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Keywords:

  • evidence-based practice;
  • implementation;
  • literary theory;
  • sociology of scientific knowledge

This paper recontextualises research evidence as an example of textually-based social control. It does this by drawing on two areas of theoretical literature; feminist literary theory and the sociology of scientific knowledge. Accounts of literary works as ideological instruments of social control suggest that (at least some kinds of) research literature may fulfil a similar role among a clinical readership. There have also been compelling accounts of scientific writing as expressions of desire on the part of one group to ‘act at a distance’ upon others. In the light of this literature, it becomes less tenable to see research dissemination as the simple transfer of information, supplemented by organisational work. Research is implicated in the attempt by one group to enrol others in its own project and in the (self-)construction of the identities of the healthcare worker. The accounts that literary theory can provide do not remain focused upon the text, but draw links between the reading process and the experience and place in society, for example the gender, of the writer and reader. As such their explanations create a space for the resisting reader.