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Auteur: Nathalie ILIC

Written discourse in clinical research: Mind the body!

Abstract/Résumé: This corpus-based study has been carried out on information documents in the area of oncology (viz. informed consent forms and guidelines for clinical research). Informing potential research subjects is a crucial ethical element for valid consent; however, previous studies in research ethics have shown that potential participants have poor recall and understanding of the information. This presentation focuses on problematic language patterns identified within the text of these documents. Beyond the experience of some inconvenience in reading, there is a non-negligible risk that these (language) patterns could hinder readers’ understanding of participation in research and impede their free informed decision as potential research subjects. Moreover, the bad discursive experience during the reading process refers back deservedly to the question of the writing process: given what he wants to communicate, why and how does the writer utter what he utters? Experiencing the discourse quality of informed consent documents allows the discourse analyst – as an immersed experiencer – to have insight into the roles and experiences of both writer and reader, and puts her at the crossroad of body and mind. This suggests us to rethink the discourse analyst position and to follow an embodied, experientialist as well as interactionist language comprehension view. As we will see, written discourse in clinical research brings to light at least four different concepts of the body: the research material (participant’s body); the described body (patient’s body); the object of research (scientific perspective of the body); the embodied agent and receptacle of discourse (experiencer’s body).