64.1, February 2017

Recent and Relevant

The following articles on technical communication have appeared recently in other journals. The abstracts are prepared by volunteer journal monitors. If you would like to contribute, contact Lyn Gattis at LynGattis@MissouriState.edu.

“Recent & Relevant” does not supply copies of cited articles. However, most publishers supply reprints, tear sheets, or copies at nominal cost. Lists of publishers’ addresses, covering nearly all the articles we have cited, appear in Ulrich’s international periodicals directory.


Technical communication practices in the collaborative landscape: A case study in media structure transformation

Löwgren, J. (2016). Communication Design Quarterly, 4(3), 20–25. [doi: none]

“Professional practices in technical communication are increasingly being challenged by the emergence of collaborative media that enable users to access technical information created by nonprofessionals. At the same time, these technologies also allow technical communicators to provide a continually expanding audience with knowledge and skills needed now more than ever. Through a co-design case study, researchers developed a new and innovative platform for producing and distributing technical information including user-generated content. Moreover, the events of the case included market strategies in which a professional organization moved from a reactive to a more proactive position on collaborative media. In so doing, they outlined a set of new professional roles for technical communicators including editors, curators, facilitators, and community managers.”

Lyn Gattis


Communicating briefly: Technically

Stephens, K., & Barrett, A. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(4), 398–418. doi: 10.1177/2329488414525463

“People and organizations often communicate through technologies that restrict their communication to very few characters: a difficult task when the content is highly technical and specialized. This study relies on the theoretical work of informative and explanatory communication, and it expands the utility of this theory into new communication technology environments where brevity is valued and practically forced on the user. [The authors] content analyzed 1,367 Twitter messages spanning a 6-month time following a highly technical and controversial organizational event. The analyses reveal that even though Twitter is limited to 140 alphanumeric characters, almost one third of all messages contained some type of technical details. The technical translation strategies—direct, elucidating, or quasi-scientific—used in the microblog were either self-contained or briefly introduced with expanded details available by accessing hyperlinks. Furthermore, the specific types of technical translation strategies that this organization used changed over time.”

Katherine Wertz

Corporate social responsibility and the communication imperative: Perspectives from CSR managers

Chaudhri, V. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(4), 419–442. doi: 10.1177/2329488414525469

“This study examines the communication imperative for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Based on in-depth interviews with CSR managers in large domestic and global corporations in India, the study furthers scholarly efforts to situate communication as central to the enactment of socially responsible behavior. The article begins by explicating the three prominent approaches—instrumental, relational, and constitutive—advanced in CSR scholarship, as a basis for understanding how CSR managers construct or articulate the case for communication in CSR. Participant discourses suggest an important and multi-dimensional role for communication, emphasize the need for subtlety and balance in communicating CSR, and point to the role of the media as a potential (dis)enabler for ‘getting the word out.’ The study also reflects on the intersections and departures between scholarship and practice of CSR communication.”

Katherine Wertz

The effectiveness of crisis communication strategies on Sina Weibo in relationship to Chinese publics’ acceptance of these strategies

Ngai, C. S., & Jin, Y. (2015). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 30(4), 451–494. doi: 10.1177/1050651916651907

This article is applicable to teaching effective communication strategies when using social media in technical writing professions. “With their timely, interactive nature and wide public access, social media have provided a new platform that empowers stakeholders and corporations to interact in crisis communication. This study investigates crisis communication strategies and stakeholders’ emotions in response to a real corporate crisis—the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214—in order to enhance our understanding of socially mediated crisis communication. The authors examine 8,530 responses from Chinese stakeholders to crisis communication on the Chinese microblogging Web site Sina Weibo. Their findings suggest that the integrated use of accommodative and defensive communication strategies in the early stage of postcrisis communication prevented escalation of the crisis.”

Sean Herring

Managing difficult workplace conversations: Goals, strategies, and outcomes

Bradley, G., & Campbell, A. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(4), 443–464. doi: 10.1177/2329488414525468

“Many conversations involve sending or receiving ‘bad news.’ These conversations are often dreaded, poorly executed, or avoided altogether. Ways need to be found to make them less difficult and more productive. [The authors] explored these issues through three methodologically diverse studies. Study 1 comprised in-depth interviews with 24 nurse managers. Interviews shed light on the characteristics of difficult conversations and strategies for making them less awkward and more successful. Study 2 was a survey investigating relationships between six dimensions of supportive communication and participant satisfaction with a difficult superior-subordinate conversation. Study 3 experimentally manipulated two supportive communication behaviors, plus a third variable, face-work. Together, these studies show that successful outcomes from difficult workplace conversations require the parties to balance task and relational goals, with the latter particularly dependent on acts of empathy and face-giving.”

Katherine Wertz

Public engagement in environmental impact studies: A case study of professional communication in transportation planning

Moore, K. R. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(3), 245–260. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2583278

“Environmental impact studies often enlist professional communicators to develop and implement public engagement plans and processes. However, few detailed reports of these public engagement plans exist in either scholarly venues or government reports. This case reviews one public engagement project in transportation planning as implemented by one professional communications firm. . . . This environmental impact study team was tasked with determining the best way to accommodate the increase in rail traffic [a specific] city anticipated with the development of [a] high-speed rail. The public’s input was needed to fulfill environmental impact statement (EIS) requirements and to fully understand the community concerns regarding the increased traffic, noise, vibrations, and family/business displacements. . . . This case provides an overview of the process of developing public engagement plans, the deliverables designed, as well as the key goals that guided the development of public engagement. [The] case suggests that effective public engagement can address intercultural concerns by developing projects that are adaptable, multimodal, and dialogic.”

Lyn Gattis


The communicative work of biology-journal captions: Lessons for technical and professional communication

Smith, J., Mackiewicz, J., Hanson, D., Fanning, S., & Doan, S. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 260–277. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1222453

“The authors examined a corpus of figure captions from technical and professional communication (TPC)-journal articles to test their sense that TPC captions do not fulfill their communicative potential as well as, they sensed, journals in science often do. The authors performed a content analysis on captions from biology-journal articles and iteratively tested a coding scheme of caption content. The resulting scheme can help in analyzing caption content, developing captions, and imparting a variety of TPC-related skills to students.”

Rhonda Stanton

Letterform research: An academic orphan

Beier, S. (2016). Visible Language, 50(2). [online] [doi: none]

“This paper looks into the history of letterform research and discusses why the discipline has yet to make the big break within design research. By highlighting two of the most popular focus areas (letter distinctiveness and the role of serifs) and by discussing various forms of methodological shortcomings, the paper suggests that future research into letterforms should (1) draw on results from the field of reading research (2) be based on test material informed by design knowledge and (3) move away from the former tendency of looking for universal answers.”

Lyn Gattis

Meaning and material in the language of the street

Cook, V. (2015). Social Semiotics, 25(1), 81–109. doi: 10.1080/10350330.2014.964025

“This paper describes the materiality of street signs, an unappreciated and ubiquitous type of everyday written text. Drawing on social semiotics, linguistic landscapes and writing system research, it uses a categorisation of social roles associated with street signs and of the functions of street signs applied to street signs in Newcastle upon Tyne, with some other wider examples. The materials are divided into: stone and metal signs, which use capitals and archaic letters, convey permanence and quality, and are locating in function; signs handwritten or printed on paper, which also use capitals, convey temporary status and novelty and are mostly informing; painted signs, which often use lower case, have highly individual letter forms to express identity, and are usually informing; other materials ranging from glass to snow, expressing diverse ideas of permanence. The conclusion is that the meaning of street signs depends in part on the materials they are made of, particularly to convey permanence and identity.”

Edward A. Malone

The multiple meanings of a flowchart

Ensmenger, N. (2016). Information & Culture: A Journal of History, 51(3), 321–351. doi: 10.1353/lac.2016.0013

“From the very earliest days of electronic computing, flowcharts have been used to represent the conceptual structure of complex software systems. In much of the literature on software development, the flowchart serves as the central design document around which systems analysts, computer programmers, and end users communicate, negotiate, and represent complexity. And yet the meaning of any particular flowchart was often highly contested, and the apparent specificity of such design documents rarely reflected reality. Drawing on the sociological concept of the boundary object, this article explores the material culture of software development with a particular focus on the ways in which flowcharts served as political artifacts within the emerging communities of practices of computer programming.”

Edward A. Malone

Reading digital with low vision

Legge, G. E. (2016). Visible Language, 50(2). [online] [doi: none]

“Reading difficulty is a major consequence of vision loss for more than four million Americans with low vision. Difficulty in accessing print imposes obstacles to education, employment, social interaction and recreation. In recent years, research in vision science has made major strides in understanding the impact of low vision on reading, and the dependence of reading performance on text properties. The ongoing transition to the production and distribution of digital documents brings about new opportunities for people with visual impairment. Digital documents on computers and mobile devices permit customization of print size, spacing, font style, contrast polarity and page layout to optimize reading displays for people with low vision. As a result, we now have unprecedented opportunities to adapt text format to meet the needs of visually impaired readers.”

Lyn Gattis


Scientific author names: Errors, corrections, and identity profiles

Gasparyan, A. Y., Yessirkepov, M., Gerasimov, A. N., Kostyukova, E. I., & Kitas, G. D. (2016). Biochemia Medica, 26(2), 169–173. doi: 10.11613/BM.2016.017

“The issue of inconsistencies of listing and abbreviating author names has come to the fore lately. There are reports on the difficulties of figuring out Chinese surnames and given names of South Indians in scholarly articles. . . . This article presents an example of swapping second (father’s) name with surname in a ‘predatory’ journal, where numerous instances of incorrectly identifying and crediting authors passed unnoticed for the journal editors, and no correction has been published. Possible solutions are discussed in relation to identifying author profiles and adjusting editorial policies to the emerging problems.”

Edward A. Malone


Lessons from Scranton: Using scenes from the television series The Office to teach topics in professional communication

Bloch, J., & Spataro, S. E. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(3), 274–287. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2583300

Despite efforts to include communication instruction in both college and continuing education curricula for students in all areas of study, workplace surveys continually report that employees’ communication skills are lacking. The differing contexts of school and the workplace may be one reason for this disconnect, so teaching strategies that can effectively bridge this gap are needed. . . . To make undergraduate writing courses more relevant to the workplace, specific scenes from The Office were integrated to teach units on negative messages and intercultural issues. Following these clips, students completed both in-class exercises and course assignments pertaining to the topics covered. . . . After completing the class sessions and associated exercises described here, most students could discern the relevant concepts from the clips; they found both the clips and the associated exercises helpful in learning the concepts; and they recommended ongoing use in future classes. . . . Drawbacks included scenes focusing on what not to do, that often showed communication gone awry rather than the correct way to communicate. Some students also prefer more traditional teaching methods. . . . The results indicate that the use of television clips along with associated exercises can be useful aids in teaching professional communication concepts.”

Lyn Gattis

Where do they go? Students’ sources of résumé advice, and implications for critically reimagining the résumé assignment

Randazzo, C. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 278–297. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1221142

“This article explores what sources students use for advice while writing their résumés, their reasons for choosing those sources, and their perceptions about the sources’ quality. Results from surveys, interviews, and focus groups with 86 undergraduates and 20 career counselors and instructors suggest issues with educators’ credibility and students’ access. To address these issues, the author suggests that educators approach the résumé as a research project, which empowers students and legitimizes educators’ expertise.”

Rhonda Stanton

Health communication

Designing online resources for safety net healthcare providers: Users’ needs and the evidence-based medicine paradigm

Opel, D. (2016). Communication Design Quarterly, 4(3), 35–45. [doi: none]

“As the healthcare system in the United States becomes more complex, so does the information needed for administrators and clinicians to keep apprised of new regulatory and systemic changes. In this article, [the author uses] a review and analysis of an online resource project to identify effective practices to educate and support healthcare safety net organizations, or those clinics that serve low-income populations. The project team consisted primarily of healthcare researchers who used a systematic review of the scholarly literature to develop online systems for transmitting information about healthcare payment and service delivery reform to those serving low income populations. As the technical communicator working on this project, the author advocated incorporating concepts of user research and user-centered design to the project team. This research included a survey of provider-users. The analysis of this project revealed that, in the health and medical community, evidence-based medicine and the genre of systematic literature review may be privileged such that provider-user needs for information seeking are not taken into account when designing online communication based on these reviews. Communication designers may need to work with and adapt the work of translation science and knowledge-to-action to develop more user-centered online content for provider education.”

Lyn Gattis

Information management


Schengili-Roberts, K. (2016). Best Practices, 18(4), 88–93. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

“[S]earch engine optimization (SEO) [is] the half-art/half-science discipline whose goal is to increase traffic to a web site by seeking improved search engine rankings on the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. There are digital agencies out there whose raison d’être is to increase SEO for their client companies, but this focus is almost always for a company’s marketing materials. In many cases, SEO for a company’s technical documentation is an afterthought, if it is even thought of at all. Technical documentation is part of the digital and social media landscape, and there is evidence that would-be purchasers will sometimes look at and assess the quality of a product’s documentation prior to buying a product. The after-purchase experience is also important, as users may have a need for product documentation when seeking more information on a particular function or trying to solve a problem. But if users can’t find your documentation, it is a lost opportunity to engage with them. While there are some distinct SEO strategies for DITA documentation, the best thing you can do is to know your audience and write for them, as effective SEO for technical documentation is more about content relevancy than ‘tricks.’” This article describes how search engines work and discusses what writers should know about optimizing metadata for search engines and for users seeking information.

Lyn Gattis

Managing corporate memory on the semantic web

Khilwani, N., & Harding, J. A. (2016). Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, 27(1), 101–118. doi: 10.1007/s10845-013-0865-4

“Corporate memory (CM) is the total body of data, information and knowledge required to deliver the strategic aims and objectives of an organization. In the current market, the rapidly increasing volume of unstructured documents in the enterprises has brought the challenge of building an autonomic framework to acquire, represent, learn and maintain CM, and efficiently reason from it to aid in knowledge discovery and reuse. . . . The proposed approach gleans information from the documents, converts into a semantic web resource using resource description framework (RDF) and RDF Schema and then identifies relations among them using latent semantic analysis technique. The efficacy of the proposed approach is demonstrated through empirical experiments conducted on two case studies.”

Edward A. Malone


What research has to say about supporting error handling in training

van der Meij, H., & Flacke, M.-L. (2016). Best Practices, 18(4), 94–98. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

“Tutorials give vastly more attention to the correct procedures for task accomplishment than to failures to complete tasks. This fact indicates that helping the user complete tasks without committing any errors is valued higher than helping the user deal with mistakes. Yet, much can be gained from providing more user support for error handling. This article compares views and outcomes associated with error-avoidant approaches to those related to error-inclusive approaches in training. . . . Empirical research comparing an error-avoidant with an error-inclusive approach almost consistently favors the latter. Advantages that have been reported are faster and better task accomplishment, deeper structural product knowledge, better transfer of skill, more positive moods, and higher self-efficacy. These facts should be seen as an important signal that technical communicators can significantly enhance the customer experience by structurally incorporating error handling information in the training materials that they develop.”

Lyn Gattis

Intercultural communication

The avatars of culture in website localization

Bahri, H., & Mahadi, T. S. T. (2015). International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding, 2(6), 33–40. doi: dx.doi.org/10.18415/ijmmu.v2i6.34

“The aim of the present paper is to investigate the most important cultural aspects involved in website localization by drawing on the data obtained from a number of Iranian website localizers. A questionnaire was given to 18 participants with varied degrees of expertise and experience who worked on website localization projects in either of English  Persian, Arabic  Persian, and French  Persian directions for at least 3 years. The participants of the study were asked to rate as many factors as they perceived crucial in determining the cultural content of websites. . . . The results of the study show that ideology, pictures, and symbols were considered to be the most important variables in website localization, while localization of branding was the trickiest.”

Edward A. Malone

Document representation with statistical word senses in cross-lingual document clustering

Tang, G., Xia, Y., Cambria, E., Jin, P., & Zheng, T. F. (2015). International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence, 29(2), 1559003-1 through 1559003-26. doi: 10.1142/S021800141559003X

“Cross-lingual document clustering is the task of automatically organizing a large collection of multi-lingual documents into a few clusters, depending on their content or topic. It is well known that language barrier and translation ambiguity are two challenging issues for cross-lingual document representation. To this end, [the authors] propose to represent cross-lingual documents through statistical word senses, which are automatically discovered from a parallel corpus through a novel cross-lingual word sense induction model and a sense clustering method. In particular, the former consists in a sense-based vector space model and the latter leverages on a sense based latent Dirichlet allocation. Evaluation on the benchmarking datasets shows that the proposed models outperform two state-of-the-art methods for cross-lingual document clustering.”

Edward A. Malone

Networked multilingualism: Some language practices on Facebook and their implications

Androutsopoulos, J. (2015). International Journal of Bilingualism, 19(2), 185–205. doi: 10.1177/1367006913489198

“Integrating research on multilingualism and computer-mediated communication, this paper proposes the term ‘networked multilingualism’ and presents findings from a case study to explore its implications for the theorising of multilingualism. . . . The empirical part of the paper discusses the Facebook language practices of a small group of Greek-background secondary school students in a German city. . . . Focusing on four weeks of discourse on profile walls, the analysis examines the participants’ linguistic repertoires, their language choices for genres of self-presentation and dialogic exchange, and the performance of multilingual talk online. The findings suggest that the students’ networked multilingual practices are individualised, genre-shaped, and based on wide and stratified repertoires.”

Edward A. Malone


The behavioral and neural effects of language on motion perception

Francken, J. C., Kok, P., Hagoort, P., & de Lange, F. P. (2015). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(1), 175–84. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00682

“Perception does not function as an isolated module but is tightly linked with other cognitive functions. Several studies have demonstrated an influence of language on motion perception, but it remains debated at which level of processing this modulation takes place. . . . Here, [the authors] investigated whether language–perception interactions were specific to the language-dominant left hemisphere by comparing the effects of language on visual material presented in the right (RVF) and left visual fields (LVF). Furthermore, [they] determined the neural locus of the interaction using fMRI. . . . [Their] results suggest that semantic information about motion retrieved in language regions may automatically modulate perceptual decisions about motion.”

Edward A. Malone


The effects of leader motivating language use on employee decision making

Mayfield, M., & Mayfield, J. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(4), 465–484. doi: 10.1177/2329488415572787

“This study examines the link between strategic leader verbal communication and effective employee decision making. Results show that leader communication (as measured by the motivating language scale) is significantly and positively related to augmented worker decision making. Structural equation modeling results indicate an expected 2.5% improvement in worker decision making for every 10% increase in leader language use. These results can be helpful to researchers and managers because they advance motivating language theory, and are easily understood as an applied communications framework for improving employee decision making.”

Katherine Wertz

Professional issues

Disrupting the past to disrupt the future: An antenarrative of technical communication

Jones, N., Moore, K., & Walton, R. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 211–229. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1224655

“This article presents an antenarrative of the field of technical and professional communication. Part methodology and part practice, an antenarrative allows the work of the field to be reseen, forges new paths forward, and emboldens the field’s objectives to unabashedly embrace social justice and inclusivity as part of its core narrative. The authors present a heuristic that can usefully extend the pursuit of inclusivity in technical and professional communication.”

Rhonda Stanton

Human-centered design and the field of technical communication

Zachry, M., & Spyridakis, J. H. (2016). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(4), 392401. doi: 10.1177/0047281616653497

This article “explore[s] the turn toward human-centered design (HCD) in research and higher education. [Zachry and Spyrdakis] begin with a discussion of how HCD emerged in scholarly work at the edges of our field in places such as design, psychology, art, and engineering. [Then they] consider how an HCD perspective is manifesting itself in academic programs in different institutional contexts. [The authors] discuss how this trend is further illustrated by the transformation of [their] department at the University of Washington, which shifted from being the Department of Technical Communication to becoming the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering.”

Anita Ford

Human-centered design in practice: Roles, definitions, and communication

Putnam, C., Reiner, A., Ryou, E., Caputo, M., Cheng, J., Allen, M., & Singamaneni, R. (2016). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(4), 446470. doi: 10.1177/0047281616653491

“Human-centered design philosophy proposes that end users be at the center of technical system designs. Building on a seminal study by Gould and Lewis, [the authors] present findings from two surveys that explored the practice of building interactive systems from the perspective of information and communication technology (ICT) professionals. [The authors] generated ICT job descriptions based on a lexicon derived from practitioners’ own words. [They] found that while ‘human-centeredness’ has risen among ICT professionals, . . . respondents varied significantly in how they considered the original three Gould and Lewis principles with respect to their job titles and roles. [The authors] . . . argue that tools that support clear communication among roles are critical. ”

Anita Ford

The role and value of technical communicators: Technical communicators and subject matter experts weigh in

Rice-Bailey, T. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 230–243. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1221140

“This qualitative study compares how technical communicators (TCs) and subject matter experts (SMEs) characterize the role and value of the TC. Seven TCs and eight SMEs participated in an investigation of the similarities and differences between the perceptions of these two groups. Key findings are that SMEs perceive of TCs as investigators, educators, and relationship builders; TCs talk about themselves in terms of investigators, interpreters, and audience advocates; and TCs are often uncomfortable discussing their value.”

Rhonda Stanton


Correspondence analysis: A statistical technique ripe for technical and professional communication researchers

Lam, C. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(3), 299–310. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2583279

“Technical communicators use a variety of research methods and collect a variety of data. Of particular interest to technical communicators is categorical data or data that are not traditionally quantitative. For instance, technical communicators often collect and analyze language data from a variety of texts. Analyzing this type of data can be difficult using traditional statistical methods.” Correspondence analysis is a methodology that enables “researchers to explore relationships among categorical variables” statistically. “To conduct correspondence analysis, a researcher must walk through a series of steps including: (1) determining whether correspondence analysis is appropriate, (2) choosing a statistical software package, (3) running the correspondence analysis, and (4) interpreting and applying the results. . . . While correspondence analysis provides many useful insights into categorical data, a researcher must consider several things when deciding to use correspondence analysis. These include the potential to misinterpret and misapply the results of a correspondence analysis.” This article provides “theoretical and practical foundations for understanding and applying correspondence analysis” in research projects.

Lyn Gattis

Science writing

Science communication on YouTube: Factors that affect channel and video popularity

Welbourne, D. J., & Grant, W. J. (2016). Public Understanding of Science, 25(6), 706–718. doi: 10.1177/0963662515572068

“YouTube has become one of the largest websites on the Internet. Among its many genres, both professional and amateur science communicators compete for audience attention. This article provides the first overview of science communication on YouTube and examines content factors that affect the popularity of science communication videos on the site. A content analysis of 390 videos from 39 YouTube channels was conducted. Although professionally generated content is superior in number, user-generated content was significantly more popular. Furthermore, videos that had consistent science communicators were more popular than those without a regular communicator. This study represents an important first step to understand content factors, which increases the channel and video popularity of science communication on YouTube.”

Lyn Gattis


Found things: Genre, narrative, and identification in a networked activist organization

Jones, N. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 298–318. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1228790

“This article examines the inter-relational role of genre and narrative in a social justice organization. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, this test presents a process-centered approach using genre ecology modeling and narrative maps. This approach can help scholars understand how genre and narrative dialectically promote collaboration and coordination while simultaneously promoting the process of consubstantiality and rhetorical identification in networked organizations.”

Rhonda Stanton


Evaluating multilevel user skill expression in a public, unsupervised wiki: A case study

Trice, M. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(3), 261–273. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2592560

“This case study examines how users of varied experience levels interact with an open-access content-management system (CMS) that lacks managed leadership.” Specifically, the study “looked at the initial installation of a local community wiki system. The system is a CMS designed for use by municipal territories to create crowdsourced wikis capable of preserving knowledge that would not traditionally fit in Wikipedia entries. . . . This case study started with a series of interviews to determine how users expected to use the community wiki. After the interviews, 10 users (5 new and 5 experienced) were evaluated for this study, each performing 6 tasks. . . . Users who maintained sufficient interest in the wiki to become experienced wiki users developed a number of core skills even without organizational support, though new users demonstrated a steep skill deficit. However, new users actually demonstrated a greater capacity to highlight incompleteness of information within the wiki than experienced users in one key task.”

Lyn Gattis

Improving agile requirements: The quality user story framework and tool

Lucassen, G., Dalpiaz, F., van der Werf, E. M., & Brinkkemper, S. (2016). Requirements Engineering, 21(3), 383–403. doi: 10.1007/s00766-016-0250-x

“User stories are a widely adopted requirements notation in agile development. Yet, user stories are too often poorly written in practice and exhibit inherent quality defects. Triggered by this observation, [the authors] propose the Quality User Story (QUS) framework, a set of 13 quality criteria that user story writers should strive to conform to. Based on QUS, [they] present the Automatic Quality User Story Artisan (AQUSA) software tool. Relying on natural language processing (NLP) techniques, AQUSA detects quality defects and suggest possible remedies. [The authors] describe the architecture of AQUSA, its implementation, and [they] report on an evaluation that analyzes 1023 user stories obtained from 18 software companies.”

Edward A. Malone


Supporting technical professionals’ metacognitive development in technical communication through contrasting rhetorical problem solving

Karatsolis, A., Ishizaki, S., Lovett, M., Rohrbach, S., & Kaufer, M. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(4), 244–259. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1221141

“This article presents an experimental pedagogical framework for providing technical professionals with practice on writing skills focusing on the development of their metacognitive rhetorical awareness. The article outlines the theoretical foundation that led to the development of the framework, followed by a report of a pilot study involving information technology professionals in a global setting using an online learning environment that was designed based on the framework.”

Rhonda Stanton