62.3, August 2015

A Research Journal of Your Making


This issue of Technical Communication is a transition issue, filled with endings and beginnings. It includes the final two articles for which Menno De Jong served as editor, managing the review and revision process and making the final decision to accept the manuscripts for publication. This issue, however would be incomplete without my inaugural article as editor. And I am especially pleased that this article was co-authored by Menno De Jong—publishing again in the journal he served for six years as editor-in-chief. The merits of this issue are thus almost entirely his, as editor and as author.

In “Implications of Desnoyers’ Taxonomy for Standardization of Data Visualization: A Study of Students’ Choice and Knowledge,” Rachel Rayl (in her first article in this journal) examines a relatively new system (with a new lexicon) for categorizing scientific and technical illustrations. She considers the potential of this taxonomy as a vehicle for teaching STEM students (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), in particular, the complexities and efficiencies of data visualization.

In “Key Elements of an Effective Style Guide in the New Age,” Esha Adhya (also writing her first article for this journal), identifies the salient traits of the corporate style guide through both a comparative analysis of several examples as well as through interviews and a survey of technical communicators. The findings here make the case for the continuing importance and influence of the style guide on corporate communications.

In “Cultural Differences and User Instructions: Effects of a Culturally Adapted Manual Structure on Western and Chinese Users,” Qian Li, Menno D.T. de Jong, and Joyce Karreman initiate a systematic empirical investigation of widely accepted theories about the influence of culture on reading preferences. Their experiment with college students from the People’s Republic of China versus students from Europe and North America generates findings that challenge conventional thinking about cross-cultural communication.

And continuing the journal’s transition is the November issue to be guest edited by Kirk St.Amant of East Carolina University.

The February 2016 issue will introduce several important changes but my intention is to keep Technical Communication a journal that every member of STC feels proud of and invested in. I hope only to build on the impressive achievements and innovations of Menno De Jong and George Hayhoe and Frank Smith.

Though I am beginning my time as editor, I have been a member of STC for 26 years and during this period Technical Communication has been my journal of choice: I have published seven singled-authored and co-authored articles in Technical Communication, more than I have in any other single journal. I am committed as a scholar in this field and as a member of this organization to the life and reputation of the journal.

I thus especially encourage academic–industry partnerships in the creation and consumption of the research published in the journal. I believe the contributors to Technical Communication ought to exemplify and inspire international and interdisciplinary academic-industry cooperation. I am excited to publish articles by academics who find industry collaborators and vice versa and who address the implications of their research for the job and for the classroom.

I am also instituting Q&A as a regular section of the journal, soliciting your questions about the articles you find in the journal (especially applied theory and applied research articles) and asking authors to answer these questions carefully and thoughtfully, with the Q&A published in a subsequent issue of the journal. These will be genuine question-and-answer exchanges—neither comment and response nor ridicule and refutation. For example, readers might ask “You propose that we should be doing X, but at my company there’s resistance to X. What strategies could I adopt to address this resistance?” or “Your experience with intercultural communication in the X industry is different from my experience in the Y industry. Do you think your findings are industry-specific? How do we reconcile or navigate the variations among industries?” I anticipate questions of 100-200 words and answers of 500-1000 words. As you read through the articles in this issue, please be thinking of questions you would like to ask the authors and e-mail your questions to tceditor@stc.org.

I hope the interactive Q&A section will make clear that the articles in Technical Communication are published not just for other researchers to read and cite but are intended to stimulate thinking and conversation across the field and across STC. This section will be the opportunity for authors and readers to engage each other in rewarding extensions of the original article. Especially lively Q&A exchanges could be the subject for featured presentations at the next STC Summit or for STC webinars.

In addition, I will cultivate greater attention to bibliographic essays. Scores of dissertations are being written in the field, each with a review of literature. Many of these literature reviews have the potential to be key contributions to the body of knowledge—by summarizing, categorizing, and evaluating existing studies; by explicating productive and unproductive research methods; and by identifying directions and methods for new research.

I am also making the cover of the journal a juried opportunity for the graphic artists among us to address issues pertinent to the field through diagrams, drawings, collages, infographics, cartoons, comic strips, or brief graphic narratives that will edify and energize research. That is, the cover will be instructive and informative instead of only decorative. Submissions will be anonymously reviewed, and a jury of peers will select each issue’s cover. Honorable mentions will be published inside the journal.

And I encourage case histories designed as graphic narratives.

I think my aim for the journal is simple but ambitious: What you read in Technical Communication today should change how you think tomorrow about your job, your research project, your classroom, or your community.

The success of this effort—the journal’s success—hinges on your sharing your insights. Here are seven things you could do:

  1. Write articles: the journal publishes case histories, tutorials, and literature reviews as well as articles of applied research and applied theory.
  2. Review manuscripts: if you are willing to serve as a reviewer of manuscripts submitted to the journal, e-mail a résumé to tceditor@stc.org and specify the topics on which you could offer your wisdom and advice.
  3. Write for the Book Review section: if you read a new book or hear about a new book that would be pertinent to TC’s readers, offer to write a book review.
  4. Write for the Recent & Relevant section: if you read an article in another journal that would be pertinent to TC’s readers, offer to write a summary of the article.
  5. Submit illustrations for each issue’s cover competition.
  6. Write in with your questions about the articles you read in the journal.
  7. Mention articles in the journal on social media: as you read something interesting or important in the journal, let your friends and colleagues in the field know.

And, as always, if you have ideas about the journal, don’t hesitate to e-mail (tceditor@stc.org).