Language, research and nursing practice


Kristin Björnsdottir Department of Nursing, University of Iceland, Eiriksgata 34, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. E-mail:


Language, research and nursing practice

Aim of the paper. This paper highlights the centrality of language in constructing knowledge. It aims at making us sensitive to the political nature of knowledge production and the complex power relationships that may emerge as a result of our efforts to create new knowledge.

Background: Science, as understood here, is a linguistic construction, rather than a mirror reflection of reality. A number of examples are presented, demonstrating the complex ways in which language is central in shaping all our attempts to know, science included, and nursing practice.

Conclusion: Based on the analysis presented in this paper an argument is made for a substantial re-thinking of nursing research and its relationship to nursing practice. Research needs to be an integral part of everyday nursing practice, a way of posing questions and reflecting on answers. Further, nurses need to be aware of the potentially coercive nature of knowledge as well as its liberating effect.