produces for them and their work. We see the strength, currency, adaptability, and energy of the core self-definition of "scientist" to be significant in shaping the emerging culture of translational research. We conclude by celebrating the value of interpretive ethnography for evaluation research.



translational research, qualitative research, evaluation, symbolic interactionism, interpretive ethnography, knowledge transfer, science, Sociology


Kotarba, J. A., Wooten, K., Freeman, J., & Brasier, A. R. (2013). The culture of translational science research: Participants’ stories. International Review of Qualitative Research, 6(1), pp. 127–142.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI