A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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404 File Not Found: Citing Unstable Web Sources   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Researchers, including students, must accommodate to the mutating character of hyperlinks on the World Wide Web. A small study of citations in three volumes of BCQ demonstrates the phenomenon of 'URL rot,' the disappearance of sites cited in the sample articles. Digital technology itself is now being used to create pockets of permanence, but with the understanding that preservation of content is only one ingredient in the mix of media and format migration. Databases like JSTOR offer digitally preserved copies of many scholarly journals. Online journals and search engines may offer their own archives. In general, researchers should cite digital articles in databases where possible and consider avoiding references to online journals with print editions.

Griffin, Frank. Business Communication Quarterly (2003). Articles>Research>Style Guides>Online


Aardvark et al.: Quality Journals and Gamesmanship in Management Studies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Publication in quality journals has become a major indicator of research performance in UK universities. This paper investigates the notion of `quality journal' and finds dizzying circularity in its definitions. Actually, what a quality journal is does not really matter: agreement that there are such things matters very much indeed. As so often happens with indicators of performance, the indicator has become the target. So, the challenge is to publish in quality journals, and the challenge rewards gamesmanship. Vested interests have become particularly skilful at the game, and at exercising the winners' prerogative of changing the rules. All but forgotten in the desperation to win the game is publication as a means of communicating research findings for the public benefit. The paper examines the situation in management studies, but the problem is much more widespread. It concludes that laughter is both the appropriate reaction to such farce, and also, perhaps, the stimulus to reform.

Macdonald, Stuart and Jacqueline Kam. Journal of Information Science (2007). Articles>Publishing>Management>Research


The Academic Eye: Informing Visually   (members only)

What does it mean to be literate in the digital age? For many of us brought up in the world of print, it means finding ways images can convey information and argument. As academics, it means we need to develop the eye for seeing shapes in data, helping students learn and use images ethically and effectively, and understanding the demands on our counterparts in industry to be communicators skilled in words and images.

Barker, Thomas. Intercom (2011). Articles>Academic>Research


Acting on User Research

User research offers a learning opportunity that can help you build an understanding of user behavior, but you must resolve discrepancies between research findings and your own beliefs.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2004). Articles>Usability>Research


The Added Value Features of Online Scholarly Journals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Online scholarly journals have become an important tool for the generation of knowledge and the distribution and access to research. The purpose of this article is to analyze the features of online scholarly journals and to determine whether they incorporate new Internet-enabled features and functions which help to meet the needs of the members of the scholarly community more effectively. Drawing on Taylor's concept of added value [1], the features of online scholarly journals were classified into the following types: features which enhance ease of use and facilitate access to data, features that provide selected information and thus reduce noise, features which improve quality, features which address specific user needs, and features which contribute to time or cost savings. The analysis revealed that, although some online journals operate in the same way as print journals, there are others which incorporate innovative features which are transforming the journal to make it a more effective tool for scholarly activity.

Luzón, María José. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Research>Publishing>Online


Amusing Titles in Scientific Journals and Article Citation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The present study examines whether the use of humor in scientific article titles is associated with the number of citations an article receives. Four judges rated the degree of amusement and pleasantness of titles of articles published over 10 years (from 1985 to 1994) in two of the most prestigious journals in psychology, Psychological Bulletinand Psychological Review. We then examined the association between the levels of amusement and pleasantness and the article’s monthly citation average. The results show that, while the pleasantness rating was weakly associated with the number of citations, articles with highly amusing titles (2 standard deviations above average) received fewer citations. The negative association between amusing titles and subsequent citations cannot be attributed to differences in the title length and pleasantness, number of authors, year of publication, and article type (regular article vs comment). These findings are discussed in the context of the importance of titles for signalling an article’s content.

Sagi, Itay and Eldad Yechiam. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Publishing>Research>Scientific Communication


Analysis, Plus Synthesis: Turning Data into Insights

In this article, I will outline an approach to gleaning insights from primary qualitative research data. This article is not a how-to for creating the design tools that are often the outputs of primary qualitative user research—such as personas, mental models, or user scenarios. Instead, it identifies an approach to generating overarching insights, regardless of the design tool you want to create.

Ellerby, Lindsay. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Interviewing>Research


The Application of Rhetorical Theory in Managerial Research: A Literature Review   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent management research imports rhetorical scholarship into the study of organizations. Although this cross-disciplinarity is heuristically promising, it presents significant challenges. This article interrogates management's use of rhetoric, contrasting it with communication studies. Five themes from management research identify how rhetoric is used as an organizational hermeneutic: The article demonstrates that management research conceptualizes rhetoric as a theory and as an action; as the substance that maintains and/or challenges organizational order; as being constitutive of individual and organizational identity; as a managerial strategy for persuading followers; and as a framework for narrative and rational organizational discourses. The authors argue that organizational researchers who study rhetoric characterize persuasive strategies as managers' most important actions.

Hartelius, E. Johanna and Larry D. Browning. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Research>Rhetoric


As We May Think

Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose.

Bush, Vannevar. Atlantic Monthly (1945). Articles>Collaboration>Research>History


Better Reporting of Randomized Trials in Biomedical Journal and Conference Abstracts   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Well reported research published in conference and journal abstracts is important as individuals reading these reports often base their initial assessment of a study based on information reported in the abstract. However, there is growing concern about the reliability and quality of information published in these reports. This article provides an overview of research evidence underpinning the need for better reporting of abstracts reported in conference proceedings and abstracts of journal articles; with a particular focus in the area of health care. Where available we highlight evidence which refers specifically to abstracts reporting randomized trials. We seek to identify current initiatives aimed at improving the reporting of these reports and recommend that an extension of the CONSORT Statement (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials), CONSORT for Abstracts, be developed. This checklist would include a list of essential items to be reported in any conference or journal abstract reporting the results of a randomized trial.

Hopewell, Sally, Anne Eisinga and Mike Clarke. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Research>Biomedical


Beyond Google: How Do Students Conduct Academic Research?

This paper reports findings from an exploratory study about how students majoring in humanities and social sciences use the Internet and library resources for research. Using student discussion groups, content analysis, and a student survey, our results suggest students may not be as reliant on public Internet sites as previous research has reported. Instead, students in our study used a hybrid approach for conducting course-related research. A majority of students leveraged both online and offline sources to overcome challenges with finding, selecting, and evaluating resources and gauging professors' expectations for quality research.

Head, Alison J. First Monday (2007). Articles>Education>Research>Online


Beyond Google: How Do Students Conduct Academic Research?

This paper reports findings from an exploratory study about how students majoring in humanities and social sciences use the Internet and library resources for research. Using student discussion groups, content analysis, and a student survey, our results suggest students may not be as reliant on public Internet sites as previous research has reported. Instead, students in our study used a hybrid approach for conducting course-related research. A majority of students leveraged both online and offline sources to overcome challenges with finding, selecting, and evaluating resources and gauging professors' expectations for quality research.

Head, Alison J. First Monday (2007). Articles>Education>Research>Online


Bite-Sized UX Research

Regardless of the cause for your company’s resource crunch, focus on getting small wins as often as possible throughout your involvement in a project. This is a fairly common piece of advice that crops up time and time again, but it’s very much worth repeating. And it applies just as readily to both situations where time is short and those when there’s just not enough of you to go around.

Baty, Steve. UXmatters (2008). Articles>User Experience>Research>Methods


Blasts from the Past

It does not matter if they were published 10 years ago or 100 years ago, old scientific papers may be more important than you think.

Marx, Werner and Manuel Cardona. Physics World (2004). Articles>Scientific Communication>History>Research


Bridging the North-South Divide in Scholarly Communication in Africa   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article takes a broad, general perspective of scholarly communication in Africa, using a simple systems model based on the Lasswell formula. The model identifies and analyses the following components: Creators, Contents, Mediation, Users and Infrastructure. It recognizes that these are to be studied in their cultural, political, economic, legal and ethical contexts. Taking each component in turn, a number of critical issues and problems relevant to the North-South/South-North divide are identified and some observations are made on the position and roles of libraries. The article presents a list of desiderata and emphasizes that scholarly communication has both digital and analogue dimensions. It is a complex phenomenon that needs to be addressed holistically.

Lor, Peter Johan. IFLA Journal (2007). Articles>Publishing>Research>Africa


Bridging User Research into Design

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss how to bridge user research into design.

Six, Janet M. UXmatters (2011). Articles>User Centered Design>Research


Bring the lnternet into Your Documents on Budget and on Time   (PDF)

Technical communicators can mine the Internet for fresh approaches and information to prepare documents with efficiency and minimal expense.

Murphy, Avon J. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Information Design>Research


Budgeting for Communication Research

To determine what amount to budget, discuss with an outside consultant the ballpark ranges for the types of research you want to conduct. Use the high-end numbers, plus estimated expenses, as your first budget recommendation. After the budget is approved, ask the consultant for a written, detailed proposal that will match the final amount that was allocated.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (1999). Articles>Management>Financial>Research


Building Web-Based Scholarly Communication Forums

Scholarly communication is the root of scientific progress. Research on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the scholarly communication system is being carried out worldwide, particularly with respect to electronic journals which can and should be constructed as communication forums. Refereeing new contributions for these forums is a major means for their quality control and for the acceptance of the new media. We have implemented a web-based electronic refereeing system for an electronic journal (RIS - Review of Information Science) whose many value-added features are described in detail. Faster communication and enhanced interactivity between referees, editors and authors will be achieved by the use of this Web based electronic refereeing system. In order to ease access and browsing, articles already published will be integrated and managed in a database-based open hypertext system, in this case in KHS (Konstanz hypertext system). Finally, we describe the advantage of a real time communication system for authors, referees, editors and the domain-specific public. Further research will focus at improving the communicative features of this preliminary web-based communication forum and at evaluating it from a user point of view.

Kuhlen, Rainer and Zhongdong Zhang. ISRDP in Digital Libraries (1997). Articles>Research>Community Building>Social Networking


Can Wikipedia Be Trusted?

The intention of this article is to open the readers eyes to the issues with trusting user edited content. Over time, the Wikipedia may balance out. Eventually, or possibly even now, user tests are being performed to see how much content is credible. Also, the academic communities could step up and decide unanimously that the Wikipedia is not a trusted body of information to use for research. Once this happens the Wikipedia will have to change the way information within their pages is handled to maintain existence.

Hall, Lawrence. Content Matters (2006). Articles>Research>Online>Wikis


Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

It's hard for clients to understand the true value of user experience research. As much as you'd like to tell your clients to go read The Elements of User Experience and call you back when they’re done, that won’t cut it in a professional services environment. David Sherwin creates a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each exercise.

Sherwin, David. List Apart, A (2009). Articles>Consulting>User Experience>Research


The CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication: A Retrospective Analysis   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article presents the history, purposes, outcomes, and significance of the CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication during its first five years. It analyzes the topical areas and research methods of the 34 dissertations nominated for the award from 1999 to 2003, as well as the evaluations of the judges. Methods of the nominated dissertations are interpretive (41%) and empirical (59%), but many dissertations combine methods. In the empirical category, qualitative methods (17) outnumber quantitative methods (3). The most frequent topical areas are workplace practice (8), rhetoric of the disciplines (7), and information design (6). Topics that are not widely investigated include issues of race and class and international communication.

Selber, Stuart A. Technical Communication Quarterly (2004). Articles>Research>TC>History


The Changing Nature of Commercial Research   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In this article, Nigel Spencer compares and contrasts his experience of delivering fee-based business information research from 1987 to 2008. Although the article is written from the perspective of the British Library priced research services, many points made could also apply to the changing role of the business information professional.

Spencer, Nigel. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Research>Business Communication>United Kingdom


Competitive Analysis: Are you Gathering Information or Intelligence?

Finding online information about your competitors is easy--The difficult part is finding meaning. When researching the competition, you can avoid pitfalls by seeking 'intelligence' instead of 'information.'

Janisch, Troy. Icon Interactive (2004). Articles>Research>Business Communication


Compliments and Criticisms in Book Reviews About Business Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Research suggests that book reviews in academic journals tend to be positive but that readers prefer book reviews that include negative and positive evaluation. In this study, the author examines 48 books reviews from three business communication journals to determine whether these reviews are mainly positive. She counts compliments and criticisms, analyzing their location and topics. She also analyzes the force of the criticisms and strategies that reviewers use to mitigate criticism.

Mackiewicz, Jo M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Writing>Publishing>Research



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