Instructions for Authors

Editorial Policy

The mission of Technical Communication is to cultivate informed practice by disseminating pertinent research and scholarship in the field. As part of our mission, we acknowledge the value and dignity of all individuals and strive for an environment of social justice that respects diverse traditions, heritages, and experiences. In pursuit of these goals, the journal publishes the following types of articles:

  • Reports of original research on technical communication topics
  • Original contributions to technical communication theory
  • Case studies of issues or problems addressed by technical communication
  • Tutorials on technical communication processes or procedures that respond to new laws, standards, requirements, techniques, or technologies
  • Reviews of research, bibliographies, and bibliographic essays on technical communication

Manuscript Preparation and Submission 

Submitting a manuscript to Technical Communication for review and possible publication implies that its submission has been approved by all authors, researchers, and/or organizations involved, that the manuscript (or a substantial portion) has not been published before, and that the manuscript is not under review elsewhere.

When using previously published materials (for example, images or text excerpts), authors are responsible for obtaining the permissions needed to reprint copyrighted materials.

The typical article length is between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Exceptions are possible.

Use up to three levels of headings and indicate them clearly. Do not number headings of sections and subsections.

FIRST-LEVEL HEADING
(all caps and bold, on a line by itself)

Second-level heading
(each word only capitalized, bold, on a line by itself)

Third-level heading
(first word only capitalized, bold, on a line by itself)

Except for the cover page, remove all identifying information from the manuscript. This includes author names, author affiliations, acknowledgments, and references to work in progress or unpublished manuscripts.

Do not use footnotes. Instead, use author-date citations within the text, and provide a complete list of works cited (labeled “References”). Avoid multiple citations for ideas or approaches unless they demonstrate an evolution in thought or practice.

Check all author-date citations within the text and all entries in the reference list for both accuracy and conformance to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 7th edition, chapters 9 and 10.

Submit your manuscript as a double-spaced electronic file with one-inch margins. Do not attempt to mimic the format or layout of a published article. Keep the layout as clean and simple as possible.

Microsoft Word files are preferred. If you use another word processor, a Rich Text Format (RTF) file is also acceptable.

Organize your manuscript as follows:

  • Page 1: Cover page—Title of the manuscript, a running head, and the names, affiliations, and contact info of all authors
  • Page 2: Structured abstract—A summary of the article (maximum 250 words), using the headings “Purpose,” ”Method,” “Results,” and “Conclusion”
  • Page 3: Up to five Keywords and a Practitioner’s Takeaway (maximum 100 words) displayed as a bulleted list summarizing the practical implications of the article.
  • Page 4: Start of the manuscript
  • References
  • Tables and figures—Start each table or figure on a new page. Assign each table and figure a number and title. If a manuscript is accepted for publication, provide high-resolution images.

Send the manuscript as an attachment to an email to the editor-in-chief, Sam Dragga (e-mail: TCeditor@stc.org).

Copyrights

The Society for Technical Communication requires that authors transfer copyrights to STC for articles appearing in Technical  Communication and grant STC permission to post the articles on Technical Communication Online for an indefinite period. STC will grant colleges, universities, and libraries the right to use the articles free of charge for educational purposes. 

Review Procedure

The review procedure is intended to be as much a learning experience for contributing authors as it is an evaluative process, with the reviewer’s role like that of a mentor instead of a gatekeeper or critic.  Technical Communication adopts the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers available at https://publicationethics.org/files/Peer%20review%20guidelines.pdf.

If you have questions or concerns about the reviews of your manuscript, please e-mail the editor at tceditor@stc.org.

Technical Communication uses the following 10-step procedure to assure consistency of manuscript reviews:

  1. The editor logs the manuscript and acknowledges its receipt by e-mail to the author(s) outlining the review process.
  1. The editor secures agreement from three experts with knowledge of the manuscript’s subject to serve as peer reviewers. While these reviewers are usually technical communicators and at least one is an active practitioner of technical communication, sometimes it is necessary to go outside the profession to find reviewers with the needed expertise in the subject.
  1. The editor sends a copy of the manuscript to each peer reviewer, along with a copy of these reviewer guidelines. Before sending the manuscript, the editor removes the name(s) of the author(s) of the manuscript to make sure the evaluation is anonymous and unbiased.
  1. Each peer reviewer evaluates the manuscript according to the criteria (see section 3), and each reviewer independently makes one of the following recommendations to the editor:
    • Accept
    • Accept with revisions
    • Revise and resubmit
    • Reject
  1. The reviewers send their recommendations, comments, and annotated copies of the manuscript (if applicable) to the editor by e-mail within 30 days of receipt.
  1. If reviewers recommend that the manuscript be revised or rejected, they provide suitable comments that explain the recommendation to the author(s). These comments do not need to be extensive but should be reasonably detailed and stated as positively as possible to help the author(s) make the changes needed for the manuscript to be accepted, or to help the author(s) understand why the manuscript’s subject or the treatment of it is not suitable for publication in Technical Communication. The comments should use sufficient examples to show that evidence from the manuscript has informed the reviewer’s evaluation. Reviewers may also suggest publication alternatives if they do not think that the manuscript is likely to be suitable for Technical Communication even in a revised form.
  1. The editor informs the author(s) of the reviewers’ recommendations. The editor may either attach the comments (with reviewers’ names deleted) or attach a separate evaluation of the manuscript, which conflates the reviewers’ comments. If the manuscript is being returned with a request for revision, the editor asks the author(s) to resubmit by a specified date, allowing approximately 60 days to return the manuscript.
  1. The editor informs each reviewer of the editorial decision. Without identifying the other reviewers, the editor provides a copy of the anonymous comments supplied to the author(s) and, if appropriate, copies of the manuscript with reviewer annotations. This communication allows the reviewers to examine all advice given to the author(s), note similarities and differences of opinion, and recognize variations in the evaluation of manuscripts.
  1. If revisions to a resubmitted manuscript are significant, the editor sends the manuscript back to the same peer reviewers for re-evaluation (beginning at Step 5).
  1. If a manuscript designated for revision is not resubmitted by the suggested date, the editor contacts the author(s) to determine its status.

Review Criteria

Reviewers may use the following list of criteria to guide their consideration of a manuscript. Reviewers may choose to answer each pertinent question on the list or may prefer to compose their review as a series of comments on the positive and negative traits of the manuscript.

Some reviewers may choose to submit an annotated version of the manuscript, with comments, suggestions for revision, and tracked changes. Reviewers who prefer this method will adjust their software settings so that their names or initials are not displayed with every comment.

Audience Awareness

    • Does the manuscript’s topic address the interests of the journal’s readers? (A manuscript’s topic need not appeal to a majority of the readership, but should not be so specialized that it appeals only to a narrow minority of readers.)
    • Does the manuscript recognize in its method of development that the journal’s largest audience segment is active technical communication practitioners?
    • Are the examples and illustrations appropriate to the audience and the topic?
    • Does the manuscript avoid jargon that is unfamiliar to most practitioners?
    • Does the manuscript consider the diversity of the journal’s international audience and avoid bias related to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or ability/disability?

Facts, Assertions, and Arguments

    • Is the manuscript factually accurate?
    • Are facts and opinions clearly stated and identified as such?
    • Are preliminary and experimental results differentiated from conclusions?
    • Are the manuscript’s assertions logical and clearly stated?
    • Are the arguments based on the merits of the ideas rather than the reputations of the proponents?

Originality and Use of Sources

    • Does the manuscript make an original contribution to the field of technical communication?
    • Does the manuscript consider and document previous authors’ work on the subject, including books, journal articles, conference proceedings, and electronic information sources?
    • Does the manuscript demonstrate a conscientious effort to be inclusive of new and underrepresented authors in its citation of previous work on the subject? (Authors could consult a bibliography such as MMU Scholar Bibliography by Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq: https://www.itchuaqiyaq.com/mmu-bibliography.)
    • If the manuscript is a bibliographic study, is it comprehensive in its coverage of previous work on the subject?
    • Does the manuscript handle its sources honestly and economically?
    • Does the manuscript cite the sources of all ideas that are not original?
    • Does the manuscript distinguish clearly between sources that represent opinions and those that are research-based?
    • Are summary and paraphrase used effectively in place of extensive quotation?
    • Are the sources generally available to and readable by informed practitioners?
    • In light of the manuscript’s purpose, are the number and nature of citations reasonable?

Research Methodology and Reporting

    • If the manuscript is research-based, does the methodology comply with generally accepted techniques?
    • If the research includes participants,
      • Does the manuscript describe participant selection criteria and efforts to recruit representative samples of participants in regard to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, and ability/disability?
      • Do the authors consider the biases in the participant group that has been recruited and how these biases might affect the study?
      • Do the authors address the challenges of generalizing this research to a wider population and make those contemplations explicit in their manuscript?
    • If the methodology is innovative or unusual, is this fact clearly acknowledged so readers can weigh this factor in evaluating the merits of the manuscript’s findings or ideas?
    • If the manuscript is research-based, are the results clearly reported and correctly interpreted?

Structure and Style

    • Is the manuscript logically organized?
    • Does the writing meet quality expectations for publication in Technical Communication?
    • Are the style and tone appropriate to the subject and audience, as well as to publication in a research journal?

Applicability to Practitioners and Ultimate Value

    • If theoretical or research-based, does the manuscript tie the theory or research results to practical strategies that readers can implement in their jobs?
    • If the manuscript is a case study, is it clearly applicable to technical communication professionals?
    • If the manuscript is a tutorial, is the process or procedure clearly described, and is it replicable by other practitioners?
    • Ultimately, is the manuscript sufficiently valuable to practitioners and other members of the Technical Communication audience to be published in STC’s research journal?