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New essays in technical and scientific communication research theory practice

Martin's Bibliography of Business and Technical Communication. An extensively annotated bibliography of 376 items divided into sections on research and history, theory and rhetoric, profession and curriculum, genre studies, technology and visual theory, and interdisciplinary connections, each with several subcategories.

Includes complete contact information for journals, professional associations, conferences, and Internet discussion groups, as well as an author index and a subject index. John Brockmann, and Carolyn R. New Essays in Technical and Scientific Communication: Twelve essays take a serious scholarly approach to empirical research, theory, pedagogy, and historical study in the field of technical communication.


Charles Bazerman and James Paradis, eds. Two case studies of classroom-workplace collaborations in which students solved workplace problems as part of an academic course requirement demonstrate how such collaborations help in the teaching of professional genres. Students in a 300-level class of undergraduates only and students in a 400-level class of both undergraduate and graduate students completed projects that were provided by professionals in industry or academia.

The results suggest that classroom-workplace collaborations may have several benefits. The collaborations can prove valuable to the students because they expose them to workplace activities and cultures, introduce them to the genres associated with those activities and cultures, and provide occasion for reflection and application of students' classroom and theoretical knowledge.

Nancy Roundy Blyler, "Theory and Curriculum: Fourteen essays examine the ways that the social paradigm in the study of writing and rhetoric can contribute to an understanding of professional communication.

Implications for the Professional Communication Classroom. The Case Method in Technical Communication: Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, 1984. The case method holds that writing is best learned by performing in situations that specify data, characters, politics, and a writer's role.

This collection offers seven essays on using and generating cases, an annotated bibliography on the case method in communication, eight cases for writing, and two cases for graphics. John Brockmann, "What Is a Case? Job Status as Reflected in Written Text" [ 584 ]. Whether distortions in presenting data in graphic form occur inadvertently, through guile, or because of software defaults, the increased use of graphing software requires communicators to be more vigilant about distortions.

Seven types of distortion have been well-documented: The need for technical writing instruction grew in the latter part of the nineteenth century in the United States as engineering education grew and classical education shrank.

However, no courses in technical writing were offered before 1900, reflecting the hope that freshman composition would suffice. It did not, as complaints in professional journals about nearly illiterate engineers attest. The first technical writing textbook, in 1908, concerned usage for professionals. The 1911 textbook by Samuel Chandler Earle is the first genuine attempt to address the needs of an advanced undergraduate technical-writing course.

It condemned the "two cultures" split, chastising English teachers for regarding engineers as philistines. Earle used the modes of discourse as his pedagogical model. By 1920, though, books using technical-writing formats began to appear, along with a wave of books that attempted to humanize the engineering student by combining literature with writing instruction. World War II dramatically increased the need for technical-writing instruction: Because knowledge depends on interpretation that is constrained by communal values see Winsor, "The Construction of Knowledge in Organizations" [ 577 ]scholars of professional writing need to develop an understanding of how discourse is framed and interpreted in organizations.

Rhetorical categories can help reveal both textual and contextual elements in interpretive frames. Such categories are not technical labels but indicators of situations, disciplines, and forms that operate in particular contexts. Three rhetorical categories that identify group values and their effect on interpretation appear to have theoretical and empirical validity.

The first, engineering writing, responds to the professional values of scientific objectivity, professional judgment, and corporate interests. The second, administrative writing, reflects decision-making authority and promotes institutional identity. Defining the characteristics of these types more precisely can help describe writing in ways that are more telling and more usable for those who teach professional writing.

  1. Theory, Practice, and Program Design. Rose, "Domesticating English Studies.
  2. The Condition of Post modernity.
  3. U of Minnesota P, 1994. Identifying the journal these serials call on for background and support also demonstrates the diversity of the technical communication discipline.
  4. Rather than introducing students to the field of technical communication through an historical survey or through the conventional topics, this framework, geared toward a standard entry-level course in technical communication, organizes the field's modes of analysis in this case, rhetorical, spatial, empirical, and critical modes into three categories.
  5. Gabel, Peter and Duncan Kennedy.

The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations. A review of research on the ethics of visual communication reveals that the definition of ethics is almost always associated with deception and distortion.

While it is important to incorporate visuals with honesty and accuracy, technical communicators should also expand their understanding of the ethics new essays in technical and scientific communication research theory practice visual communication and develop techniques that bring humanity as well as honesty to technical illustrations.

Too often, particularly in writing that reports human fatalities, visual images objectify and dehumanize people for purposes of statistical manipulation. However, using pictographs or superimposing bar graphs and line graphs on pictures or drawings of human subjects are two possible ways to humanize the visual display of information.

Rama, and Terrance M. In a project to improve communication skills for accounting majors in an accounting information systems course, faculty in accounting and technical communication collaborated to determine the precise discipline-specific forms of communication appropriate for the course and ways to make communication instruction integral to the curriculum.

In accounting, as in many technical fields, discourse forms have not been well described. Where discipline-specific communication texts exist, their use is impeded by the mismatch between textbook goals and course goals.

In the present project, collaborators first adopted the quality measure of "fitness for use" in place of traditional measures such as readability. This measure proved applicable to both accounting problem-solving and writing, and was easy to explain to students. A small set of specific skills was then targeted: Over several semesters, a very successful pedagogy developed. Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, 1992.

Beginning teachers of technical writing and more experienced teachers looking for new ideas can learn much from a book that not only presents materials and methods for teaching the course but also speaks frankly about the career path of such teachers in the academy. In twenty-one chapters, Harris defines technical writing, describes programs and textbooks, and tells how to work within an indifferent English department, design a course, teach special forms proposals, correspondence, term papers, graphicsgrade papers, and get promoted.

Huckin, "Technical Writing and Community Service" [ 701 ]. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. The Core Competencies of Technical Communication.

Writing is the core technology that all information technology systems seek to leverage; by extension, then, technical communication plays a central role in all information technology systems. In the development of information technology, technical communicators deal with two critical issues: Technical communicators in both the workplace and the academy, however, can take on an even more pivotal role through the construction of theories about their work that expand the core expertise by raising new questions, researching new possibilities, and inventing new information technologies that build on their expertise and that help shape policy.

State University of New York Press, 1998. However, the end of technology should be refigured in terms of the user: The user as citizen produces and participates, rather than just consuming. Graduate education in technical communication should offer an expansive view of the field.

  • Charles Bazerman and James Paradis, eds;
  • Nancy Roundy Blyler, "Theory and Curriculum;
  • Implications for the Professional Communication Classroom;
  • Students in technical writing classes are often surprised to hear that people in business and industry routinely write more than ten pages a week and often much more;
  • In the professional roles section are essays on technical writing, by Roger Grice; technical editing, by Elizabeth Turpin and Judith Gunn Bronson; and visual communication, by Kenneth Rainey.

One way to achieve that view is through a three-dimensional framework that places the multiple and varied approaches to technical communication into one coherent structure. Rather than introducing students to the field of technical communication through an historical survey or through the conventional topics, this framework, geared toward a standard entry-level course in technical communication, organizes the field's modes of analysis in this case, rhetorical, spatial, empirical, and critical modes into three categories: Such an arrangement highlights and encompasses the diversity of the discipline, and can also provide a space in which the discipline can grow.

A sample syllabus is included. Winner of NCTE award in technical communication.


Classical Rhetoric, Technology, and the Holocaust. The ethos of expediency, objectivity, logic, and narrow focus that characterizes technical writing and deliberative rhetoric can become an ethical imperative.

This ethos, adopted by the Nazi regime and combined with science and technology, helped create a "moral" basis for Nazi culture, an ethos of the society as a whole. The Holocaust is not an aberration, a breach in the standard of virtue, but a result, in part, of the ethic of expediency.

Expediency in deliberative rhetoric traces back to Aristotle, for whom even ethical prudence is an element of praxis and for whom utility is itself a good.

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The Nazi regime represents an extreme in which the polis as a whole adopted a telos of expediency. We should not ignore the implications of our own extreme adoption of expediency in an individualistic and materialistic technology-driven capitalist society.

  • The Social Perspective"; David A;
  • Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A.

We should make awareness of the ethical force of the role of expediency in rhetoric part of our teaching of ethics in technical communication. A rhetoric of technology enables meaning-making about technological aspects of the world; a feminist rhetoric of technology, therefore, enables meaning-making that reflects feminist concerns about technology.

In contemplating what a rhetoric of technology might look like, there are three ways that a feminist approach should differ from a nonfeminist approach. First, a feminist rhetoric of technology should expand the definition of technology into one that addresses the concern that current definitions of technology exclude the historical contributions of women.

Second, feminist scholars should also ask different research questions; specifically, their questions should aim to account for technologies' role and participation in the construction of gendered meanings. Finally, a feminist rhetoric of technology should move beyond the design and development phases of technology in order to address the fact that although new technologies are often promoted as liberatory, they rarely meet that potential.

These three suggestions are a starting place in the move toward a feminist rhetoric of technology, a rhetoric that will draw from, as well as challenge and contradict, nonfeminist rhetorics of technology. Collaborative Writing in Industry: Investigations in Theory and Practice.

The theory and practice of collaborative writing as it applies to workplace writing, along with studies of the implications of this research for the classroom, are the subjects of twelve essays, including David K.

Issues in Information-Development Collaboration. Students in technical writing classes are often surprised to hear that people in business and industry routinely write more than ten pages a week and often much more. Writing is invaluable because it provides a permanent record, it is often more effective than other means of communicating, it is often less expensive than other forms of communicating, it is taken more seriously than oral communication, and so on. There are innumerable genres of reports, proposals, and letters, external and internal, to be produced regularly.

Technical writing teachers should be aware of these forms and include business communication, logic, and audience analysis in their courses. Teaching and Learning in Discourse Communities of Work [ 593 ]. State University of New York Press, 2000. Within the framework of the historical tension between scientific knowledge-making and liberal arts knowledge-making, technical writing becomes both a genuine and a counterfeit form of currency of scientific knowledge.

The scientific knowledge constructed and communicated by scientists and engineers is taken as true currency in a culture dominated by scientific culture, whereas the scientific knowledge made by technical writers with liberal arts backgrounds is considered spurious.

The unscientific language practices that can, and do, make scientific knowledge must be transformed into science before they can become genuine currency of scientific knowledge. Intellectual practices spanning centuries of Western civilization, such as the use of clear, correct English; maximum efficiency of production and operation; the need to contribute to the wealth of scientific knowledge aimed at bettering the human condition; the tension between the role of science and the role of art within a culture; and the urge to purify language and standardize practice, frame this cultural history of technical writing.

Ethics in Technical Communication: A Critique and Synthesis.