64.4, November 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.


Drawing from available means: Assessing the rhetorical dimensions of Facebook practice

Hannah, M., & Lam, C. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(3), 235–257. doi: 10.1177/2329488415572788

“A company’s presence on Facebook plays an important role in engaging its customer base. However, little empirical work has fully examined the nature and impact of corporate Facebook posts on engagement. In this study, [the authors] analyzed 680 Facebook posts collected from a sample of six companies over a period of 12 months. [They] examined variables including post frequency, content type, illocutionary act, linking style, and media. [They] found that entertainment posts were more engaging than operational news and innovation posts. Educational posts were also more engaging than innovation posts. With regard to illocutionary acts, expressives, or posts that express the writer’s emotion, were more engaging than all other illocutionary acts. Additionally, representative posts were more engaging than directive posts. For linking style, [the authors] discovered that posts containing no link were actually more engaging than posts with an external link. [They] also found a significant interaction between content type and linking practice, which indicates that linking style influences the effectiveness of some content types in engaging audiences. Finally, [they] found that companies overwhelmingly relied on the use of text and images in their posts over video and image galleries. [The authors] speculate that content that removes a user from the Facebook ‘universe’ (e.g., a link or a video) actually may demotivate a user to engage with the original content of the post. [They] discuss these results from a rhetorical perspective and provide insight for corporate Facebook practices.”

Katherine Wertz

Inclusive language use in multicultural business organizations: The effect on creativity and performance

Lauring, J., & Klitmøller, A. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(3), 306–324. doi: 10.1177/2329488415572779

“Few studies have dealt with inclusive language use in multicultural organizations. This is unfortunate because it has been hypothesized that such organizations will be more creative and will perform better than mono-cultural organizations if communication issues are dealt with correctly by managers. In this study, [the authors] test the general hypothesis that inclusive language use by managers and employees in formal and informal situations will increase the creativity and performance in multicultural organizations. By use of responses from 676 individuals employed in privately owned multicultural companies, [the authors] found that management common language communication was strongly associated with performance but not with creativity. Openness to language diversity among employees, however, had strong relations with both creativity and performance. This indicates that management communication may provide information and a shared identity that can increase the performance of an organization. Yet in order to increase creativity, there is a need to also facilitate inclusive group processes. The findings provide new insights into the theoretical idea that diversity leads to creativity and performance if communication is managed correctly.”

Katherine Wertz

Influence of organizational culture on organizational effectiveness: The mediating role of organizational communication

Gochhayat, J., Giri, V. N., & Suar, D. (2017). Global Business Review, 18(3), 691–702. doi: 10.1177/0972150917692185

“Cultures have been found to predict the organizational effectiveness (OE). This article explores how a strong or weak organizational culture (OCL), irrespective of its taxonomy, affects OE in Indian technical education. It also examines the mediating role of organizational communication (OCM). Data were collected from 167 heads of engineering and management schools on OCL and OE and 334 of their subordinates on OCM through a questionnaire survey. Results indicate that organizations with a strong and deep-rooted culture perform more effectively than organizations with a weak culture. The effect of OCL passes to institutional effectiveness through OCM. Hence, higher educational institutions need to focus on strengthening OCL and OCM in order to improve their effectiveness.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Scholars and poor communicators? Old Masters exhibitions as a scientific practice and communication activity for art museum curators

Ughetto, P. (2017). Current Sociology, 65(3), 376–394. doi: 10.1177/0011392115617226

“Museum curators are rarely the subject of analysis as scientists. By contrast, there is a whole literature on their propensity to give priority to the scientific knowledge of collections over the effort to communicate with different audiences and make museums accessible. This article examines the Late Raphael exhibition at the Louvre (Paris) and draws on the exhibition texts (catalogues, artwork labels, wall texts) to explore the practical activity and preoccupations of the museum curators concerned: the exhibition is simultaneously material for the scientific demonstration of a thesis—part of a debate on the value of the artist’s late works—and for communication aimed at both fellow specialists and the wider public. Communication is not distinct from scientific research and handled with less respect. The two are directly interwoven and communication represents a practical activity with its own difficulties.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Social media adoption in business-to-business: IT and industrial companies compared

Veldeman, C., Van Praet, E., & Mechant, P. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(3), 283–305. doi: 10.1177/2329488415572785

“This article investigates Belgian business-to-business (B2B) companies’ perceptions of and attitudes toward social media, matching the findings with existing U.S., U.K., and Dutch research. Using survey data from a nonrepresentative judgment sample of 92 Belgian B2B companies, [the authors] show that 85.9% of Belgian B2B companies that participated in [this] research use social media to ensure their influence on target groups. The survey also reveals that 40.8% of IT companies implement a social media strategy against only 26.7% of industrial B2B companies. Relying on the technology acceptance model, [the authors] argue that IT companies are more inclined to adopt social media because they evaluate social media’s usefulness higher than industrial enterprises. Qualitative follow-up research (in-depth interviews with 11 B2B enterprises) further explains the observed differences and similarities between both sectors, analyzing perceived benefits and risks, social media knowledge, and strategies. [The authors] conclude the article by listing various suggested actions that can help B2B companies effectively leverage social media.”

Katherine Wertz


A framework for visual communication at Nature

Krause, K. (2017). Public Understanding of Science, 26(1), 15–24. doi: 10.1177/0963662516640966

“The scientific journal Nature, published weekly since 1869, serves as an excellent case study in visual communication. While journals are becoming increasingly specialist, Nature remains firmly multidisciplinary; and unlike many scientific journals, it contains original journalism, opinion pieces, and expert analysis in addition to peer-reviewed research papers. This variety of content types—covering an extensive range of scientific disciplines—translates into a wide and varied audience, and the need to employ an equally wide variety of communication styles. For example, a research paper may employ technical language to communicate to a highly specialized audience in that field, whereas a news story on the same subject will explain the science to an educated lay audience, often adding a wider context and stripping out acronyms. Each type of piece will use a communication approach tailored for its intended audience. This is true for visual content as well: the intended audience of a scientific figure, illustration or data visualization will determine the design approach to that visual. At Nature, given the high volume of content plus high quality standards, this process is applied in a fairly systematic way, using a framework to guide creative decision-making. That framework is described here, along with a discussion of best practices for the design of research figures and graphics by context.”

Lyn Gattis

Role of design education in fostering values of social responsibility in designers

Bothra, S. (2017). Connexions: International Professional Communication Journal, 5(1), 11–44. doi: 10.21310/cnx.5.1.17.bot

“Professional communication and industrial design have become a forceful, persuasive and omnipresent reality in shaping, serving and significantly changing the society and the environment at local as well as global levels. A professional designer is a significant contributor in creating the ‘world by design’, and shares the social responsibility of the consequences of the acts of design, with blurring of traditional and rigid boundaries of specialization. This research article examines ‘what is’ the role of the formal design education programs in fostering values of social responsibility in their students, the future professionals. The primary field study and research for this article was undertaken in India as a part of a doctoral research. Nevertheless, it brings forth insights valuable for multiple locations and parallel contexts. The concluding part of the article takes a propositional and conceptual route to derive ‘what ought to be’—as models for future action.”

Lyn Gattis


Immersion, reflection, failure: Teaching graduate students to teach writing online

Grover, S. D., Cook, K. C., Harris, H. S., & DePew, K. E. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 242–255. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339524

“A common challenge facing those who prepare graduate students to teach writing online is the need to help those students connect online writing instruction (OWI) theory with their classroom practice. The authors present how graduate students are prepared to teach writing online at three universities and then synthesize those approaches to highlight three principles that can guide effective OWI preparation for graduate students in any program: immersion, reflection, and failure.”

Rhonda Stanton

Online teaching and learning in technical communication: Continuing the conversation [special issue]

Hewitt, B. L., & Bourelle, T. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 217202. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339531

“The purpose of this special issue of TCQ is to help TPC practitioners, teachers, and researchers to understand training and development principles specifically geared toward the delivery and conduct of online educational programs; issues of communication among administrators, online trainers, and online trainees; technologies and organizational dynamics as related to preparing for online education at various levels; and research and materials that educators have found successful when teaching students of technical communication. This issue offers new insights into the training and teaching of online TPC classes, including strategies that have worked for instructors, failed strategies or approaches, challenges encountered, and lessons learned. This special issue also offers administrators scholarship that can guide them in their online training efforts, as well as developing, assessing, and maintaining a successful online program. Finally, it addresses some areas of growth for technical communicators in online educational venues. Some of the articles offer practical, adaptable guidance for instructors where training is not available, and all provide administrators and instructors with both theoretical and practical frameworks from which to structure individual online classes or entire online technical communication programs.”

Rhonda Stanton

Training online technical communication educators to teach with social media: Best practices and professional recommendations

Vie, S. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 344–359. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339487

“The author reports on social media research in technical and professional communication (TPC) training through a national survey of 30 professional and technical communication programs asking about their use of social media in technical communication. This research forms the basis of recommendations for training online TPC faculty to teach with social media. The author offers recommendations throughout for those who train online TPC faculty as well as for the teachers themselves.”

Rhonda Stanton

Training technical and professional communication educators for online internship courses

Bay, J. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 329–343. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339526

“This article explores how to train educators to teach online internship courses. The article introduces an online internship course focused on workplace communication available to students across the university. Approaches to training educators to teach this course include requiring educators to immerse themselves in experiential learning situations, leveraging innovative uses of contemporary technologies for communication, and reflecting on online teaching processes.”

Rhonda Stanton

Virtual partnerships: Engaging students in e-service learning using computer-mediated communication

Harris, U. S. (2017). Asia Pacific Media Educator, 27(1), 103–117. doi: 10.1177/1326365X17701792

“Computer-mediated communication has important implications for future classroom learning which is no longer spatially bound or centred around text books. It has the ability to incorporate real-life learning whereby students can make important contributions towards solving global problems without having to leave the campus. This study looked at the impact of virtual communication processes and online tools on student and partner engagement in an on-campus undergraduate unit which enables Australian students to create communication campaigns for a non-government organization in India. The study found that the communication exchanges provided students with opportunities for intercultural dialogue, both in real and virtual spaces, and how to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and media within a social justice framework within a transnational working environment. Internet technologies have become part of the daily communication pattern of a new generation of students, who see it as their natural environment in which to learn, play and work. It is thus important to expand students’ use of the global digital network from superficial social interactions towards activities which enable them to become active and informed global citizens.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Writing the trenches: What students of technical writing and literature can learn together

Baake, K., & Shelton, J. (2017). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(3), 280–299. doi: 10.1177/0047281616641922

“[The authors] argue for a course in which students analyze writing about a common topic . . . from multiple genres (e.g., poetry and technical manuals). [They] address the divide between instruction in pragmatic and literary writing and calls to bridge that gap. Students working in disparate areas of English learn the strengths and the limitations of their fields, and how text represents and promotes different interpretations of reality. Such written representations do not neatly line up along a utilitarian-literary binary but are more closely interwoven in the presence of a profound subject such as war.”

Anita Ford


Is quantitative research ethical? Tools for ethically practicing, evaluating, and using quantitative research

Zyphur, M. J., & Pierides, D. C. (2017). Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 1–16. doi: 10.1007/s10551-017-3549-8

“This editorial offers new ways to ethically practice, evaluate, and use quantitative research (QR). [The authors’] central claim is that ready-made formulas for QR, including ‘best practices’ and common notions of ‘validity’ or ‘objectivity,’ are often divorced from the ethical and practical implications of doing, evaluating, and using QR for specific purposes. To focus on these implications, [the authors] critique common theoretical foundations for QR and then recommend approaches to QR that are ‘built for purpose,’ by which [they] mean designed to ethically address specific problems or situations on terms that are contextually relevant. For this, [the authors] propose a new tool for evaluating the quality of QR, which [they] call ‘relational validity.’ Studies, including their methods and results, are relationally valid when they ethically connect researchers’ purposes with the way that QR is oriented and the ways that it is done—including the concepts and units of analysis invoked, as well as what its ‘methods’ imply more generally. This new way of doing QR can provide the liberty required to address serious worldly problems on terms that are both practical and ethically informed in relation to the problems themselves rather than the confines of existing QR logics and practices.”

Lyn Gattis

Social media policies: Implications for contemporary notions of corporate social responsibility

Stohl, C., Etter, M., Banghart, S., & Woo, D. (2017). Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 142–143. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2743-9

“Three global developments situate the context of this investigation: the increasing use of social media by organizations and their employees, the burgeoning presence of social media policies, and the heightened focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). In this study the intersection of these trends is examined through a content analysis of 112 publicly available social media policies from the largest corporations in the world. The extent to which social media policies facilitate and/or constrain the communicative sensibilities and values associated with contemporary notions of CSR is considered. Overall, findings indicate that a large majority of policies, regardless of sector or national headquarters, increasingly inhibit communicative tenets of contemporary CSR (i.e., free speech, collective information sharing, and stakeholder engagement/dialogue) and thereby diminish employee negotiation and participation in the social responsibilities of corporations. Moreover, policies generally enact organizational communication practices that are contrary to international CSR guidelines (e.g., the UN Global Compact and other international agreements). Findings suggest that social media policies represent a relatively unrecognized development in the institutionalization of CSR communicative norms and practices that call into question the promising affordances of social media for the inclusion of various voices in the public negotiation of what constitutes corporate social responsibility.”

Lyn Gattis

Health communication

Improving the quality of healthcare data through information design

Noël, G., Joy, J., & Dyck, C. (2017). Information Design Journal, 23(1), 104–122. doi: 10.1075/idj.23.1.11noe

“Improving the quality of patient care, generally referred to as Quality Improvement (QI), is a constant mission of healthcare. Although QI initiatives take many forms, these typically involve collecting data to measure whether changes to procedures have been made as planned, and whether those changes have achieved the expected outcomes. In principle, such data are used to measure the success of a QI initiative and make further changes if needed. In practice, however, many QI data reports provide only limited insight into changes that could improve patient care. Redesigning standard approaches to QI data can help close the gap between current norms and the potential of QI data to improve patient care. This paper describes [the authors’] study of QI data needs among healthcare providers and managers at Vancouver Coastal Health, a regional health system in Canada. [They] present an overview of challenges faced by healthcare providers around QI data collection and visualization, and illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of different visualizations. At present, user-centred and evidence-based design is practically unknown in healthcare QI, and thus offers an important new contribution.”

Lyn Gattis

Information management

Can we all speak the same language . . . please?

Henselmann, M. A. (2016). Best Practices, 18(6), 146–148. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

This article discusses the advantages of managing a company’s terminology to support brand image and make “products and documentation more consistent, easier to understand and translate, and easier to adapt to global markets.” The author recommends developing a type of glossary or Terminology Database (Termbase) that “includes key words or small phrases that are specific to a product, market, or organization.” For each source term, the Termbase might include a short definition, common translations of the term, and examples of context for the term. The Termbase can then used by authors, marketers, trainers, and translators “to ensure clarity and consistency across all . . . products and deliverables” and to make translation more productive and cost-effective.

Lyn Gattis


Visualizers versus verbalizers

Darweesh, L., & Al Sulaim, R. (2017). International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, 13(2), 15–24. doi: 10.18848/1832-3669/CGP/v13i02/15-24

“Animation safety videos have begun to play a substantial role in communicating safety procedures on in-flight air travel. This paper demonstrates that the choice between the printed experience of traditional airline safety manuals vs. the visual animation experience of safety videos rely on consumers’ cognitive preferences. The research methodology is contingent with an open-ended and close-ended study covering a sample of forty well-traveled participants categorized under two age groups (19 to 39 and 40 to 70). Each group was benchmarked based on two modes of cognitive behaviors: Visualizers and Verbalizers. The participants were asked to delineate their cognitive preferences based on three categories, i.e., meaningful, engaging, and visual appeal of in-flight safety material. The preliminary findings established that 95 percent of the participants of nineteen to thirty-nine years’ age group strongly agreed that in-flight safety animation videos were more meaningful than traditional printed manuals, whereas 35 percent of the fifty to seventy age group disagreed that in-flight safety animation videos were more meaningful than print manuals. Surprisingly, based on the overall percentage of the categorical preferences, the empirical data found that both age groups were visualizers more than verbalizers were. These findings provide primary data under the visual communication field, delineating the relationship between age and cognition preferences when it comes to animation safety videos.”

Lyn Gattis

Intercultural issues

Developing culturally and linguistically diverse online technical communication programs: Emerging frameworks at University of Texas at El Paso

Gonzales, L., & Baca, I. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 273–286. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339488

“This article addresses emerging calls for online education and cross-cultural technical communication training, specifically by outlining and reporting on the development and sustainability of two online programs: the graduate online technical and professional writing certificate and the emerging undergraduate bilingual professional writing certificate at the University of Texas at El Paso. Data presented suggest cultural and linguistic diversity should be embedded and streamlined across all aspects of online technical communication programs.”

Rhonda Stanton

Of friction points and infrastructures: Rethinking the dynamics of offering online education in technical communication in global contexts

St.Amant, K. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 223–241. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339522

“International interest in technical communication education is growing as more individuals gain online access worldwide. This factor means technical communication educators might find themselves developing online classes for students located in other nations. Doing so requires an understanding of aspects affecting international interactions in such educational contexts. This article examines central factors—or friction points—that technical communication instructors must understand and address to offer effective online educational experiences to globally distributed students.”

Rhonda Stanton


A corpus study of bank financial analyst reports: Semantic fields and metaphors

Cheng, W., & Ho, J. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(3), 258–282. doi: 10.1177/2329488415572790

“This corpus-based study compares financial analyst reports, collected during the Eurozone financial crisis in 2011, of the BNP Paribas and Bank of China (Hong Kong), which differ in corporate history and backgrounds. The study aims to describe, first, salient semantic and pragmatic meanings characteristic of salient topics in the financial analyst reports of the banks and, second, the patterns of use and function of metaphors specific to key semantic fields of each corpus to shed light on how the genre was exploited by respective banks to achieve organizational, professional, institutional, and sociocultural goals. Metaphors in each corpus were identified and meanings interpreted in the co-text of concordances, following the steps detailed in the metaphorical identification procedure (MIP). The website METALUDE (Metaphor at Lingnan University, Department of English; http://www.ln.edu.hk/lle/cwd/project01/web/introduction.html) was used as a source of reference. Analysis of key semantic fields shows that the two sets of reports were composed of different topics. Concordance analysis of frequent lexical words in the key semantic fields further reveals semantic and pragmatic meanings. Major findings include BNP Paribas using more empirical research and survey findings in their financial analyst reports to promote their professional image and sense of responsibility to stakeholders, and frequent use of human traits metaphors, depicting different aspects of health, motion, mobility, and injury, revealing the way and extent to which financial analysts describe different business and financial market performance and activities.”

Katherine Wertz


Faster, better, cheaper—Partnering with suppliers for success

Figueira, S. (2017). Best Practices, 19(2), 30–34. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

For an organization that has decided to contract with “a supplier to provide writers at lower cost” in addition to its in-house writing staff, this article provides useful advice for making the most of the supplier partnership. The author recommends looking for a supplier that can “scale resources up or down” as needed, offers specialist skills that are a good match for the company, and has “a similar or compatible business culture and values.” Once the company has selected a supplier, a successful, long-term partnership depends on cost-effective quality for the company, a sustainable business model for the supplier, and job satisfaction for the writers. Sharing information and risk between the in-house and supplier teams also builds strong relationships. For an expanding company, an effective supplier partnership enables the organization to staff “new global sites using the supplier’s local hiring and cultural expertise, without having to hire a team of managers across the globe or increase management overhead.”

Lyn Gattis

Professional issues

Balancing institutional demands with effective practice: A lesson in curricular and professional development

Rodrigo, R., & Ramirez, C. D. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 314–328. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339529

“Online writing courses have developed in importance to meet student learning and institutional expectations; over time, a controversy about training online instructors and building sustainable programs has emerged. This article relates training demands within the University of Arizona’s Writing Program and development of an online professional and technical writing certificate. The article proposes training instructors with master courses and building a sustained program through a participatory design to create a professional and integrated environment.”

Rhonda Stanton

Contingent faculty, online writing instruction, and professional development in technical and professional communication

Meloncon, L. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 256–272. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339489

“Technical and professional communication (TPC) programs rely on contingent faculty to achieve their curricular mission. However, contingent faculty lack professional development opportunities. In this article, the author reports survey results (N = ٩١) and three case studies that provide information on contingent faculty and their preparation for online teaching and then provides a three-step approach for TPC program administrators and faculty to follow so that programs can create sustainable professional development opportunities for contingent faculty to teach online.”

Rhonda Stanton

The Golden Age of technical communication

Kimball, M. (2017). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(3), 330–358. doi: 10.1177/0047281616641927

“This article uses a historical perspective to describe the development of the profession of technical communication through three ages: Brass, Beige, and Glass. [The author] compare[s] this development to the growth of the academic discipline and both to the explosion of noninstitutional technical communication—the growing body of tactical technical communication that happens outside of organizations and institutions. [The author then] describe[s] today as the Golden Age of technical communication, [and] conclude[s] that we should broaden the scope of technical communication and spread it as a set of skills valuable for everyone to learn.”

Anita Ford


Digitally mapping the Buddhist holy land: Intercultural communication, religious history, and networked rhetoric

Maher, D. F., & Getto, G. (2016). Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization, 9(1), 78–99. [doi: none]

“Intercultural communication presents an array of well-known and much-discussed challenges to scholars and practitioners of Technical and Professional Communication and related disciplines. When addressing the religious culture, there is the added dimension of deeply-engrained worldviews. Likewise, the transmission of academic research in disciplines—such as religious studies, technical and professional communication, and digital humanities—depends upon communications across diverse cultural boundaries. In the wake of such challenges, we present an exploratory methodology behind a new research and instructional program that utilizes versatile digital tools and best practices from religious studies, digital humanities, and technical and professional communication.”

Lyn Gattis


Revising the online classroom: Usability testing for training online technical communication instructors

Bartolotta, J., Bourelle, T., & Newmark, J. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 287–299. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339495

“This article reports on an effort by the authors to use usability testing as a component of online teacher training for their multimajor technical communication course. The article further explains the ways in which program administrators at other institutions can create their own usability testing protocols for formative online teacher training in course design and in principles of user-centered design.”

Rhonda Stanton

Technical communication coaching: A strategy for instilling reader usability assurance in online course material development

Warner, R. Z., & Hewitt, B. L. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 300–313. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2017.1339493

“Online course material development requires much writing, often catching faculty by surprise because of either the sheer volume or the specialized role and function of writing in an online only and multimodal environment. Technical and professional communication (TPC) faculty are uniquely suited to coach faculty in producing readable writing for online courses. This article explores the professional development strategies and coaching skills necessary for TPC instructors and/or practitioners to serve in this role in online course development training.”

Rhonda Stanton