A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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1.
#37487

Accessibility and Order: Crossing Borders in Child Abuse Forensic Reports   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Physicians write child abuse forensic reports for nonphysicians. We examined 73 forensic reports from a Canadian children's hospital for recurrent strategies geared toward making medical information accessible to nonmedical users; we also interviewed four report writers and five readers. These reports featured unique forensic inserts in addition to headings, lists, and parentheses, which are typical of physician letters for patients. We discuss implications of these strategies that must bridge the communities of medical, social, and legal practice.

Spafford, Marlee M., Catherine F. Schryer, Lorelei Lingard and Marcellina Mian. Technical Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Scientific Communication>Reports>Biomedical

2.
#37458

Agency and the Rhetoric of Medicine: Biomedical Brain Scans and the Ontology of Fibromyalgia   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent agency scholarship has provided compelling accounts of how individuals can strategically occupy authoritative positions, in order to instantiate change. This article explores the discursive mechanisms of this type of agency in the legitimization of disease. Drawing on ethnographic research, this article investigates how a non-human agent (brain scans) contributed to fibromyalgia's acceptance within the highly regulated discourses of western biomedicine.

Graham, S. Scott. Technical Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

3.
#25773

AMWA Position Statement on the Contributions of Medical Writers to Scientific Publications   (PDF)

AMWA formed a new task force in 2001 to develop a statement regarding AMWA’s position on the contributions of biomedical communicators to scientific publications.

Hamilton, C.W. and M.G. Royer. Hamilton House (2003). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

4.
#13839

"Aristotle's Pharmacy": The Medical Rhetoric of a Clinical Protocol in the Drug Development Process   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article analyzes the clinical protocol within the rhetorical framework of the drug development and approval process, identifying the constraints under which the protocol is written and the rhetorical form, argumentative strategies, and style needed to improve and teach the writing of this document.

Bell, Heather D., Kathleen A. Walch and Steven B. Katz. Technical Communication Quarterly (2000). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

5.
#29738

Assessing Information Needs of Diverse Users to Guide Web Design and Content Development   (PDF)

This paper presents a qualitative study of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's diverse users and their mental models regarding injury-related content. The study employed an innovative modified contextual inquiry method utilizing tailored, in-depth interviews with five distinct user groups. Included in this paper is a detailed description of the background, framework, and method used for this study. Analysis of the full results was still in process at the due date of this paper. The results will be in the presentation's slide set and available from the STC website www.stc.org.

Pettit Jones, Colleen and Susan J. Robinson. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Web Design>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

6.
#36929

Assessment of Slovene Secondary School Students' Attitudes to Biotechnology in Terms of Usefulness, Moral Acceptability and Risk Perception   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Quantitative and qualitative studies among 469 high school students of average age 17 years were conducted. The students’ attitudes to four practical applications of biotechnology were examined: genetically modified plants (Bt corn), genetically modified animals (salmon), and hemophilia germ line and somatic gene therapy. Each of the four applications was examined from three different viewpoints: usefulness, moral acceptability and risk perception. Bt corn production proved to be the most acceptable in terms of both usefulness and risk perception. Values for genetically modified salmon and germ line gene therapy were comparable, but much lower than those for the other two applications; this was true for both usefulness and moral acceptability. In addition, students found genetically modified salmon to be ethically much less acceptable than Bt corn. Significant gender differences were observed in the case of germ line gene therapy and genetically modified salmon.

Črne-Hladnik, Helena, Cirila Peklaj, Katarina Košmelj and Aleš Hladnik. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Eastern Europe

7.
#36931

Believing in Both Genetic Determinism and Behavioral Action: A Materialist Framework and Implications   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A disparity exists between studies reporting that genetics discourse produces deterministic or fatalistic responses and studies reporting that the majority of laypeople do not hold or adopt genetically deterministic views. This article reports data from an interview study (n = 50), and an interpretation of those data grounded in materialist understandings of discourse, that explains at least part of the disparity. The article employs a detailed reading of an illustrative transcript embedded in a quantitative content analysis to suggest that laypeople have incorporated two sets of public discourses—one that describes genetic causation and another that describes behavioral causation. These different discourse tracks are presumed to be encoded in different sets of neural networks in people’s minds. Consequently, each track can be articulated upon proper cueing, but the tracks are not related to each other to produce a discourse for speaking about gene—behavior interactions. Implications for the effects of this mode of instantiation of discourse in human individuals with regard to genes and behavior are discussed, as well as implications for message design.

Condit, Celeste M., Marita Gronnvoll, Jamie Landau, Lijiang Shen, Lanelle Wright and Tina M. Harris. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

8.
#32324

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

9.
#37011

Bias in the Exchange of Arguments: The Case of Scientists' Evaluation of Lay Viewpoints on GM Food   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Most perspectives on public participation share the notion that dialogues should be open, allowing participants to articulate and evaluate different views and knowledge claims. We hypothesize that participants' evaluation of claims may be biased because participants have a preference for a particular type or source of a claim. This would hamper an open dialogue. We tested the effect of three variables on scientists' evaluation of claims of the general public about GM food: the claim's favorability towards GM food, the phrasing, and the source of the claim. Results are based on a survey-experiment among 73 biotechnology-scientists. Biased processing occurred when scientists evaluated claims. Claims that were corresponding with the attitude of the scientists and that were phrased in a cognitive way were evaluated more positively than claims that were contrasting the attitude of the scientists and that were phrased in an affective way. Contrary to our expectation, scientists evaluated claims of the public more positively than claims of experts.

Cuppen, Eefje, Mattijs Hisschemöller and Cees Midden. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Assessment

10.
#34958

Can Two Established Information Models Explain the Information Behaviour of Visually Impaired People Seeking Health and Social Care Information?   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study provides a new and valuable insight into the information behaviour of visually impaired people, as well as testing the applicability of a specific and generic information model to the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information.

Beverley, C.A., P.A. Bath and R. Barber. Journal of Documentation (2007). Articles>Scientific Communication>Accessibility>Biomedical

11.
#37008

Catastrophe Discourse in Microbiology, Its Rhetorical Form and Political Function   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Discourses evoking an antibiotic apocalypse and a war on superbugs are emerging just at a time when so-called "catastrophe discourses" are undergoing critical and reflexive scrutiny in the context of global warming and climate change. This article combines insights from social science research into climate change discourses with applied metaphor research based on recent advances in cognitive linguistics, especially with relation to "discourse metaphors." It traces the emergence of a new apocalyptic discourse in microbiology and health care, examines its rhetorical and political function and discusses its advantages and disadvantages. It contains a reply by the author of the central discourse metaphor, "the post-antibiotic apocalypse," examined in the article.

Nerlich, Brigitte and Richard James. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Risk Communication

12.
#23624

Challenges for Technical Communicators in Bioinformatics   (PDF)

Bioinformatics, a specialized field in the area of biotechnology, has been a major growth market for the last decade. Generally, bioinformatics companies serve pharmaceutical and other life science research institutes by providing powerful computational solutions for the analysis, storage, and integration of molecular data. The project-oriented organizational structures, international environment, and interdisciplinary approaches that characterize bioinformatics companies provide a wealth of challenges and opportunities. Technical communicators who want to work in this field must be willing to apply strategies and techniques that enable them to streamline communication channels and write effective documentation.

Weirich, Margaret. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

13.
#38217

Communicating Ethically

As new advances in engineering have occurred in the past quarter century, new ethical issues have arisen, as we frequently see in health care technology. The health care industry can now keep many people alive for a longer period of time, and people who would have died twenty‑five years ago can now be treated. Premature infants, heart attack victims, and other individuals can now be treated with new devices that prolong life. But new possibilities also raise ethical questions about who should receive benefits, who should pay for them, and when is it ethical to prolong life. Should a person who is being kept alive on by a machine and who has no chance of being returned to a state of health be permitted to die? At what birth weight should a premature infant be treated with unusually expensive equipment? Learning how to deal with ethical issues will be an important part of your engineering career. This summary can only touch the surface of the issues that lie ahead.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Ethics

14.
#37437

Communicating Values, Valuing Community through Health-Care Websites: Midwifery's Online Ethos and Public Communication in Ontario   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Drawing on the rhetorical concept of ethos, this study explores the professional identities, health-care relationships, and forms of community constructed by two midwifery websites in Ontario. Rather than facilitating communal and dialogic modes of communication with the public, these websites enact primarily a unidirectional consumption model. This design structure both reflects and reinforces the complexities of midwifery's recent shift from being an explicitly alternative form of health care, to becoming part of the dominant health-care framework.

Spoel, Philippa. Technical Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Web Design>Biomedical

15.
#29632

Congratulations, You Have ADD!   (PDF)

The author describes his history after being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), including a brief discussion of what the disorder is, how he came to be diagnosed as having it, and how he has come to live in harmony with, and even embrace, ADD. Murray concludes by offering helpful hints for accommodating the disorder that have helped him lead a fulfilling and successful career in technical communications.

Murray, Mike. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

16.
#36691

Consultations of Stakeholders on the Roles of Research in Relation to Genetically Modified Plants in France   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article reports the first consultations on the roles of research in relation to genetically modified plants in France. We present a new attempt at facilitating discussion towards acceptable decisions and their results. This method consists of three steps: individual in-depth interviews of 77 French stakeholders, analysis of the interviews to identify elements that could help a constructive debate among participants, and two round-table discussions to present this analysis to stakeholders and foster discussions among them. The interviews exhibit a diversity of perceptions that are vaster than the pro or against points of view within the media. The problems raised during interviews deal with how discussions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are being done, how risks are taken into account, how the information is diffused, and how there is a minimal level of attention paid to social needs in GMOs' production. A series of problems more specific to the subject of the study discuss the weaknesses of the public research system. On the basis of these problems, 21 elements were identified that the stakeholders would like to see improved. One request seemed to be important for all types of stakeholders: “Raising the objectivity of the debate on GMOs.” Our facilitation exercise led to a set of innovative concrete proposals for the design of an effective national debate.

Ricroch, Agnès and Franck Jésus. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Research

17.
#36689

Consumer Attitudes and the Governance of Food Safety   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper reports the analysis of a recent study of public perception of food safety governance in Spain, using genetically modified (GM) foods as an indicator. The data make clear that Spanish food consumers are aware of their rights and role in the marketplace. They are critical of current regulatory decision making, which they perceive to be unduly influenced by certain social actors, such as industry. In contrast, consumers demand decisions to be based primarily on scientific opinion, as well as consumer preferences. They want authorities to facilitate informed purchasing decisions, and favor labeling of GM foods mostly on the grounds of their right to know. However, consumers' actual level of knowledge with respect to food technology and food safety remains low. There are several ambivalences as to the real impact of these attitudes on actual consumer behavior (specifically when it comes to organizing themselves or searching out background information).

Todt, Oliver, Emilio Muñoz, Marta González, Gloria Ponce and Betty Estévez. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Risk Communication

18.
#29111

Context-Driven: How is Traditional Chinese Medicine Labeling Developed?   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To promote intercultural understanding in medical communication, this article studies a regulation issued by the Chinese government to standardize traditional Chinese medicine labeling. Then the author claims that the traditional Chinese medicine labeling is medicine-focused. This feature has its roots in traditional Chinese philosophy of stressing the context while de-emphasizing individuals. The author examines a particular medicine label to support his claim that the medicine-focused feature draws patients' attention to the situations that cause disorders.

Ding, Daniel D. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2004). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Regulation

19.
#37100

Convincing the Public to Accept New Medical Guidelines

In a classic 1977 experiment, researchers asked experts to evaluate a technical manuscript. Except for the results section, all versions of the paper were identical. Reviewers not only gave the paper higher marks when it confirmed their previous views on a technical issue in their field, they were more apt to detect an inadvertent typo in the manuscript when the results contradicted their pre-existing beliefs. Studies have confirmed it again and again: We easily accept results we like and nitpick the evidence that we don’t.

Aschwanden, Christie. Miller-McCune (2010). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Technical Writing

20.
#13915

Debate-Creating vs. Accounting References in French Medical Journals   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article investigates the quantitative and qualitative evolution of debate-creating (DEB) vs. accounting (ACC) references in 90 French medical articles published between 1810 and 1995. My findings suggest that nineteenth-century French academic writing tends to be more polemical oroppositional than cooperative by contrast to its twentieth-century counterpart. These results suggest that the debate-creating vs. accounting opposition could be a rhetorical universal of referential behavior in medical literature.

Salager-Meyer, Francoise. Technical Communication Quarterly (2000). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

21.
#36918

Designer Babies on Tap? Medical Students' Attitudes to Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper describes two studies about the determinants of attitudes to pre-implantation genetic screening in a multicultural sample of medical students from the United States. Sample sizes were 292 in study 1 and 1464 in study 2. Attitudes were of an undifferentiated nature, but respondents did make a major distinction between use for disease prevention and use for enhancement. No strong distinctions were made between embryo selection and germ line gene manipulations, and between somatic gene therapy and germ line gene manipulations. Religiosity was negatively associated with acceptance of “designer baby” technology for Christians and Muslims but not Hindus. However, the strongest and most consistent influence was an apparently moralistic stance against active and aggressive interference with natural processes in general. Trust in individuals and institutions was unrelated to acceptance of the technology, indicating that fear of abuse by irresponsible individuals and corporations is not an important determinant of opposition.

Meisenberg, Gerhard. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

22.
#20191

Distinguishing Characteristics of Medical Writing   (PDF)

Medical writers and editors need to understand medicine as a discipline, its nature as a science, its humanitarian rather than commercial goal of alleviating pain and suffering, the sensitive nature of some subjects, and the reduced or distorted cognitive abilities of some patients. They need to understand medical terminology, the nature of truth, the scientific method, the primary research paper, numbers, probability, risk, statistical significance, and some specific language issues.

Zoll, Mary. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

23.
#36928

Embryonic Stem Cell: A Climax in the Reign of the Brazilian Media   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In the last few years, embryonic stem cell research has been widely debated in Brazil and a "star" in the national media. Because of the notoriety of the issue, the media have sometimes been criticized for oversimplification, exaggeration and distortion. In this context, we analyzed the media during an important time: in 2008, the Federal Supreme Court held historical hearings to decide whether Brazilian scientists could continue using embryonic stem cells. First, we focused on letters sent by readers to one of the most popular newspapers, O Globo. Second, we analyzed the Brazilian news coverage of embryonic stem cells during a crucial week in the public debate. At the end of May 2008, under pressure from Brazilian media and society, the Ministers of the Supreme Court approved research using embryonic stem cells.

Jurberg, Claudia, Marina Verjovsky, Gabriel de Oliveira Cardoso Machado and Ottília R. Affonso-Mitidieri. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Brazil

24.
#21004

Empirical Studies Assessing the Quality of Health Information for Consumers on the World Wide Web: A Systematic Review

The quality of consumer health information on the World Wide Web is an important issue for medicine, but to date no systematic and comprehensive synthesis of the methods and evidence has been performed.

Eysenbach, Gunther, John Powell, Oliver Kuss and Eun-Ryoung Sa. JAMA (2002). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Online

25.
#34843

Ethical or Unethical Persuasion? The Rhetoric of Offers to Participate in Clinical Trials   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Based on a sample of 22 oncology encounters, this article presents a discourse analysis of positive, neutral, or negative valence in the presentation of three elements of informed consent—purpose, benefits, and risks—in offers to participate in clinical trials. It is found that physicians regularly present these key elements of consent with a positive valence, perhaps blurring the distinction between clinical care and clinical research in trial offers. The authors argue that the rhetoric of trial offers constructs and reflects the complex relationships of two competing ethical frameworks—contemporary bioethics and professional medical ethics—both aimed at governing the discourse of trial offers. The authors consider the status of ethical or unethical persuasion within each framework, proposing what is called the best-option principle as the ethical principle governing trial offers within professional medical ethics.

Barton, Ellen and Susan Eggly. Written Communication (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Ethics

 
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