69.4 November 2022

Recent & Relevant

Sean C. Herring, Editor

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 Sean Herring at SeanHerring@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.

Audience analysis

Exploring the opportunities of the emojis in brand communication: The case of the beer industry

Casado-Molina, A. M., Rojas-de Gracia, M. M., Alarcón-Urbistondo, P., & Romero-Charneco, M. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 315–333. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419832964

“This study shows that emojis are a significant element in brand communications, which still requires attention from researchers. Specifically, it describes the use of emojis by the four companies with the largest audiences on Twitter in the Spanish beer industry. Through a correspondence analysis, [the authors] found that those emojis were not a mere occasional resource within a message but rather a differentiating element for brand positioning. Likewise, [the authors] analyzed the existing relationship between the way in which they were used and the engagement generated. In this regard, [the authors] concluded that communications using emojis aimed at customer service and care, as well as those used in positive contexts and for emphasis, were the ones related to higher user engagement. [The authors] discuss herein the practical implications of these findings for businesses.”

Katherine Wertz


Transforming the Rights-Based Encounter: Disability rights, disability justice, and the ethics of access

Bennett, K.C. & Hannah, M.A. (July 2022). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 36(3), 326–354. https://doi.org/10.1177/10506519221087960

As part of community engagement, “Technical and professional communication (TPC) has recently turned to social justice to interrogate seemingly neutral documents’ impacts on marginalized populations, including disabled individuals. In workplace contexts, such efforts are often impeded by rights-based discourse that maintains ableist institutional spaces and impedes efforts toward broader institutional change. Recognizing that TPC practitioners likely will encounter rights-based discourse, this article offers an ethical decision-making framework that couples the field’s previous disability studies work with disability justice. We offer guidelines and a critical vocabulary for bridging legal rights and social justice concerns to inspire ethical articulations of disability access needed for transformative change.”

Sean C. Herring


Corporations’ owned social media narrative

Sun, Y., Zhai, L., Liu, W., & Yang, K. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(2), 280–293. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3155917

“Social media have been widely used for corporation-generated narratives. Corporate communication entails a ‘storytelling process’ and a narrative perspective. Corporate narrative has taken on new forms with the emergence of social media, which is the object of this study and called corporations’ owned social media narrative (COSMN). . . . [The authors] conducted an integrative literature review of studies on corporations’ owned social media narrative based on journal articles from the database of the Web of Science Core Collection. After retrieving 25 articles in accordance with [the] research purpose, [the authors] conducted a qualitative content analysis to describe general characteristics of the literature and identify narrative strategies and functions. When corporations undertake advertising, branding, and social networking activities (among others) on social media, they tend to use form-based narrative strategies (technical strategy and formality strategy), content-based narrative strategies (broadcasting strategy, reacting strategy, engaging strategy, and emotional strategy), and medium-based narrative strategy (transmedia strategy) to achieve functions of market communication, technical communication, and public relations work (identity construction, impression management, stakeholder endorsement, corporate social responsibility communication, and crisis communication). This integrative literature review provides theoretical implications for corporate social media research and practical implications for digital marketing practitioners.”

Lyn Gattis

Safety & health terminology management

Woessner, H. (2022). Professional Safety, 67(02), 18–23. https://onepetro.org/PS/article-abstract/67/02/18/478106/. [doi: none]

“The article analyzes the reasons for mastering the safety and health concepts and terms of an organization and describes how safety terminology management program is to be accomplished. Topics covered include how unclear, inconsistent, competing, or contradictory verbal and written communications can result in conceptual noise, ways to ensure that safety terminology remains free of conceptual noise, and a standard for the establishment of an occupational health and safety management system.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Shaping corporate character through symmetrical communication: The effects on employee-organization relationships

Men, L. R., & Sung, Y. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 427–449. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488418824989

“This study investigates how corporate character is shaped by organizational symmetrical communication and its effects on the quality of employee-organization relationships. Results of an online survey with 314 working adults in the United States showed that symmetrical internal communication plays an important role in defining the organization’s positive character of agreeableness (i.e., warmth, empathy, and integrity), enterprise (i.e., modernity, adventure, and boldness), and competence (i.e., conscientiousness, drive). Symmetrical internal communication positively influences the quality of employee-organization relationships. The ruthless corporate character showed significant negative effects on employee trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. The theoretical and managerial implications of the study are discussed.”

Katherine Wertz

Tactical Risk Communication: Observations from teaching and learning about crisis communication during COVID-19

Bishop, T., Capan, E., Larsen, B., Preston, R., & Sparby, E. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 175–189, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.2008509

“In a Spring 2020 Technical and Professional Communication (TPC) course on risk communication, we watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold and discussed how technical communicators can foreground vulnerable and marginalized populations who are often excluded from official communication channels. The article below offers perspectives on tactical communication and/or coalition building during a pandemic, coining the term tactical risk communication (TRC) and examining how TRC functions in the face of a global health crisis.”

Rhonda Stanton


Pasts and futures of design thinking: Implications for technical communication

Tham, J. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(2), 261–279. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3156226

“Design thinking has gained popularity over the last few decades due to its promise for social innovation and user-centered solutions for technical communication practices and pedagogy. Yet, our increasingly complex sociotechnical climate calls for the historical examination of the decades-old problem-solving model and re-envisioning of the prospect of design thinking in academia and industry. . . . This article interrogates the historiography of design thinking by mapping its dominant narratives and constructs antenarrative futures by weaving adjuvant accounts into new trajectories for technical communication purposes and aspirations. Based on the mapping of historical traces of design-thinking narratives, this article presents two root accounts of design-thinking development—the efficiency narrative and the participatory narrative—with key identifiers and examples. Retracing the stories to highlight stances of nondominant sources, the findings indicate the importance of social advocacy through two main antenarratives—inclusion and social justice. Taking into account the antenarratives of design thinking, future applications should center inclusion and social justice advocacy in academic as well as industry settings. Future studies may investigate this approach to implementing design thinking and examine the corresponding outcomes.”

Lyn Gattis

Discourse communities

Exclusionary public memory documents: Orientating Historical Marker Texts within a technical communication framework

O’Brien, A. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 111–125, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.1977851

“This paper theorizes historical marker texts (HMT) as succinct, public facing informational reports that reinforce white supremacy and minimize or erase the memory of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals. In this layered content and discourse analysis, I evaluate the demographics of the commissioners at the local and state level, the instructions for the HMT application, and the text of a selected group of HMTs.”

Rhonda Stanton


Teaching participative justice in professional writing

Hashlamon, Y. & Teston, C. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 159–174, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.2000031

“Technical and professional communication (TPC) curricula tend to prioritize hyperpragmatist learning outcomes, objectives, and activities. Drawing on a grounded theory analysis of curricular self-assessment data, including interviews with community partners, we argue that TPC in the U.S. is at constant risk of co-option by market logics. Through a speculative curricular framework that works toward building more just, liveable worlds, this essay reimagines TPC curricula as an opportunity to redress inequities caused by exploitative market logics.”

Rhonda Stanton


Patient-based benefit Risk Assessment of medicines: Development, refinement, and validation of a content search strategy to retrieve relevant studies

El Masri, H., McGuire, T. M., Dalais, C., van Driel, M., Benham, H., & Hollingworth, S. A. (2022). Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA, 110(2), 185. https://jmla.pitt.edu/ojs/jmla/article/view/1306

“Introduction: Poor indexing and inconsistent use of terms and keywords may prevent efficient retrieval of studies on the patient-based benefit-risk assessment (BRA) of medicines. We aimed to develop and validate an objectively derived content search strategy containing generic search terms that can be adapted for any search for evidence on patient-based BRA of medicines for any therapeutic area.

Methods: We used a robust multistep process to develop and validate the content search strategy: (1) we developed a bank of search terms derived from screening studies on patient-based BRA of medicines in various therapeutic areas, (2) we refined the proposed content search strategy through an iterative process of testing sensitivity and precision of search terms, and (3) we validated the final search strategy in PubMed by firstly using multiple sclerosis as a case condition and secondly computing its relative performance versus a published systematic review on patient-based BRA of medicines in rheumatoid arthritis.

Results: We conceptualized a final search strategy to retrieve studies on patient-based BRA containing generic search terms grouped into two domains, namely the patient and the BRA of medicines (sensitivity 84%, specificity 99.4%, precision 20.7%). The relative performance of the content search strategy was 85.7% compared with a search from a published systematic review of patient preferences in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. We also developed a more extended filter, with a relative performance of 93.3% when compared with a search from a published systematic review of patient preferences in lung cancer.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Designing three-dimensional augmented reality weather visualizations to enhance general aviation weather education

Meister, P., Miller, J., Wang, K., Dorneich, M. C., Winer, E., Brown, L. J., & Whitehurst, G. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(2), 321–336. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3155920

The researchers “designed, developed, and evaluated a 3D augmented reality (AR) weather visualization to investigate whether it could enhance communication about weather in general aviation (GA) education. Evaluations of GA weather training identified gaps in training where students lack the ability to correlate weather knowledge to inflight decision making. . . . A 3D AR thunderstorm cell lifecycle visualization was designed and developed. A preliminary evaluation of the application for GA weather training was conducted with one certified flight instructor, one university aviation meteorology instructor, one university thunderstorm expert, and three students to assess whether the AR thunderstorm visualization can communicate weather theory and whether the interfaces are usable for learning and task completion. Students’ knowledge of thunderstorms increased after using the visualization to explore the dynamics of the thunderstorm lifecycle and various aspects of thunderstorms. Experts felt that the learning experience met their expectations of what they wanted to communicate about thunderstorm theory. The AR interfaces were rated as usable for learning interactions and produced low levels of workload. The communication of thunderstorm theory was supported by the animation and interactivity of the visualization and has the potential to enhance current general aviation weather education.”

Lyn Gattis

Ethical issues

Stakeholders’ attributions of whistleblowers: The effects of complicity and motives on perceptions of likeability, credibility, and legitimacy

Richardson, B., & Garner, J. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 334–354. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419863096

“Organizational wrongdoing remains a persistent, prevalent problem, one that leads to exponentially more injuries, deaths, and cost than street crime in the United States each year. Whistleblowing has become one of the primary ways in which wrongdoing is exposed and investigated, but without support from key stakeholders, whistleblowing may not affect constructive change. This study used an attribution theory framework to explore relationships between stakeholders’ perceptions of different types of whistleblowers. Specifically, [the authors] varied whistleblowers’ motives (altruistic and selfish) and involvement in wrongdoing (complicit or innocence) to test their effects on stakeholders’ intentions to ostracize the whistleblower and their perceptions of the whistleblower’s likeability, legitimacy, and three dimensions of credibility (goodwill, trustworthiness, and competence). Respondents were composed of two stakeholder groups, fraternity and sorority members and university alumni. Results indicate that both stakeholder groups found the innocent whistleblower more likeable and credible than the complicit whistleblower, while the fraternity/sorority respondents found the altruistic whistleblowers more likeable, credible, and legitimate, than their selfish counterparts. The article concludes with implications of the findings for whistleblowers, and limitations and directions for future research.”

Katherine Wertz

Health communication

Art advocacy: Applying a public memory rhetorical framework to health crisis communication

Taylor, M.A., & Glowacki, E.M. (2022). Health Communication. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2071391

“Health campaigns and public health messaging strategies often rely on text-based efforts to communicate with audiences. As research grows in the areas of health and visual media, this essay puts a rhetorical framework of public memory in conversation with health campaign communication to show possibilities for audiences who are less likely to be moved by traditional institutional health narratives. The artifact for analysis is an art installation by Domenic Esposito, who in 2018 designed and placed a large scale “Opioid Spoon” at the headquarters of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut. After situating public art as an effective way to advance health crisis messaging, [the authors] then preview the next phase of this research project that analyzes COVID-19 art as a counterpublic health narrative. [The authors] conclude by suggesting future health communication scholarship engage with the intersections of public health art, memory, and advocacy in order to reflect more accurately how communities experience health inequity.”

Walter Orr

Information management

Two social functions of stepwise transitions when discussing ideas in workplace meetings

Tiitinen, S., & Lempiälä, T. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 355–384. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488418819132

“Using conversation analysis and audio recordings of workplace meetings, [the authors] analyze stepwise transitions in discussions about ideas during meetings. [The authors] demonstrate that, in this context, stepwise transitions have functions related to maintaining cooperative social relationships by offering a way to (a) resist the presuppositions of the presented idea without explicit disagreement and (b) smoothly bypass ongoing or evolving disagreements when assessing the idea. Thus, the mundane view of stepwise transitions as a random disruption to meeting interactions is misleading. [The authors] discuss the results in relation to the literature on group interaction related to idea development and topic management and disagreements in workplace meetings.”

Katherine Wertz


Analyzing safety communication in industrial contexts

Digmayer, C. & Jakobs, E.M.: (2022). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 52(3), 251–290. https://doi.org/10.1177/00472816211014126

“Work in industrial contexts is confronted with various risks, which are further amplified by the trend toward Industry 4.0. Approaches are needed to examine safety communication (SC) in such changing environments. Existing studies focus on individual SC means and quantitative evaluation measures. This article proposes a qualitative approach for analyzing SC with which a process chain in a metal-working company is investigated. The results reveal that SC is implemented as a complex system of communicative means. Weaknesses in this system entail several problems at the level of both workplaces and process chains. Due to a lack of digitalization, SC does not meet the requirements of Industry 4.0. Several task areas for communication professionals are identified in optimizing SC. These include content preparation for existing SC means according to work contexts and related tasks, creating digital SC content, and increasing the companies’ resilience to novel risks.”

Anita Ford

Expanding ethical pedagogy in technical communication: Learning from nanobots

Duncan, M. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 207–219, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.1977850

“Attention to the ethical dimension in technical and professional communication (TPC) is paramount, especially when dealing with new, emerging technologies. Such technologies frequently rest within corporate environments that may resist ethical gatekeeping. I suggest several methods by which TPC instructors can critically question the limits of corporate structure to show students that they have a variety of options for responding to assignments other than those their employers may offer them.”

Rhonda Stanton

Intercultural communication

Bodies of proof: COVID-19 and unwitnessed remote work

Randazzo, C. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 143–158, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.1998639

“Using a case study of four professionals who suddenly worked from home during COVID-19, this article discusses participants’ experiences of proving work when their bodies were not physically near coworkers (“proof”). I explain proof’s features; participants’ concerns and responses to it; its consequences for workers; and its potential devaluation of nonproductive, unwitnessed processes. I suggest technical and professional communicators are in a kairotic moment for negotiating the value of nonproductive time and unwitnessed work.”

Rhonda Stanton


Technical communicators’ use of and requirements for special language reference tools

Löckinger, G. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(2), 294–320. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3155918

“Technical communicators use special language information to describe technology products. Researching such information is part and parcel of their job and thus occupies a relevant share of their working time. Numerous studies examine information needs and search techniques of various professionals, such as engineers or translators. However, very little is known about technical communicators’ use of and requirements for information sources containing special language information.” According to the results of a written online survey conducted among technical communicators, “[r]espondents use 14 major types of information sources for researching special language information. Half can be categorized as reference tools, while the other half are document-like. Respondents would like to have special language reference tools that are available electronically, can be adapted to their personal needs, and offer up-to-date information with good usability. Half of the information source types are document-like and can be used as text corpora. Thus, text corpus-management methods and tools should be promoted in technical communication practice and teaching. Technical communicators’ requirements and wishes described in this article lay the groundwork for developing tailor-made special language reference tools.”

Lyn Gattis


Leadership and effectiveness: A content analysis of letters to shareholders during the financial crisis

Josef, S., & Helena, C. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 385–405. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488418804044

“The present study investigates whether the leadership effectiveness of CEOs from major U.S. companies changes in times of the Financial Crisis. The focus lays on important leadership qualities and their corresponding linguistic markers. These have been previously identified to be either, a crucial part of effective leadership or leadership in general. Leadership qualities are measured through the quantitative content analysis software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, 2015. The written language use of 104 CEOs within 594 letters to shareholders are investigated on possible changes of (a) Extroversion (as measured through first-person plural words), (b) Power Motive, (c) risk taking, and (d) Narcissism (as measured through first-person singular words). The results revealed significant changes of extroversion (first-person plural words) and risk-taking scores. The findings show that the Financial Crisis provoked substantial changes in linguistic indicators of leadership effectiveness. Furthermore, in times of crises, some favorable leadership qualities seem to become highlighted, whereas other important aspects dramatically decrease.”

Katherine Wertz

Political discourse

Facing the strain: The persuasive effects of conversion messages on COVID-19 vaccination attitudes and behavioral intentions

Conlin, J., Baker, M., Zhang, B., Shoenberger, H., & Shen, F. (2022). Health Communication. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2065747

“This study examined two-sided conversion messages in relation to one-sided advocacy messages in reducing vaccine hesitancy related to COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Results demonstrated that, for vaccine-hesitant participants, conversion messages increased pro-COVID-19 vaccination attitudes and behavioral intentions. For high vaccine-hesitant participants, the relationship between conversion messages and attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccinations was mediated through source credibility. For low vaccine-hesitant participants, mediation occurred through counterarguing. Findings have implications for health message tailoring related to COVID-19 vaccine uptake.”

Walter Orr

Public relations

Analysis of direct-to-consumer healthcare service advertisements on television: An application of the patient expectation framework

Park, S.Y., Hill, K., Yun, G.W., Friedman, S., & Coppes, M.J. (2022). Health Communication. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2051349

“Direct-to-consumer advertisements for healthcare services constitute a rare channel of public communication where consumers see and hear directly from their local providers and healthcare organizations. Although spending on these advertisements has increased drastically during the past decades, research on their content and effects remains rare. To fill this gap, [authors] analyzed primetime television advertisements for healthcare services directly targeting consumers. The advertisements were collected from the two largest media markets in Nevada for one month. In total, 795 advertisements were identified, and 106 of them were non-duplicates. Analysis revealed that the advertisements focused on patients’ good health outcomes by showing them smiling, going out and about, having fun with others, and enjoying rigorous physical activities. On the other hand, the advertisements focused less on the providers. Although the advertisements often showed providers in clinical settings, basic information about their professional degrees was often missing. Mentions of providers’ other qualifications and professional experiences were even scarcer. Also, a substantial number of advertisements failed to show providers interacting with patients. Additional analysis of patient and provider characteristics revealed under-representation of racial or ethnic minority and older adult patients. Representation of women and minorities as providers was even more uncommon. [Authors] discussed the implications of these findings from the perspective of patient expectation and made suggestions to help providers improve their direct-to-consumer advertisements.”

Walter Orr

Corporate apology after bad publicity: A dual-process model of CSR fit and CSR history on purchase intention and negative word of mouth

Chung, A., & Bok Lee, K. (2022). International Journal of Business Communication, 59, 406–426. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488418819133

“This article proposes and tests a dual-process model of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication. Building on the framing theory and associative network theory, the authors examine how including statements about a company’s CSR fit and CSR history in apology statements can affect purchase intention and negative word of mouth (NWOM). Perceived integrity, attitude toward the apology statement, and attitude toward the company are sequential mediators that will subsequently affect purchase intention and NWOM. The results show that CSR fit will positively affect purchase intention and negatively affect NWOM through increased perceived integrity and attitude toward the apology statement, which will positively affect their attitude toward the company. The findings also show that CSR history will positively affect purchase intention and negatively affect NWOM through increased perceived integrity and attitude toward the apology statement, which will positively affect their attitude toward the company.”

Katherine Wertz

From Domination of the Environment to Stewardship: A Historical Look at Denver Water’s Public Communication 1933–2018

Williams, S.: (2022). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 52(3), 334–364. https://doi.org/10.1177/00472816211037937

“When most people think about the water coming from their kitchen faucets, they seldom consider where the water originates and how transporting it to their homes has environmental impacts. Utilities that supply water know the complexity of their systems, but from their position as a ‘utility,’ they view their job as supplying safe water to their customers, not necessarily stewarding the environment. Consequently, when building large projects like dams, canals, and tunnels, utilities regard environmental disruption as a necessary byproduct of serving growing cities with water. Representations of these projects often replicate the ‘man conquering nature’ frame, praising these engineering marvels for their defiance of nature. Denver Water, the utility that serves almost 1.5 million people on the arid eastern slope of the Colorado Rockies, has produced films describing its complex system since the early 20th century, and these films reveal an evolution of values from dominating nature to actively stewarding the environment. This paper reports on a grounded theory analysis of films produced by Denver Water between 1933 and 2018 examining how the films frame human relationships to the natural environment. The results reveal that the films increasingly express stewardship ideals over those of domination, with recent public communication actively advocating for environmental causes. The paper concludes by suggesting that we can learn important lessons from Denver Water about ethical organizational action for environmental stewardship.”

Anita Ford


Drag-and-drop versus numeric entry options: A comparison of survey ranking questions in Qualtrics™

Genter, S., García Trejo, Y., & Nichols, E. (2022). Journal of User Experience, 17(3), 117–130. [doi: none]

“An online feedback survey for the 2020 United States Census Partnership program included a question asking respondents to rank the amount of time they spent on six job-related tasks. For this study, [the researchers] randomly assigned respondents to answer this question using either the numeric entry or drag-and-drop option available in Qualtrics™. [The authors] compared the two designs by their distribution of rankings and by the amount of time respondents spent on-screen to answer the question. The distribution of rankings did not vary by design, and [the researchers] found no differences in time-on-task. However, [the researchers] did uncover certain challenges while analyzing the data that should be taken into consideration when using these specific ranking designs. The drag-and-drop option produced a dataset that appears cleaner because all items are ranked (which is true even if only one item is moved), yet some rankings may be ‘forced’ if a respondent intended to skip an item. The numeric entry option, however, gives respondents the capability to rank multiple items equivalently. This can be useful if a researcher would like to allow respondents to express ambivalence about the relative ranking of items, but it also often results in out-of-range responses.”

Lyn Gattis

Scientific writing

Digital enhancements of scientific content at virtual and hybrid conferences

Zhou, Q. (2022). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 37(1), 35–37. https://doi.org/10.55752/amwa.2022.121

“Since the beginning of 2020, scientific conferences around the globe have evolved quickly to adapt to a virtual or hybrid format when in-person meetings were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the digital platforms now in place to enable virtual participation, interaction with scientific content in a digital format will likely become a new norm of the scientific conference experience. Digital enhancements of scientific presentations and posters may help bridge the gap of communication in a virtual format and may extend the reach of scientific content. This article provides a brief overview of common types of digital enhancements and summarizes insights from two conference organizers from their conversations at the “InformED” podcast. Researchers, conference organizers, and medical communication and publishing professionals will continue to optimize the digital enhancements and explore innovations to maximize the value of scientific content disseminated at virtual and hybrid scientific conferences.”

Walter Orr


Digital humanities and technical communication pedagogy: A case and a course for cross-program opportunities

Ballentine, B. (2022). Communication Design Quarterly, 10(1), 24–37. https://doi.org/10.1145/3507454.3507457

“Technical communication instructors, especially those with expertise in visual rhetoric, information design, or multimedia writing are well-suited to teach an introductory Digital Humanities (DH) course. Offering a DH course provides an opportunity to reach extrafield audiences and work with students from a variety of humanities disciplines who may not have the option of taking such a course in their home department. The article advocates for a DH course that offers a methods-driven pedagogy that engages students with active learning by requiring them to research, dissect, and report on existing DH projects, as well as work with existing datasets and methods from prior student research projects or existing DH tools. The sample student project reviewed here uses the data visualization software ImagePlot, and discussion includes how the student used the tool to examine changes in brightness, hue, and color saturation, as well as calculate the total number of distinct shapes from 397 comic book covers. Ultimately, the students are tasked with developing a research question and moving to an articulated methods-driven approach for exploring the question. The student project along with the tools and sample datasets available with them are treated as a module that may be included in an introductory DH course syllabus or training session.”

Lyn Gattis

The role of machine translation in translation education: A thematic analysis of translator educators’ beliefs

Rico, C., & Gonzalez Pastor, D. (2022). Translation & Interpreting, 14(1), 177–197. https://www.trans-int.org/index.php/transint/article/viewFile/1341/408

“Discussions on the teaching of machine translation (MT) have usually remained confined to translation technology pedagogy. Syllabus design, models for competence development, methodologies and evaluation procedures in this area have benefited from advances in translation pedagogy, but findings relating to the teaching of MT have been slow to be implemented in the translation classroom. Numerous studies have reflected translators’ perspectives on MT, including those of professional associations, employers, and institutional organizations. Students’ perspectives have also been collected, but the voice of the translation instructors is yet to be heard. A number of questions arise: What do translator educators think of MT? Would they be willing to use it in the translation classroom? If so, how and to what purpose? To answer these and related questions, we present the results of a qualitative study conducted with a group of translation educators at Universitat de València (University of Valencia, Spain) in the context of a broader research project. We specifically investigated their beliefs and perspectives towards the introduction of MT into the translation classroom. We used open-ended questions to collect qualitative data, and subsequently analysed responses within the framework of Grounded Theory. Findings provide valuable insights for discussion on the following topics: MT literacy, the blurring of MT key concepts and categorizations, the effect of MT on the development of translation competences, agency in MT reaching a stage where there is no longer a place for the human translator, and the eventual eclipse of the translator.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Antiprogrammatic action and the student ID: An ANT 2.0 analysis

Foltz, H. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31, 126–142, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.1963488

“This article examines a system of organizational keypunch identification technology between 1966 and 1972 via diachronous actor-network theory (ANT 2.0) visualized with ForceAtlas2, a network spatialization algorithm. This article’s greatest impacts lay in its analytic focus on programs and antiprograms and its evolution of existing visualization methodology, most notably by incorporating community detection and partitioning, which helps scholars and readers more easily identify macrotrends in the evolution of networks.”

Rhonda Stanton

Play, learn, and teach outdoors—Network (PLaTO-Net): Terminology, taxonomy, and ontology

Lee, E. Y., De Lannoy, L., Li, L., De Barros, M. I. A., Bentsen, P., Brussoni, M., & Tremblay, M. S. (2022). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 19(1), 1–20. https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-022-01294-0

“Background A recent dialogue in the field of play, learn, and teach outdoors (referred to as “PLaTO” hereafter) demonstrated the need for developing harmonized and consensus-based terminology, taxonomy, and ontology for PLaTO. This is important as the field evolves and diversifies in its approaches, contents, and contexts over time and in different countries, cultures, and settings. Within this paper, we report the systematic and iterative processes undertaken to achieve this objective, which has built on the creation of the global PLaTO-Network (PLaTO-Net). Methods This project comprised of four major methodological phases. First, a systematic scoping review was conducted to identify common terms and definitions used pertaining to PLaTO. Second, based on the results of the scoping review, a draft set of key terms, taxonomy, and ontology were developed, and shared with PLaTO members, who provided feedback via four rounds of consultation. Third, PLaTO terminology, taxonomy, and ontology were then finalized based on the feedback received from 50 international PLaTO member participants who responded to [greater than or equai to] 3 rounds of the consultation survey and dialogue. Finally, efforts to share and disseminate project outcomes were made through different online platforms. Results This paper presents the final definitions and taxonomy of 31 PLaTO terms along with the PLaTO-Net ontology model. The model incorporates other relevant concepts in recognition that all the aspects of the model are interrelated and interconnected. The final terminology, taxonomy, and ontology are intended to be applicable to, and relevant for, all people encompassing various identities (e.g., age, gender, culture, ethnicity, ability). Conclusions This project contributes to advancing PLaTO-based research and facilitating intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration, with the long-term goal of fostering and strengthening PLaTO’s synergistic linkages with healthy living, environmental stewardship, climate action, and planetary health agendas. Notably, PLaTO terminology, taxonomy and ontology will continue to evolve, and PLaTO-Net is committed to advancing and periodically updating harmonized knowledge and understanding in the vast and interrelated areas of PLaTO.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Usability studies

Interaction of symbols: Multiple symbols interact to provoke meaning, the foundation for better icon design

Zender, M. (April 2022). Visible Language, 56 (1), 72–105. https://doi.org/10.34314/vl.v56i1.4936

Much of our international lives depend on navigating symbols, which we use to make meaning. Zender pointed out that this “meaning-making is guided by context” and that “cultural context can change inferred meaning.” Zender’s research shows that “Multiple symbols in an icon add important context, which can improve comprehension,” but technical writers know the tension between clarity and conciseness. “Numerous studies support the thesis that icons frequently fail to communicate because designers have not appreciated that icons combine multiple symbols which interact to evoke meaning. Because symbols interact, a designer must know which symbols to combine and how to draw each symbol so that icons communicate clearly. This article brings together numerous research studies that explored new methods for designing icons based on the interaction of symbols.”

Diana Fox Bentele

User experience

How Real Is Too Real? User-Testing the Effects of Realism as a Risk Communication Strategy in Sea Level Rise Visualizations

Richards, D. & Jacobson, E. (2022). Technical Communication Quarterly, 31,190–206, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.1986135

“In visual risk communication, there has been a push toward using realism to show potential effects of sea level rise on coastal communities, often with the assumption that higher degrees of realism are more effective. We challenge this assumption by sharing the results of a user-based study exploring reactions to simulated images of flooded landmarks. The findings identify nuanced rhetorical and emotional responses, encouraging technical communicators to contribute to risk scholarship in psychology and cartography.”

Rhonda Stanton

The interplay between perceived usability and quality in visual design for tablet game interfaces

Kokil, U., & Harwood, T. (2022). Journal of User Experience, 17(3), 89–116. [doi: none]

“Research in human-computer interaction (HCI) has shown inconsistencies in the relationship between users’ perception of usability and the quality of visual design in digital products. Research is lacking in the gaming domain for visual design in user interfaces on tablet screens. Despite extensive research on visual aesthetics and perceived usability, best practices offer limited guidance for game interfaces from a user-centered design perspective.” In this two-phase study the researchers first employed “a design-oriented methodology to create a real iOS tablet game app from start to finish using ideation, focus groups, iterative prototyping, usability testing, and empirically evaluating game participants’ experiences,” with “two visual design conditions for hypothesis testing.” In the second phase, “56 participants [played] each game condition for 10 minutes for a within-subjects study. [The researchers] administered the Multidimensional Mood, AttrakDiff, and User Engagement Scale (UES) questionnaires to collect data. Findings demonstrate that high-quality visual design does not necessarily promote perceived usability, although both low- and high-quality visual designs showed significant influence. Participants rated their perceived usability of the game conditions to be equivalent. Findings also demonstrate that participants experienced a higher level of user engagement in the game interface with high-quality visual design.”

Lyn Gattis

Trans oppression through technical rhetorics: A queer phenomenological analysis of institutional documents

Moeggenberg, Z.C., Edenfield, A.C., & Holmes, S. (October 2022). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 36(4), 403–439. https://doi.org/10.1177/10506519221105492

“Technical communication has long acknowledged that documents can be unethical and even oppressive and harmful. But not all forms or experiences of oppression are equivalent or similar, and it can be instrumental to analyze in particular how certain groups are wounded by specific documents. In this article, the authors use Ahmed’s queer phenomenology to analyze institutional and government documents and demonstrate the ways that these technical documents create failed orientations. Then, through a focused analysis of a federal proposal policy, they show how these documents can produce failures for trans people in particular. The authors close by suggesting courses of actions for redressing these failures.”

Sean C. Herring


The language of optimism in corporate sustainability reports: A computerized content analysis

Laskin, A.V. (January 2022). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 85(1), 80–98. https://doi.org/10.1177/23294906211065507

As technical writers, we are called upon to use words carefully to meet projects’ audiences and goals, but that is often fraught with ethical considerations. This project studied the wording of corporate sustainability reports (CSR) and compared them to other “comparable corporate reports” for their levels of praise, satisfaction, inspiration, blame, hardship, denial, and overall optimism; then, the project questioned whether the CSR reports were disclosure documents or were actually marketing materials. “The discussion of sustainability reporting rarely addresses the inherent paradox within this concept—tremendous costs associated with sustainability efforts and lack of direct return on these investments. This study contributes to the discussion on sustainability by studying this paradox from the linguistic standpoint in order to answer a simple question: Why are sustainability reports produced? The study’s main contribution is evaluation of the place of sustainability reporting in the corporate communication genre: whether sustainability reporting is a vehicle of fair and objective sustainability disclosure or whether sustainability reporting belongs with marketing and promotional communication.”

Diana Fox Bentele