Peer Reviewed





In 2003, National Institutes of Health director Elias A. Zerhouni called for the development of innovative research methods that more effectively connect medical research findings to clinical care. His call and the transformative institutional and funding changes it has wrought have opened up an exciting opportunity for rhetorical scholars to join the interdisciplinary project of improving medical research and delivery. Responding to this opportunity, this paper articulates one vision for the rhetorician turned health services researcher. This vision is rooted in Richard McKeon’s insight that in addition to the analysis of discourse and the promotion of good communication practices, the art of rhetoric may also play a role in arranging human knowledge to catalyze the transformation of larger social, political, and scientific enterprises. His work suggests that this “architectonic” function of rhetoric is suited to the highly complex and technological modes of knowledge creation now prevalent in medicine and other artistic and scientific domains. Following his lead, this paper builds the case for an “architectonic” view of the role of rhetoric in interdisciplinary collaboration that is responsive to the “rhetorical situation” emerging from the problems and possibilities of 21st century healthcare.


Translational Research, Health Services Research, Interdisciplinarity, Rhetoric as Architectonic, Richard McKeon

Total Pages

9 pages


Copyright © 2014 John Joseph Rief


The author is currently supported by a fellowship funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and awarded through the Institute for Clinical Research Education and the RAND-University of Pittsburgh Scholars Program at the University of Pittsburgh (Grant # 5T32HS17587-5).