66.3, August 2019

Recent & Relevant

By Lyn Gattis

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.


Use and affordances of ICTs in interorganizational collaboration: An exploratory study of ICTs in nonprofit partnerships

Fu, J. S., Cooper, K. R., & Shumate, M. (2019). Management Communication Quarterly, 33(2), 219–237. doi: 10.1177/0893318918824041

This study’s findings may be helpful to those who teach students more productive workplace communication or to those who want to improve small organizations’ collaborative communication. “Interorganizational collaboration relies on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). However, previous ICT research often takes place within a single organization, lacking insight into how ICTs sustain interorganizational structures. This study examined both the product categories and functional uses of ICTs for interorganizational collaboration, drawing from surveys among a random sample of 181 human services nonprofit organizations in the United States. Results showed that email, teleconference, and shared repositories (e.g., Dropbox) were most popular product types. Content analysis revealed that ICTs were used for coordination, information sharing, relational communication, and client management and ICT utilities varied based on collaboration types. Analyses also indicated that collaboration type, as opposed to organizational attributes (e.g., organizational capacity, resources, size), was related to the frequency of ICT use in nonprofit collaboration. Theoretical contributions to the study of ICTs, interorganizational collaboration, and management communication are discussed.”

Diana Fox Bentele


Delivering feedback: Supervisors’ source credibility and communication competence

Kingsley Westerman, C., Reno, K., & Heuett, K. (2018). International Journal of Business Communication, 55(4), 526–546. doi: 10.1177/2329488415613338

“This study investigated how perceptions of supervisor communication competence and source credibility were affected by the valence and synchronicity of a feedback message and the channel used to deliver the feedback message. Results indicated that those receiving feedback preferred phone calls rather than text messages as a channel for managers to deliver feedback. Also, supervisors delivering positive feedback were identified as more positive in general than those delivering negative feedback. Further results and implications are discussed.”

Katherine Wertz

Distant relations: The affordances of email in interorganizational conflict

Bülow, A., Lee, J., & Panteli, N. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 393–413. doi: 10.1177/2329488416633847

“This article explores the role of email in the ambiguous circumstances of an established international partnership that is developing into competition. Using the naturally occurring interaction of a longitudinal ethnographic study, [the authors] study the ensuing task and relationship conflicts through the communication medium. Results show that the conflict is facilitated by email, not as an unfortunate side-effect but as a strategic choice of distance, partly for passive protection but also for active control of the interaction. [The authors] use the results to chart the multiple situated identities of the communicators that are made salient in their virtual interaction. The double aspect of social and organizational contexts is shown to have an effect on different issues, such as organizational authority at the home organization, the buyer-supplier relationship, nonnative language use, and norms of communication style in the interaction.”

Katherine Wertz

Just paying attention: Communication for organizational attention

Gómez, L. (2018). International Journal of Business Communication, 55(4), 466–482. doi: 10.1177/2329488415600862

“The main premises in this article are that organizational attention is inherently communicative, and can be nurtured through communication interventions. Two communication practices that reflect organizational attention—information allocation and dialogue—can be nurtured through organizational structures and interventions. Increasing opportunities for dialogue across organizational functions is critical to improve collective attention. Prior research and empirical data are presented to assert that a long-term orientation is also imperative to develop attention through communication practices such as information allocation and dialogue.”

Katherine Wertz

Multicommunicator aspirational stress, suggestions for teaching and research, and other insights after 10 years of multicommunication research

Reinsch, N. L., & Turner, J. W. (2019). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 33(2), 141–171. doi: 10.1177/1050651918816356

“This study offers a comprehensive review of data-based research on the practice of multicommunicating, that is, the behavior of participating in multiple, overlapping conversations. Initial research has occurred in various academic disciplines and described the phenomenon with a variety of terms. The authors begin by defining multicommunication and then identifying and comparing these various other terms. Next, they summarize past research, offer revised versions of five propositions concerning multicommunicating, and identify a new concept, multicommunicator aspirational stress. Finally, they offer suggestions for both pedagogy and future research on multicommunicating.”

Sean C. Herring


Lower case in the flatlands: New Typography and orthographic reform in a Danish printing calendar

Klevgaard, T. (2019). Visible Language, 53(1), 111–131. [doi: none]

The article recounts European controversies almost a century old, yet the controversy is meaningful today for those who are interested in any barriers to education that disadvantaged students face. It is an interesting read for those who wish to debate standardized font choices. “The orthographic reform program known as kleinschreibung, or writing small, was an integral part of the New Typography of the 1920s and 30s. Commonly associated with institutions like the Bauhaus, or groups like the ring ‘neue werbegestalter’ (circle ‘new advertising designers’), New Typography was also taken up in the work of numerous printers and compositors across Germany and beyond. In Denmark, where common nouns were capitalized then as they still are in German, one proponent of New Typography amongst printers was Typografernes fagtekniske Samvirke (The Compositors’ trade-technical Cooperative). In 1934 this educational society published an annual titled Typografisk årbog 1935 (Typographic yearbook 1935) where it set out how it had chosen to engage with New Typography and kleinschreibung by adapting them to Danish circumstances. This article takes Typografisk årbog 1935 as the starting point for an investigation of the similarities and differences between the German and Danish contexts by tracing their histories of orthographic reform and by linking these to New Typography as practiced in the two countries.”

Diana Fox Bentele


More than a feeling: Applying a data-driven framework in the technical and professional communication team project

Lam, C. (2018). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 61(4), 409–427. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2018.2870683

“[S]tudent group projects come with some unique challenges, such as unequal distribution of work, unequal levels of learning, and perceptions of fairness.…This teaching case describes the implementation and outcomes of a data-driven framework for decision making called collect, analyze, triangulate, and act (CATA) that the author developed. After they learned about the CATA framework, the students completed a series of data-driven exercises during the team formation, team functioning, and team evaluation stages of the team project. Perceptions of CATA’s effectiveness were collected after the project ended.…Survey results indicated that students found the CATA framework helpful in many team contexts. Students expressed particularly strong opinions about how CATA aided in the fairness and accuracy of peer evaluations, was helpful for self-reflection, and was useful for making informed arguments to convince team members of a decision” although its capacity for managing conflict was limited. “Students realized many benefits from the CATA framework, and some team leaders even felt empowered in certain instances by appealing to data. However, instructors should still consider scaffolding data literacy and teamwork skills for students to be fully prepared for successful teamwork.”

Lyn Gattis

Not so different? Student and professional perceptions of mobile phone etiquette in meetings

Towner, E. B., Everett, H. L., & Klemz, B. R. (2019). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly. [OnlineFirst] doi: 10.1177/2329490619836452

“Previous studies have noted the difficulties students have in understanding and adapting to professional workforce policies, especially mobile device usage and e-etiquette. This study focuses on determining how closely students and working professionals align in their perceptions of appropriate mobile phone usage during business meetings. After comparing the 476 student responses from [this study’s] survey with a previous study, [the authors] found that student and professional perceptions aligned frequently; however, gender, age, and year in school influence student perceptions. The article concludes with suggestions for teaching and future research.”

Diana Fox Bentele


Seeking formula for misinformation treatment in public health crises: The effects of corrective information type and source

van der Meer, T. G. L. A., & Jin, Y. (2019). Health Communication (online). doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1573295

“An increasing lack of information truthfulness has become a fundamental challenge to communications. Insights into how to debunk this type of misinformation can especially be crucial for public health crises. To identify corrective information strategies that increase awareness and trigger actions during infectious disease outbreaks, an online experiment (N = 700) was conducted, using a U.S. sample. After initial misinformation exposure, participants’ exposure to corrective information type (simple rebuttal vs. factual elaboration) and source (government health agency vs. news media vs. social peer) was varied, including a control group without corrective information. Results show that, if corrective information is present rather than absent, incorrect beliefs based on misinformation are debunked and the exposure to factual elaboration, compared to simple rebuttal, stimulates intentions to take protective actions. Moreover, government agency and news media sources are found to be more successful in improving belief accuracy compared to social peers. The observed mediating role of crisis emotions reveals the mechanism underlying the effects of corrective information. The findings contribute to misinformation research by providing a formula for correcting the increasing spread of misinformation in times of crisis.”

Walter Orr

Trust-building in a patient forum: The interplay of professional and personal expertise

Bakke, A. (2019). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 49(2), 156–182. doi: 10.1177/0047281618776222

“Online discussion forums for patients offer the benefits of community but the risks of misinformation. A physician-moderated forum may help to mitigate this tension. How do both the professional expertise of a physician moderator and the personal, experiential expertise of patients contribute to trust in a forum? A rhetorical analysis of a year of postings in an online Parkinson’s community reveals that both forms of expertise were trusted, demonstrating the possibility for them to complement each other. This study illustrates the broader ways trust is established in patient communities and offers implications for technical communicators as forum designers or moderators.”

Anita Ford

Health communication

The cognitive authority of user-generated health information in an online forum for girls and young women

Hirvonen, N., Tirroniemi, A., & Kortelainen, T. (2019). Journal of Documentation, 75(1), 78–98. doi: 10.1108/JD-05-2018-0083

This paper examines a Finnish online discussion forum as a “potentially authoritative health information source” for girls and young women. The concept of cognitive authority is used as a starting point for understanding information evaluation in this context. The focus is placed on the types of information users seek for from this forum, the ways they assess the credibility of information obtained, and their views on the impact of this information.…The forum was found to offer girls and young women the possibility to receive health information from peers. It was viewed as an appropriate source for experiential rather than factual health information and used to find information on sexuality, bodily functions and diets, for example. Author-related cues, argumentation and tone, veracity and verification were recognized as means to evaluate information credibility.…The findings cannot be generalized beyond this online forum, to Finnish girls or young women, or even the users of the online forum. However, they provide insights into the ways young people evaluate user-generated information in a particular online setting and domain of knowledge and as such contribute to research on cognitive authority, credibility evaluation and information literacy.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

In the service of good writing: In a relationship?

Thomas, L. E. (2019). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 34(1), 38–39. [doi: none]

In this article, the author urges writers and communicators to think carefully about using words that imply relationships when writing about those participating in the medical and healthcare industries. The term “patient” implies a direct clinical relationship, while “client” can refer to someone who is more generally seeking professional advice or services, such as social services. Patients who engage in research or clinical trials can also be referred to as “subjects,” “participants,” or “volunteers.” Subjects act as a more passive data source for research, participants actively cooperate with study protocols, and volunteers seek out research opportunities. Those who utilize health services can also be consumers or customers. In pediatrics, “caregivers” is a more inclusive term than “mothers” or “parents.” Within healthcare, people can take on multiple, specific, and multidimensional roles depending on the context. Communicators must strive for accuracy when describing these roles.

Walter Orr

Investigating the association between internet health information use and patient willingness to communicate with health care providers

Baker, S. C., & Watson, B. M. (2019). Health Communication (online). doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1584778

“Communication between health professionals and patients is an intergroup phenomenon where the health professional has the most power and status. Over the past few decades, there has been a steady increase in the availability to patients of information about healthcare and specific diseases on the Internet. In this paper, [the authors] ask whether the use of Internet health information assists patients to manage their consultations with health professionals better and whether it alters the intergroup dynamic by providing a more equal status for patients. In this study 370 participants from Australia and Canada completed a survey that included a ‘willingness to communicate with health professionals’ scale. They also commented on their use and trust of Internet health information. Thematic analysis suggests that patients’ use of Internet health information serves as a broker between patients and their health provider in health consultations. [The authors] discuss the implications of these findings for health practitioners as they address how easier Internet access influences patient interactions with health professionals.”

Walter Orr

Preparing for the future of medical writing in biopharma

Affleck, J., Kryder, C. L., Speigel, K., & Winter-Vann, A. (2019). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 34(1), 44–46. [doi: none]

At the annual American Medical Writers Association meeting, executives of medical writing departments convened to discuss current challenges and workplace trends affecting medical writers. Automation and remote work/outsourcing emerged as current trends. Current challenges included recruitment and retention in addition to the development of soft skills and emotional intelligence. These trends and challenges must be creatively addressed in the near future by managerial staff and organizations employing medical writing teams.

Walter Orr

Reducing health-related stigma through narrative messages

Heley, K., Kennedy-Hendricks, A., Niederdeppe, J., & Barry, C. L. (2019). Health Communication (online). doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1598614

“Public stigma characterizes three leading health issues: prescription opioid addiction, obesity, and cigarette smoking. Attributions of individual responsibility are often embedded in negative public attitudes around these issues and can be important to stigma’s development and reduction. Research suggests that narrative messages may hold promise for influencing attributions and stigma in these health contexts. Using a national sample of American adults from an online panel (N = 5,007), [the authors] conducted a survey-embedded randomized experiment, assigning participants to read one of six messages about one of three health issues. All participants read a statement detailing the magnitude of their assigned health problem, after which some respondents received a short inoculation message (serving as a comparison group) or a narrative message emphasizing external factors while acknowledging personal responsibility for the issue. Some participants also read a counter message emphasizing personal responsibility for the health issue to replicate competitive messaging environments surrounding these issues. Relative to those who received only the magnitude of problem message (comparison group 1) or the magnitude of problem and inoculation messages (comparison group 2), the narrative message reduced prescription opioid addiction stigma and increased attributions of responsibility to groups beyond the individual. Narrative effects were mixed for obesity, had no effect on attributions or stigma around cigarette smoking, and were generally consistent whether or not respondents received a counter message. Narrative messages may be a promising approach for shifting responsibility attributions and reducing public stigma around prescription opioid addiction, and may have some relevance for obesity stigma-reduction efforts.”

Walter Orr

Restorative narratives for health promotion

Fitzgerald, K., Paravati, E., Green, M. C., Moore, M. M., & Qian, J. L. (2019). Health Communication (online). doi: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1563032

“Stories may provide a useful way of communicating about health and promoting engagement for health promotion campaigns. In this study, [the authors] examined the effectiveness of a particular type of narrative, restorative narratives (stories that highlight hope and resilience), relative to negative narratives (stories that focus on suffering or challenges). [The authors] also tested the effect of labeling the story as fact or fiction. The results suggested that restorative narratives may foster greater prosocial behavior than negative narratives and effectiveness does not differ depending on whether a story is labeled as ‘factual’ or ‘fictional.’ [The authors’] findings offer encouraging implications for future promotional efforts by health organizations.”

Walter Orr

Information management

Thriving in an environment of change

Bhatia, N. (2019). Best Practices, 21(1), 6–10. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

This article describes one software company’s shift from “monolithic codebases into smaller, independent modules called services (or microservices), which are made available to customers via the cloud” and the accompanying changes in the company’s documentation sets. To respond effectively to the now-frequent product updates, the company’s rapid growth, and customers’ expectations for timely, context-specific answers to questions, the company “had to change the authoring and publishing infrastructure, [the] toolset, processes, and deliverables—almost everything associated with the content development lifecycle.” Along with describing each step of the change process, from getting stakeholder buy-in to vendor selection to execution, the author includes practical suggestions for organizations considering a similar shift in their management and delivery of content.

Lyn Gattis

Intercultural issues

Cultural dialectics in international teamwork dynamics

Levitt, S. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 326–348. doi: 10.1177/2329488416629094

“Some people see multinational collaboration as a problem, while others see it as an opportunity. Intercultural teamwork involves a dynamic push-pull tension between diversity and unity which places its study solidly within a dialectic perspective. In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 individuals who held management or supervisory positions, worked on multinational teams, and spent time working abroad. Their companies represent a broad range of industries and collectively these individuals worked on teams in several dozen countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The results revealed a variety of cultural paradoxes and dialectics, complexities, and differences which affect many aspects of collaborative work. The importance of cultural identity and relationship recur throughout participant narratives. Dialectics include self-other validation, autonomy-connection, national-organizational culture, work-life, ambiguity-certainty, efficiency-redundancy, and direct-indirect communication styles. Intersections among dialectics are also identified.”

Katherine Wertz

Judging expertise through communication styles in intercultural collaboration

Yuan, Y. C., Liao, W., & Bazarova, N. N. (2019). Management Communication Quarterly, 33(2), 238–271. doi: 10.1177/0893318918824674

This article holds specific information for improving intercultural communication in the workplace, especially between Asian and non-Asian individuals. “Recent research on expertise management calls for more attention to the role of communication in expertise recognition. Cultural differences in communication styles can complicate communication of expertise and consequently make expertise recognition more difficult in mixed-culture groups than in same-culture groups. This article reports results from a two-phase study (348 Chinese and non-Asian U.S. citizen [NAUSC] students in the first phase, and 24 four-person groups that consist of both NAUSC and Chinese students in the second phase) on the role of communication styles in intercultural collaboration. The results suggest that for both Chinese and NAUSC students, conversational control, tenseness, task-oriented communication, and confidence are important cues influencing expertise judgment, but perceived expertise and actual expertise may be unrelated to each other.”

Diana Fox Bentele


National cultures on European corporate homepages in English: A linguistic analysis

Cucchi, C. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(2), 198–232. doi: 10.1177/2329488415604456

“The aim of the study is to discover linguistic features that may be related to national differences on European corporate websites where English is used as a lingua franca. The methodology used is qualitative and corporate homepages are taken as units of analysis. European cheese companies are chosen due to the links between food and national identity and to the importance of the cheese sector in Europe. Four European countries—Austria, Denmark, Poland, and Portugal—are selected in order to represent different national cultures within three different geographic areas, namely Northern, Central, and Southern Europe. Findings reveal, first, significant differences in the kind of information provided and in the linguistic features used and, second, that a number of differences can be explained with reference to Hall’s and Hofstede’s cultural models. The study shows that linguistic research can contribute considerably to marketing studies, by identifying linguistic markers that could be associated with cultural dimensions and by illustrating how they interact in actual website texts.”

Katherine Wertz


Emails from the boss—curse or blessing? Relations between communication channels, leader evaluation, and employees’ attitudes

Braun, S., Bark, A., Kirchner, A., Stegmann, S., & van Dick, R. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 50–81. doi: 10.1177/2329488415597516

“The present research investigates if and how a more digitally centered communication between supervisors and employees satisfies employees’ needs regarding the communication with their supervisors and influences employees’ attitudes toward the supervisor and the job. In a cross-sectional online study, 261 employees rated their supervisors’ actual and ideal use of different communication channels (i.e., telephone, face-to-face, email) regarding quality and quantity. Employees’ job satisfaction and their perceptions of their supervisors’ effectiveness and team identification were measured as dependent variables. Employees perceived face-to-face communication to be of higher quality than telephone and email communication, and they indicated a preference for more face-to-face communication with their supervisors than they actually had. Moreover, the perceived quality of communication, especially via face-to-face, was strongly and positively related to the dependent variables. These results provide insights into potential problems of increasing e-leadership in organizations. [The authors] conclude with recommendations to reduce these problems.”

Katherine Wertz

An examination of leader-member dyadic politeness of exchange and servant leadership on group member performance

Bakar, H., & McCann, R. (2018). International Journal of Business Communication, 55(4), 501–525. doi: 10.1177/2329488415597517

“Integrating conversational constraint theory and models of homophily and relational dyadic communication, this study investigates how leader-member politeness exchange and servant leadership influence group member performance in a Malaysian organizational context. Using hierarchical linear modeling with data obtained from a sample of 510 employees, 65 workgroups, and 3 organizations, a politeness of exchange-servant leadership model was tested. Results show that servant leadership was positively and significantly associated with workgroup manager’s ratings of group member’s performance. The positive association between servant leadership and group member performance is more pronounced when managers and members in workgroups are high in politeness of exchange in their interactions. As predicted, leader-member dyadic politeness of exchange within the workgroup manager-group member dyads moderated this positive association.”

Katherine Wertz

Full- and part-time dissent: Examining the effect of employment status on dissent expression

Kassing, J., Fanelli, S., & Chakravarthy, L. (2018). International Journal of Business Communication, 55(4), 455–465. doi: 10.1177/2329488415597518

“This study examined whether employment status affected the amount and type of dissent employees expressed to management. To address this full-time and part-time employees in separate data collections completed the Upward Dissent Scale. A comparison of participant scores indicated that full-time employees used comparatively more prosocial (direct-factual appeals and solution presentation) and repetition upward dissent tactics compared to part-time employees. Contrastingly, part-time employees relied more heavily on upward dissent expressions that involved circumventing their bosses and threatening to quit their jobs. The findings indicate that employment status has a notable effect on the expression of upward dissent—with full- and part-time employees relying on differing tactics.”

Katherine Wertz

Humor style clusters: Exploring managerial humor

Evans, T., & Steptoe-Warren, G. (2018). International Journal of Business Communication, 55(4), 443–454. doi: 10.1177/2329488415612478

“The current study is the first to explore the relationships between managerial humor and workplace facets using cluster analysis. Two-hundred and two employed adults rated their managers’ humor and workplace facets online. K-means cluster analyses identified three managerial humor clusters, mostly replicating those found in the existing literature. A significant pattern of differences in stress, communication, creativity, perceptions of leader power, and job satisfaction were found between the clusters. Findings suggest negative humor use is most likely to be damaging to organizations when not used alongside positive humor types, and it is not merely the frequency with which a manager uses an individual humor type, but the holistic view of their humor, which is of importance in gauging valence of organizational facets. Using cluster analysis was beneficial in challenging assumptions from the existing literature, further contextualizing our understanding of humor and reinforcing the importance of humor use in the workplace.”

Katherine Wertz

Professional issues

Evolving skill sets and job pathways of technical communicators

Shalamova, N., Rice-Bailey, T., & Wikoff, K. (2019). Communication Design Quarterly Review, 6(3), 14–24. doi: 10.1145/3309578.3309580

“Recent research in technical communication (TC) indicates that the field has become more varied than ever in terms of job titles, job skills, and levels of involvement in the design and production process. Here, [the authors] examine this diversity by detailing the results of a small-scale anonymous survey of individuals who are currently working as technical communicators (TCs). The purpose of [the] survey was to discover what job titles people who identify as TCs have held and the skills required of those positions. The study was conducted using the online survey platform Qualtrics. Survey results found that TCs occupy jobs and use skills that are often quite different from ‘traditional’ TC careers. Results further support previous research that these roles and responsibilities continue to evolve. However, results also suggest that this evolution is more sweeping than previously realized—moving TCs away from not only the traditional technical writing role but also the ‘technical communicator’ role as it has been understood for the past 20-25 years.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Computer-mediated communication to facilitate synchronous online focus group discussions: Feasibility study for qualitative HIV research among transgender women across the United States

Wirtz, A. L., Cooney, E. E., Chaudhry, A., & Reisner, S. L. (2019). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(3), e12569. doi: 10.2196/12569

“Novel, technology-based methods are rapidly increasing in popularity across multiple facets of quantitative research. Qualitative research, however, has been slower to integrate technology into research methodology. One method, computer-mediated communication (CMC), has been utilized to a limited extent for focus group discussions.… This study aimed to assess feasibility of an online video conferencing system to further adapt CMC to facilitate [seven] synchronous focus group discussions among [41] transgender women living in six cities in eastern and southern United States” for the purpose of informing “a technology-enhanced cohort study to assess HIV acquisition among transgender women.…CMC focus group discussions were found to facilitate geographic diversity; allow participants to control anonymity and privacy (e.g., use of pseudonyms and option to use video); ease scheduling by eliminating challenges related to travel to a data collection site; and offer flexibility to join via a variety of devices.…This method may provide an optimal alternative to engaging hard-to-reach participants in focus group discussions.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Data-driven approaches to research and teaching in professional and technical communication [introduction to special issue]

Boettger, R. K., & Ishizaki, S. (eds). (2018). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 61(4), 352–355. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2018.2870547

“The increasing availability of big data coupled with computational analysis has given TPC researchers and instructors new approaches. However, communication—whether it is written, oral, visual, or multimodal—is a complex cultural process, and it is highly dependent on context.…Whether we are teaching technical communication students who will be communicating the results of data-driven studies or training doctoral students who will be conducting data-driven research projects, it is not enough to simply introduce data-driven methods and tools.…Introduction of computational approaches must be complemented by the traditional humanistic approach to analyzing data.” To this end, the editors of this special issue asked contributors “to engage in a wide range of methodological questions” and to offer perspectives on how data-driven approaches are affecting or enhancing our teaching, research, and understanding of the field.

Lyn Gattis

DrawingOut—An innovative drawing workshop method to support the generation and dissemination of research findings

Gameiro, S., de Guevara, B. B., El Refaie, E., & Payson, A. (2018). PLOS ONE, 13(9), e0203197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203197

“A growing body of literature has explored the potential for arts-based methods to generate and disseminate research, particularly on sensitive or complex topics. This article presents DrawingOut, a metaphor-centred drawing workshop designed to collect visual and textual data about individuals’ experiences of sensitive or taboo health experiences.…[The authors] piloted DrawingOut in a study of nine women with a minority ethnic or religious background in Cardiff, UK. The women were invited to participate in a series of structured drawing activities. The conversations occurring during the workshop were recorded and then subjected to thematic analysis.…This pilot study supports the view that healthcare actors can use the DrawingOut method to engage people to talk about sensitive health topics, while simultaneously providing them with an enjoyable and empowering research experience.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Durable, portable research through partnerships with interdisciplinary advocacy groups, specific research topics, and larger data sets

Molloy, C. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 165–176. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1588375

“Relying on the case of a mixed-methods study centered on patients’ strategies for establishing their credibility in clinical conversations, this essay argues that the more intentional and effective the participant recruitment and the more specific the inquiry, the more likely technical communication and rhetoric of science researchers are to encounter potentially powerful partners through which they might get and analyze compelling data and, thus, gain engaged audiences outside of their disciplines.”

Rhonda Stanton

Durable research, portable findings: Rhetorical methods in case study research

Moriarty, D., Nunez De Villavicencio, P., Black, L., Bustos, M., Cai, H., Mehlenbacher, B., & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 124–136. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1588376

“Case studies have been a central methodology employed by scholars working in the rhetoric of science and technical communication. However, concerns have been raised about how cases are constructed and collected, and what they convey. The authors reflect on how rhetoricians of science and technical communication researchers can—and do—construct a variety of case-based mixed-methods studies in ways that may make our research more portable and durable without undercutting the important and central role of case-based analysis.”

Rhonda Stanton

Introducing Fireant: A freeware, multiplatform social media data-analysis tool

Anthony, L. (2019). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 61(4), 428–442. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2018.2870681

“This paper introduces a new social media data-analysis tool called FireAnt that allows technical and professional communication researchers, instructors, and students to easily collect, analyze, and visualize social media communication.…Currently, most social media analysis is carried out using custom computer scripts written in programming languages such as Python and R. Although these custom scripts can be very powerful, they create an enormous barrier to those without a strong computational background or the resources to hire a software engineer or data scientist.…FireAnt is a freeware, stand-alone, multiplatform social media data-analysis tool designed for both novice and expert computer users. It can be used to collect, analyze, and subsequently visualize social media data as time-series plots, geopositional maps, and network graphs. It can also export results for further processing using traditional corpus tools, statistical packages, and custom scripts.” This tutorial demonstrates “how FireAnt can be used to collect social media data related to specific companies, analyze those data, and visualize the data in a variety of ways.”

Lyn Gattis

Q-Rhetoric and controlled equivocation: Revising “The Scientific Study of Subjectivity” for cross-disciplinary collaboration

Gottschalk Druschke, C., Booth, E., & Lundberg, E. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 137–151. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1583377

“This article offers a revision to an existing social science methodology, Q methodology, through ‘Q-Rhetoric.’ After detailing Q methodology’s theoretical underpinnings and practical method, and persistent critiques of the methodology, the article employs perspectives from rhetorical theory and Amerindian anthropology to suggest a methodological correction. It concludes by detailing the use of Q-Rhetoric to intervene in a Wisconsin stream management controversy, proposing Q-Rhetoric as a pragmatic and theoretically sound methodology for working across disciplinary divides.”

Rhonda Stanton

Science communication

Building better bridges: Toward a transdisciplinary science communication

Johnson, J., & Xenos, M. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 112–123. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1583378

“In this article the authors envision a more durable and portable model of scholarship on public engagement with science through partnerships between rhetoricians of science and quantitative social scientists. The authors consider a number of barriers and limitations that make such partnerships difficult, with an eye toward discovering ways that researchers may overcome them. The authors conclude by articulating guidelines for reciprocal transdisciplinary work as well as specific recommended practices for such collaborations.”

Rhonda Stanton


Catalyst to connection: When technical difficulties lead to social support for older adults

Francis, J., Kadylak, T., Makki, T. W., Rikard, R. V., & Cotten, S. R. (2018). American Behavioral Scientist, 62(9), 1167–1185. doi: 10.1177/0002764218773829

“Information and communication technology (ICT) use can mitigate the negative impact of various age-related threats, such as isolation and loneliness, by facilitating connection with social ties and access to social support. Although research regarding various uses and benefits of ICTs among older adults has increased, there is limited research regarding the impact of technical difficulties on older adults’ well-being. [This] study explores technical difficulties encountered, how older adults cope with ICT failure, and the various forms of social support that may result as a consequence of accessing technical support. [The authors] use data from nine semistructured focus groups conducted with older adults in the Midwest region of the United States. Results show that older adults may adapt new strategies for coping with the technical difficulties that arise from regular ICT use. Furthermore, as older adults incorporate ICTs into their daily lives and seek assistance from social ties and experts, they may also be indirectly combating the threat of isolation and loneliness.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Information and communication technology roles in agricultural value chain promotion among peri-urban women farmers in Imo State, Nigeria

Atoma, C. N., Onoh, P. A., & Emerhirhi, A. E. (2018). Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), 2061. [doi: none]

“Farmers do not make/maximize profits when they stop at the production level only. To make more profits, they need to add value to their products. This paper examines the roles of ICTs in promoting agricultural value chain among women farmers who reside in the urban fringes of Imo State. The specific objectives were to identify value chain information needs of women farmers, ascertain ICT devices used by the women farmers, and determine perceived roles of ICTs in promoting agricultural value chain. A total of 250 women farmers were randomly selected and interviewed using questionnaire complemented with oral discussion.” Respondents reported needing agricultural value chain information on production and storage (98%), marketing/business development (100%), financial services (98.8%), processing/packaging (88%), and distribution (93.6%). Information devices used by the farmers included radio, mobile phones, television, periodicals, and extension agents. “ICT device/sources provide information on time of planting, availability of seeds/input, reducing time of business transactions, financial services provision and market prices among roles.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Disconnecting to connect: Developing postconnectivist tactics for mobile and networked technical communication

Verhulsdonck, G., Melton, J., & Shah, V. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 152–164. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1588377

“In a networked society, humans are connected through mobile devices to always-on networks, and these technologies merge with us in new ways. In this environment, studying human-networked interactions involves an expanded type of usability. In this article, [the authors] argue that a key component of usability is how humans connect and disconnect from these networks. For this reason, the authors advocate studying how users connect and disconnect between online and offline contexts in their everyday life. Such an effort involves questioning our assumptions about the role of connection in usability and introduces methodological issues in studying these processes. These shifts require our research to be more multidisciplinary and more methodologically demanding, with major implications for the portability and durability of technical communication research.”

Rhonda Stanton


Linguistic markers of stand and genre in upper-level student writing

Aull, L. (2019). Written Communication, 36(2), 267–295. doi: 10.1177/0741088318819472

This article points out specific similarities and differences between argumentative versus expository genres of college-student writing that are helpful for writing instructors to keep in mind. “Stance is a growing focus of academic writing research and an important aspect of writing development in higher education. Research on student writing to date has explored stance across different levels, language backgrounds, and disciplines, but has rarely focused on stance features across genres. This article explores stance marker use between two important genre families in higher education—persuasive argumentative writing and analytic explanatory writing—based on corpus linguistic analysis of late undergraduate and early graduate-level writing in the Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Papers (MICUSP). The specific stance markers in the study, both epistemic and textual cues, have been shown to distinguish student writing across levels; this study, then, extends the analysis to consider the comparative use of these markers across genres. The findings show two stance expectations persistent across genres as well as significant distinctions between argumentative and explanatory writing vis-à-vis stance markers that intensify and contrast. The findings thus point to important considerations for instruction, assignment design, and future research.”

Diana Fox Bentele