A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Longo, Bernadette

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An Approach for Applying Cultural Study Theory to Technical Writing Research   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

When the idea of culture is expanded to include institutional relationships extending beyond the walls of one organization, technical writing researchers can address relationships between our power/knowledge system and multiculturalism, postmodernism, gender, conflict, and ethics within professional communication. This article contrasts ideas of culture in social constructionist and cultural study research designs, addressing how each type of design impacts issues that can be analyzed in research studies. Implications for objectivity and validity in speculative cultural study research are also explored. Finally, since articulation of a coherent theoretical foundation is crucial to limiting a cultural study, this article suggests how technical writing can be constituted as an object of study according to five (of many possible) poststructural concepts: the object of inquiry as discursive, the object as practice within a cultural context, the object as practice within a historical context, the object as ordered by language, and the object in relationship with the one who studies it.

Longo, Bernadette. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Academic>Research>Cultural Theory>Technical Writing


Implementation of Medical Research Findings Through Insulin Protocols: Initial Findings from an Ongoing Study of Document Design and Visual Display   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Medical personnel in hospital intensive care units routinely rely on protocols to deliver some types of patient care. These protocol documents are developed by hospital physicians and staff to ensure that standards of care are followed. Thus, the protocol document becomes a _de facto_ standing order, standing in for the physician's judgment in routine situations. This article reports findings from Phase I of an ongoing study exploring how insulin protocols are designed and used in intensive care units to transfer medical research findings into patient care 'best practices.' We developed a taxonomy of document design elements and analyzed 29 insulin protocols to determine their use of these elements. We found that 93% of the protocols used tables to communicate procedures for measuring glucose levels and administering insulin. We further found that the protocols did not adhere well to principles for designing instructions and hypothesized that this finding reflected different purposes for instructions (training) and protocols (standardizing practice).

Longo, Bernadette, Craig Weinert and T. Kenny Fountain. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Document Design>Scientific Communication>Biomedical


Learning to Write: Learning about Sustainability   (peer-reviewed)

I had been involved with a program at Clemson to integrate laptop computers into the engineering curriculum. In this pilot project, I had taught first-year writing since 1998 to engineering and science majors using their own laptops in classrooms equipped with ethernet connections and a video projector. This proved to be a rich environment for sharing work and collaborating among ourselves. I wanted to see whether we could extend our collaborations to other Clemson classrooms. Mary Haque (a professor in Clemson University’s Horticulture Department) and I decided that my first-year composition classes could collaborate with her horticulture classes.

Longo, Bernadette. Kairos (2001). Articles>Education>Engineering>Writing


(Re)Constructing Arguments: Classical Rhetoric and Roman Engineering Reflected in Vitruvius' De Architectura   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Augustus is often described as the emperor who transformed Rome from a city of brick to a city of marble. When he returned victorious to Rome in BCE 29, Augustus embarked on a project to rebuild Rome with the splendor its new imperial status demanded. Despite the tranquility and prosperity enjoyed by most Romans during the Early Empire, many also felt a sense of loss. Much had changed in their social order at the end of the Republic. The nobility and the lower classes began to share more interests and Roman society took on a more egalitarian and commercial nature. Under Emperor Augustus, the function of rhetoric was stripped from legislative arenas and confined mainly to legal courts and ceremonial competitions. In the spirit of renewed patriotism and pragmatism, principles of rhetoric were also applied to writing about technical subjects, such as engineering and architecture. Both Vitruvius and Cicero used his writing to persuade Roman citizens to reclaim their heritage: of building arts in Vitruvius case; of philosophy and meaningful public oratory in Cicero s case.

Longo, Bernadette. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2000). Articles>Rhetoric>History>Italy


Toward an Informed Citizenry: Readability Formulas as Cultural Artifacts   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

After World War II, the United States government and citizenry were concerned with truth, propaganda, democracy, and national security as they entered the Cold War era. This was a time when technocrats, engineers, and scientists could lead our free-world government through the perils of our tense relationships with Russia, Red China, and Korea. In the early 1940s, Rudolf Flesch began developing what he termed a "scientific rhetoric" to help writers of functional documents more effectively communicate technical information to a general public. He came up with a readability formula to help writers evaluate whether their writing was effective and this readability formula has profoundly shaped notions of "clear writing" for the last 60 years. This article explores Flesch's development of this readability formula, placing his work in a historical context, as well as discussing how the readability formula fit into a larger project to make effective writing more of a science than an art.

Longo, Bernadette. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2004). Articles>Writing>Assessment>Formulas

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