A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Journal of Business and Technical Communication

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1.
#31675

Action Research and Wicked Environmental Problems: Exploring Appropriate Roles for Researchers in Professional Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The authors report on a 3-year action-research project designed to facilitate public involvement in the planned dredging of a canal and subsequent disposal of the dredged sediments. Their study reveals ways that community members struggle to define the problem and work together as they gather, share, and understand data relevant to that problem. The authors argue that the primary goal of action research related to environmental risk should be to identify and support the strategies used by community members rather than to educate the public. The authors maintain that this approach must be supported by a thorough investigation of basic rhetorical issues (audience, genre, stases, invention), and they illustrate how they used this approach in their study.

Blythe, Stuart, Jeffrey T. Grabill and Kirk Riley. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Risk Communication>Community Building>Environmental

2.
#37428

Activity Theory, Speech Acts, and the ‘‘Doctrine of Infelicity’’: Connecting Language and Technology in Globally Networked Learning Environments   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article draws on activity theory, politics of the artifact, and speech act theory to analyze how language practices and technology interplay in establishing the social relationships necessary for globally networked teams. Specifically, it uses activity theory to examine how linguistic infelicities and the politics of communication technologies interplay in virtual meetings, thereby demonstrating the importance of grounding professional communication instruction in social as well as technical effectiveness. That is, students must learn not only how to communicate technical concepts clearly and concisely and recognize cultural differences but also how to use language and choose media in ways that produce the social conditions necessary for effective collaboration in globally networked environments. The article analyzes two case studies—a workplace and a classroom—that illustrate how the mediating functions of language and the politics of technology intersect as mediating tools in globally networked activity systems. It then traces the implications of that intersection for professional communication theory and pedagogy.

McNair, Lisa D. and Marie C. Paretti. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Education>International>Activity Theory

3.
#30163

After Enron: Integrating Ethics into the Professional Communication Curriculum   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent scandals in the business community have alerted professional writing teachers to the importance of highlighting ethics in the curriculum. From former experiences in teaching courses emphasizing ethics, the authors have adapted the curriculum to include a limited discussion of ethical approaches and terms and assigned group writing projects that consider the effects of business on the broader community. As a result of the integration of this ethical component into the entire course, students learn major ethical approaches; gain a vocabulary of ethical terms they can apply in the business world; interrogate the larger questions of business and its interactions with the local, national, and international community; and engage in the kind of dialectical discussions that require critical thinking.

Kienzler, Donna S. and Carol David. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2003). Articles>Education>Ethics

4.
#24518

All Business Students Need to Know the Same Things! The Non-Culture-Specific Nature of Communication Needs   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article challenges the conventional approach to cross-cultural communication teaching that instructs students to adapt their communication styles to different cultures by providing them with details about the particular practices of these cultures. It argues for an approach that focuses on common principles of effective communication by pointing out some limitations of the current culture-specific approach and presenting a pilot study that indicates the commonality of communication needs. It suggests some ways to find a different approach for studying international communication and shows that some current research is, in fact, moving in that direction.

Goby, Valerie Priscilla. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Business Communication>International

5.
#24528

"And Then She Said": Office Stories and What They Tell Us about Gender in the Workplace   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article calls for a rhetorical perspective on the relationship of gender, communication,and power in the workplace. In doing so, the author uses narrative in two ways.First, narratives gathered in an ethnographic study of an actual workplace, a plasticsmanufacturer, are used as a primary source of data, and second, the findings of this studyare presented by telling the story of two women in this workplace. Arguing that genderin the workplace, like all social identities, is locally constructed through the micro practicesof everyday life, the author questions some of the prevailing assumptions about genderat work and cautions professional communication teachers, researchers, and practitionersagainst unintentionally perpetuating global, decontextualized assumptionsabout gender and language, and their relationship to the distribution and exercise of power at work.

Weiland Herrick, Jeanne. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Collaboration>Workplace>Gender

6.
#39135

Apparent Feminism as a Methodology for Technical Communication and Rhetoric   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article introduces apparent feminism, which is a new approach urgently required by modern technical rhetorics. Apparent feminism provides a new kind of response that addresses current political trends that render misogyny unapparent, the ubiquity of uncritically negative responses to the term feminism, and a decline in centralized feminist work in technical communication. More specifically, it suggests that the manifestation of these trends in technical spheres requires intervention into notions of objectivity and the regimes of truth they support. Apparent feminism is a methodology that seeks to recognize and make apparent the urgent and sometimes hidden exigencies for feminist critique of contemporary politics and technical rhetorics. It encourages a response to social justice exigencies, invites participation from allies who do not explicitly identify as feminist but do work that complements feminist goals, and makes apparent the ways in which efficient work actually depends on the existence and input of diverse audiences.

Frost, Erin A. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2016). Articles>Rhetoric>TC>Gender

7.
#36243

Assertions of Expertise in Online Product Reviews   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In online consumer reviews on Web sites such as Epinions, laypeople write and post their evaluations of technical products. But how do they get readers to take their opinions seriously? One way that online reviewers establish credibility is to assert expertise. This article describes 10 types of assertions that online reviewers used (along with the three broader categories of these types), explaining the method used to test the types for reliability. This testing revealed that the types are reliable. This study lays the groundwork for understanding how reviewers construct expertise and, therefore, credibility and for gauging readers' perceptions of reviews that contain these assertions.

Mackiewicz, Jo M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Writing>Technology>Online

8.
#30698

Assessing a Hybrid Format   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

As college instructors endeavor to integrate technology into their classrooms, the crucial question is, 'How does this integration affect learning?' This article reports an assessment of a series of online modules the author designed and piloted for a business communication course that she presented in a hybrid format (a combination of computer classroom sessions and independent online work). The modules allowed the author to use classroom time for observation of and individualized attention to the composing process. Although anecdotal evidence suggested that this system was highly effective, other assessment tools provided varying results. An anonymous survey of the students who took this course confirmed that the modules were effective in teaching important concepts; however, a blind review of student work produced mixed results.

Katz, Susan M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online

9.
#38424

Awareness Versus Production: Probing Students’ Antecedent Genre Knowledge

This article explores the role of students’ prior, or antecedent, genre knowledge in relation to their developing disciplinary genre competence by drawing on an illustrative example of an engineering genre-competence assessment. The initial outcomes of this diagnostic assessment suggest that students’ ability to successfully identify and characterize rhetorical and textual features of a genre does not guarantee their successful writing performance in the genre. Although previous active participation in genre production (writing) seems to have a defining influence on students’ ability to write in the genre, such participation appears to be a necessary but insufficient precondition for genre-competence development. The authors discuss the usefulness of probing student antecedent genre knowledge early in communication courses as a potential source for macrolevel curriculum decisions and microlevel pedagogical adjustments in course design, and they propose directions for future research.

Artemeva, Natasha and Fox, Janna. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2011). Articles>Education>Grammar

10.
#24534

Beyond Internationalization: Multicultural Education in the Professional Writing Contact Zone   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To bridge the gap between composition and professional communication studies, we should add multiculturalism to the widely accepted international perspective in professional communication instruction, thus transforming the classroom into a contact zone (Pratt). The practical necessity of intercultural communication in a global marketplace necessitates internationalization. The international perspective, accounting for the heterogeneity of the technical communication audience, focuses on audience analysis and leads us to encourage students to learn about the multiple, cultural layers of audience. A multicultural perspective, however, can teach students of professional communication about the complex relationship between language and ideology and the underlying forces that shape and reflect the ways we use language. Multiculturalism's critical component provides insights into the structures and ideologies of domination/subordination and provides students with the linguistic, intellectual, and moral tools for resisting fear and prejudices. Likewise, the international perspective in professional communication can inform issues of audience analysis in composition.

Grobman, Laurie. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing

11.
#30210

Boundary Objects as Rhetorical Exigence: Knowledge Mapping and Interdisciplinary Cooperation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article uses qualitative material gathered at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to construct a model of the rhetorical activity that occurs at the boundaries between diverse communities of practice working on complex sociotechnical systems. The authors reinterpret the notion of the boundary object current in science studies as a rhetorical construct that can foster cooperation and communication among the diverse members of heterogeneous working groups. The knowledge maps constructed by team members at LANL in their work on technical systems are boundary objects that can replace the demarcation exigence that so often leads to agonistic rhetorical boundary work with an integrative exigence. The integrative exigence realized by the boundary object of the knowledge map can help create a temporary trading zone characterized by rhetorical relations of symmetry and mutual understanding. In such cases, boundary work can become an effort involving integration and understanding rather than contest, controversy, and demarcation.

Wilson, Greg and Carl G. Herndl. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Scientific Communication>Collaboration>Rhetoric

12.
#38108

Bringing Social Media to the Writing Classroom: Classroom Salon   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article introduces a new IText technology called Classroom Salon. The goal of Classroom Salon is to bring some of the benefits of social media—the expression of personal identity and community—to writing classrooms. It provides Facebook-like features to writing classes, where students can form social networks as annotators within the drafts of their peers. The authors discuss how the technology seeks to capture qualities of historical salons, which also built communities around texts. They also discuss the central features of the Classroom Salon system, how the system changes the dynamics of the writing classroom, current efforts to evaluate it, and future directions.

Kaufer, David S., Ananda Gunawardena, Aaron Tan and Alexander Cheek. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2011). Articles>Education>Social Networking>Collaboration

13.
#29541

Business Communication Needs: A Multicultural Perspective   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

How should we teach international business communication? What role can multiculturalism play in the business communication classroom? Can we identify a set of business communication requirements that are valid across different cultures? This article enters this discussion by presenting a small empirical study of the business communication needs expressed by postgraduate students in a North Cyprus university and comparing it to similar studies conducted in the United States and Singapore. The findings reveal some interesting correspondences between the needs expressed by students in these different countries. In addition, the multicultural environment of the North Cyprus university studied suggests that multicultural interaction increases students' sensitivity to the need for a nonethnocentric approach to international communication. The findings also indicate that respondents in multicultural settings may be more inclined to engage in groupthink because of their heightened awareness of cultural differences and their wish to avoid conflict.

Goby, Valerie Priscilla. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Business Communication>International

14.
#34883

Business Communication Needs: A Multicultural Perspective   (peer-reviewed)

How should we teach international business communication? What role can multiculturalism play in the business communication classroom? Can we identify a set of business communication requirements that are valid across different cultures? This article enters this discussion by presenting a small empirical study of the business communication needs expressed by postgraduate students in a North Cyprus university and comparing it to similar studies conducted in the United States and Singapore. The findings reveal some interesting correspondences between the needs expressed by students in these different countries. In addition, the multicultural environment of the North Cyprus university studied suggests that multicultural interaction increases students' sensitivity to the need for a nonethnocentric approach to international communication. The findings also indicate that respondents in multicultural settings may be more inclined to engage in groupthink because of their heightened awareness of cultural differences and their wish to avoid conflict.

Goby, Valerie Priscilla. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>Business Communication>International

15.
#36408

The Case Against Defining Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Ongoing attempts to define technical writing are inevitably confounded by problems caused by an excessively broad focus, which obscures the basis and usefulness of the definition, or by an excessively narrow focus, which arbitrarily-and sometimes oddly-relegates samples of writing as in or out of the realm of technical writing. Technical writers have been doing their jobs for far too long without a definition to be satisfied with a one- or two-sentence catch-all definition, and such a definition may result in dividing technical writing into two (or more) cultures.

Allen, Jo. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1990). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Taxonomy

16.
#30697

Review: CEO-Speak: The Language of Corporate Leadership   (members only)

The Language of Corporate Leadership is a study of the written discourse of CEOs that is found in annual reports, corporate Web sites, congressional testimonies, and employee newsletters. The book contains 10 case studies of CEOs' writings from past and present megacorporations, including Enron, General Electric, Microsoft, Disney, and AOL. The organizations covered in the book represent both new and old economies and include two Canadian companies and a public-sector company. The authors, Joel Amernic and Russell Craig, are accounting and business professors and appropriately focus on accounting and financial reporting aspects of CEOs' written discourse.

Dave, Anish M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Reviews>Business Communication>Language

17.
#24506

The Collaborative Construction of a Management Report in a Municipal Community of Practice: Text and Context, Genre and Learning   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Drawing on rhetorical genre studies and recent work in activity system theory, this study focuses on the collaborative development of a new written form, a municipal plan for protecting and managing natural areas. The author advances a twofold claim: (a) that the written plan is developed in the absence of a stable textual model and (b) that the text, as part of the context, functions, in turn, as a mediational tool for solving the rhetorical problem of audience resistance. Findings show that as participants reconfigure the project into successive cycles of activity, they create corresponding zones of proximal development. This study contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of the text-context relationship and to recent elaborations of genre as an activity system that help explain the relationship between genre and learning.

Wegner, Diana. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2004). Articles>Collaboration>Environmental>Government

18.
#24563

A Comment on Greg Wilson's "Technical Communication and Late Capitalism: Considering a Postmodern Technical Communication Pedagogy"   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

We find Wilson's argument compelling insofar as it emphasizes the importance of technical communication pedagogies that are informed by changing workplace conditions.

Fox, Catherine and David Fisher. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2001). Articles>Education

19.
#34921

Commentary: Reflections on Field Research and Professional Practice   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Borrowing from the ethnographic genre that Van Maanen (1988) called the confessional tale, this commentary reflects on the political, ethical, and professional concerns that arise when critical intellectuals work in a government installation that maintains the nation’s nuclear stockpile. The authors suggest that the future is, as Haraway (1997) argued, ineluctably technological and that the best way to engage this cultural formation is from within, eschewing the easy politics of the science wars and articulating critical projects with the hard work of science. The modernist ideal of unconflicted ideological positions and research—stories of good guys and bad guys—is a disabling illusion. Practicing rhetoricians face a kind of "worldliness" that Hall (1989) described as a necessary counterpart to the "clean air" of theory. The authors invite their colleagues to join them in grappling with political and ethical analyses in a world of impure identity in which knowledge and power circulate promiscuously.

Herndl, Carl G. and Greg Wilson. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Technology>Ethnographies

20.
#29540

Comments on Lab Reports by Mechanical Engineering Teaching Assistants: Typical Practices and Effects of Using a Grading Rubric   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Many engineering undergraduates receive their first and perhaps most intensive exposure to engineering communication through writing lab reports in lab courses taught by graduate teaching assistants (TAs). Most of the TAs' teaching of writing happens through their comments on students' lab reports. Technical writing faculty need to be aware of TAs' response practices so they can build on or counteract that instruction as needed. This study examines the response practices of two TAs and the ways the practices shifted after the TAs began using a grading rubric. The analysis reveals distinct patterns in focus and mode, some reflecting best practices and some not. It also indicates encouraging changes after the TAs started using the grading rubric. The TAs' marginalia became more content focused and specific and, perhaps most important, less authoritative and more likely to reflect a coaching mode. The article concludes with implications for technical writing courses.

Smith Taylor, Summer. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>TC>Engineering

21.
#34882

Comments on Lab Reports by Mechanical Engineering Teaching Assistants: Typical Practices and Effects of Using a Grading Rubric   (peer-reviewed)

Many engineering undergraduates receive their first and perhaps most intensive exposure to engineering communication through writing lab reports in lab courses taught by graduate teaching assistants (TAs). Most of the TAs' teaching of writing happens through their comments on students' lab reports. Technical writing faculty need to be aware of TAs' response practices so they can build on or counteract that instruction as needed. This study examines the response practices of two TAs and the ways the practices shifted after the TAs began using a grading rubric. The analysis reveals distinct patterns in focus and mode, some reflecting best practices and some not. It also indicates encouraging changes after the TAs started using the grading rubric. The TAs' marginalia became more content focused and specific and, perhaps most important, less authoritative and more likely to reflect a coaching mode. The article concludes with implications for technical writing courses.

Smith Taylor, Summer. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>Engineering>Reports

22.
#34920

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

23.
#38110

Contextualizing Experiences: Tracing the Relationships Between People and Technologies in the Social Web   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article uses both actor network theory (ANT) and activity theory to trace and analyze the ways in which both Twitter and third-party applications support the development and maintenance of meaningful contexts for Twitter participants. After situating context within the notion of a ‘‘fire space’’, the authors use ANT to trace the actors that support finding and moving information. Then they analyze the ‘‘prescriptions’’ of each application using the activity-theory distinction between actions and operations. Finally, they combine an activity-theory analysis with heuristics derived from the concept of ‘‘findability’’ in order to explore design implications for Social Web applications.

Potts, Liza and Dave Jones. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2011). Articles>Web Design>Assessment

24.
#36244

Convergence in the Rhetorical Pattern of Directness and Indirectness in Chinese and U.S. Business Letters   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article examines rhetorical patterns in claim letters from two universities, one in China and one in the United States, to see whether these patterns are convergent. A genre-based textual analysis of the claim letters, written by two different cultural groups of participants, found that both groups of letters display a similar rhetorical preference for directness and indirectness. The author explores how local contextual factors have contributed to these groups of participants’ preference for similar rhetorical patterns and calls for the integration of contextual factors in intercultural rhetoric research, practice, and pedagogy.

Wang, Junhua. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>China

25.
#37431

Creating Procedural Discourse and Knowledge for Software Users: Beyond Translation and Transmission   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Although most theorists agree that discourse creates meaning, they have not adequately described how this process emerges within the creation of procedural knowledge. This article explores how technical communicators in diverse settings based discourse decisions on their knowledge of (a) users, (b) organizational image and constraints, (c) software structure and features, and (d) genre conventions in order to create communication artifacts designed to help users develop procedural knowledge. The transformations in which they engaged indicated that these technical communicators were skilled in forming images in these four areas and then using these images as they created meaning in procedural discourse. In this process, they moved beyond merely translating or transmitting technical knowledge.

Rush Hovde, Marjorie. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric>Theory

 
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