Propose a Special Issue

Propose a Special Issue

Special issues may be an effective way to draw attention to specific topics in the field of technical communication. Technical Communication aims to publish one or two special issues every year.  Experienced researchers and or practitioners are welcome to propose, organize, and guest edit special issues around topics of their interest and expertise.


Proposals for special issues can be submitted to the editor-in-chief (Dr. Sam Dragga) throughout the year. Proposals should include the following elements:

  • Autobiographical information about the guest editor(s), which highlights their connection to the proposed theme of the special issue (max. 200 words per guest editor).
  • A working title of the special issue.
  • A description of the special issue theme, including its aims and scope, and its practical and academic relevance (max. 1000 words).
  • A listing of specific topics that may be covered by the special issue.
  • An indication of the viability of the special issue, in terms of potential authors.
  • A tentative timeline.
  • Contact information of the guest editor(s).

Procedure for Proposing a Special Issue

After receiving a proposal for a special issue, the editor-in-chief will acknowledge receipt and send the proposal to the editorial advisory board for advice. On the basis of the recommendations given by the editorial advisory board, the editor-in-chief will decide on the special issue proposal. The final decision may also contain specific recommendations  for the special issue (e.g., specific topics to be included, authors that may be approached). The editor-in-chief and the guest editors decide on a suitable timeline for the special issue. The guest editors then prepare a call for papers, which will be posted on the Technical Communication Web site, and distributed to other relevant channels.

Procedure for Articles Submitted for a Special Issue

Articles in a special issue may be invited to openly submitted. The procedure consists of two steps. First, potential authors are encouraged to submit an article proposal (max. 400 words) to the guest editors. The article proposals are reviewed for their academic and practical relevance and their potential contribution to the special issue. Based on the reviews, a selection of potentially strong contributions is made. The authors of these proposals are invited to submit a full article for review. Second, the selected articles undergo the same process of peer review as the articles in regular journal issues.


Special issue of Technical Communication (November 2018)

Technical Communication and Election Technologies


Guest editors:
Godwin Agboka, University of Houston-Downtown
Isidore Dorpenyo, George Mason University

The push towards the democratization of countries, particularly when technologies influence electoral outcomes, must be properly scrutinized by technical communicators in a nonpartisan and rigorous manner. Several electoral events and activities, both within and outside the U.S., provide some grounds for technical communicators to contribute to conversations about what it means to organize clean, fair, credible, and incontrovertible elections in a technologically-driven era. Increasingly, electoral technologies have become scarily vulnerable to breakdown, malfunction, and hacking, raising several implications about electoral integrity.

Over the years, professional and technical communicators have effectively highlighted ways in which technologies either facilitate communication or affect society (Banks, 2005; Hayhoe & Grady, 2008; Sun, 2012), but little scholarship has looked at ways in which technologies (broadly defined to include paper ballots, voter registration, voter education materials, Internet technologies, scanners, ballot printing materials, user manuals and other technical documents used during elections) shape the conduct and/or outcomes of elections. Whitney (2013), for example, demonstrates how technical communicators can contribute to electoral issues when she critically studied the 2010 Citizens Clean Elections Voter Education Guide designed with the purpose of providing the Arizona voting public with the needed information about state elections. She concludes that technical communicators have a role in helping electorates to understand how personal political gains shape how information is communicated, including how technical communication constructs “a perceived identity of certain groups of people and influences the reactions that other groups have to them” (p. 451). More so, Dorpenyo’s (2016) work on biometric machines used in the 2012 Ghana elections also point to ways in which technical communicators have vital roles to play in technology adoption during elections, especially in unenfranchised sites.

Also, issues about technology and their deployment or use in elections raise important usability and social justice questions both for designers and users of such technologies, especially in unenfranchised cultural sites. Thus, for this special issue we ask: How do technologies advance or inhibit electoral integrity? What roles can technical communicators play in this process? Technical communicators have important roles to play in this conversation because of our long standing conversations on technology and social justice (Agboka, 2013; Jones, 2016a, 2016b; Rose, 2016), technology, race and access (Banks, 2005; Haas, 2012; Seigel, 2013), technology and human rights (Walton, 2016), and technology and ethics (Katz, 1992).

Some questions to consider for this special issue

  • What broad roles might technologies play in enhancing electoral integrity?
  • How do technical communication theories help us to think about or question broader electoral systems and institutions?
  • How can usability practices help us better understand and/or address issues of participation in election processes?
  • What roles do technologies play in enacting social justice for users during elections, especially in unenfranchised cultural sites?
  • What effect does perception of election technologies have on voter turnout?
  • How important is election staff’s understanding of technology maintaining the chain of custody and final counting of results?
  • How does our collective knowledge of technologies shape conversations about elections?
  • How does our collective knowledge of technologies help advance social justice for users of electoral technology?
  • What is the future of research in elections and technologies?
  • What perspectives do theories of localization present in the adoption and use of electoral technologies?
  • In what ways do technologies become a surveillance tool in elections? And, what are the likely challenges/complications of this surveillance?


Proposals should be developed into

  • Original research articles with specific applications to the practice of the field
  • Review articles of pertinent books and articles, synthesizing research and identifying key issues for further study
  • Case studies with implications for teaching and practice of technical communication

Submission procedures:

  • Cover page containing your name, institutional affiliation, and email address.
  • 400-word proposal
  • All submissions will be reviewed by at least two readers, whether you are submitting a research article, a review article or case study.
  • Submit via email to Godwin Agboka: or Isidore Dorpenyo:
  • Proposals should be sent as a .docx, .doc, or .rtf file attached to an email message with the subject line: “Technical communication and election technologies.”



  • 1 October 2017: Deadline for authors to submit 400-word proposals
  • 1 November 2017: Proposal acceptance notifications are emailed to authors
  • 15 February 2018: Authors submit first draft of manuscripts
  • 1 April 2018: Reviews sent to authors
  • 1 July 2018: Authors submit final manuscripts
  • 15 August 2018: Guest editor(s) submits final revised manuscripts and introduction for copyediting
  • 1 November 2018:  Issue published

Please email us if you would like to discuss proposal ideas.


Published Special Issues (since 2006)

Special Issue “Exchanging Research among Academics and Practitioners”
Guest editor: Michael J. Albers
Volume 63, issue 4 (2016)

Special Issue “Contexts of Technical Communication”
Guest editor: Kirk St.Amant
Volume 62, issue 4 (2015)

Special Issue “Technical Communication: How a Few Great Companies Get it Done”
Guest editor: Miles Kimball
Volume 62, issue 2 (2015)

Special issue “Sustainable Practices for Developing a Body of Knowledge”
Guest editor: Hillary Hart and Craig Baehr
Volume 60, issue 4 (2013)

Special issue “Professionalization of Technical Communication: Zeitgeist for Our Age
Guest editor: Nancy W. Coppola
Volume 58, issue 4 (2011) and volume 59, issue 1 (2012)

Special issue “Legal Issues in Global Contexts: Reconsidering Content in an Age of Globalization”
Guest editors: Kirk St.Amant and Martine Courant Rife
Volume  57, issue 3 (2010)

Special issue “Qualitative Research in Technical Communication”
Guest editor: James Conklin
Volume 55, issue 4 (2008)

Special issue “3D Virtual Worlds and Technical Communication: One More Tool in the Kit”
Guest editor: Sean D. Williams
Volume 55, issue 3 (2008)

Special issue “Acknowledging Complexity: Rethinking Program Review and Assessment in Technical Communication”
Guest editors: Kirk St.Amant and Cindy Nahrwold
Volume 54, issue 4 (2007)

Special section “Information Architecture”
Guest editors: Andrea L. Ames and Michelle Corbin
Volume 54, issue 1 (2007)

Special issue “Accessibility”
Guest editors: Gail Lippincott and Kathryn Riley
Volume 53, issue 1 (2006)