My good friend and colleague, Joanna Schreiber, and I have been talking about re-engaging technical and professional communication in some of its core ideas and tenets and re-visiting questions of definitions, theories, and important concepts and issues.
We felt this project was needed because of the increasing fragmentation of technical and professional communication where we seem to be fracturing into a little groups that become echo chambers to only those ideas of the group. As a way to potentially bring us under a more defined umbrella with some ideas of our common grounds, we wanted to see if we could make a project work that could give us all some common ground or finally just admit out loud there is no longer a common ground.
Also, we wanted to help give graduate students, early career faculty, and those faculty who are called upon to teach within our programs without a strong sense of the field a better sense of what technical and professional writing is at this moment in time (circa 2018).
In most things I’ve been a part of, I always include the line about wanting innovative and “out-of-the-box” ideas. We really do mean it. Here’s your chance to write something, your manifesto about the field. We would love to read your ideas in a proposal.
Call for Proposals
Foundational Knowledge and Innovative Practices
in Technical and Professional Communication
Editors: Joanna Schreiber and Lisa Melonçon
As the field of technical and professional continues to grow both academically and professionally, the goal of this book project is to bring together diverse scholarly voices to broaden our understanding of what technical and professional communication is and given those definition(s), a discussion of important and innovative theories, concepts, and practices.
Building from its early history and connection to engineering, computer science, and scientific fields, technical and professional communication now addresses a range of industries, organizations, sites, and locations including everything from technology to healthcare to non-profits. Technical and professional communication practices are central to facilitating complex communication concerns, with increasingly specialized subject matter and through emerging technologies. These ongoing changes are matched by the field’s long standing commitment to building flexible and ethical professional communication knowledge and practices, and this book is designed to bring into focus the foundational knowledge necessary to prepare researchers and practitioners to develop and design emerging communication practices with those values.
We have approached this project by thinking through some of the major areas that have not received the type of scholarly attention that is crucial to sustaining technical and professional communication’s research and identity. Thus, we start with addressing the names and terminologies used to actually characterize the field (e.g., Faber 2002; Schreiber, Carrion, & Lauer, 2018), and then, building from these foundational definition(s), Section Two addresses theories or theoretical approaches (e.g., Graham, 2015; Potts, 2014; Scott et al, 2006) that TPC uses.
The project moves from these foundational definitions and theories in the first two sections to emerging and innovative approaches to topics and practices in the last two sections. The lists we provide here as well as the questions below are intended to spark innovation about both traditional and emerging topics and practices. Section Three will identify and examine technical and professional communication’s key topics and concepts, both traditional and emerging, such as usability (e.g., Rose, 2016); content management (e.g., Andersen & Batova, 2015); information design (e.g., Schriver, 2017); accessibility (e.g., Meloncon, 2013; Oswal, 2018); workplace practices, widely defined, (e.g., Friess, 2018; Spilka, 1993), and international and cultural communication (e.g., St.Amant, 2015).
We ask potential contributors to consider the following questions related to the overall question each of the four major sections seeks to address. These are not an exhaustive list, but are provided as a starting point:
How might we define technical and professional communication for the 21st century and beyond?
The goal of this section is to provide readers with a general overview of the scope, major concerns, and the relationships among the many names of the field.
- What are the differences, similarities, and overlapping concerns among and between technical communication, professional communication, and more specialized communication such as risk communication?
- How and where does business communication fit or intersect with technical and professional communication? Are there more apt terms we should be using?
- Is professional communication the overarching term in which others fit, and if so, why?
- How does TPC’s emphasis on clear and/or plain language effect the definition and identity of the field?
- How do we develop a sustainable identity for the field?
What are our guiding theoretical frameworks?
The goal of this section is to provide readers with broad understanding of major theoretical frameworks as well as the relationships among these frameworks.
- What theories are a must for a technical and professional communicator to know?
- How might long standing theories, such as genre theory or activity theory, need to be reimagined?
- What new theories for long standing practices, such as usability or visual design, need to be built to better understand?
- How do we effectively develop and reimagine frameworks to address global and cultural concerns?
- What theories and frameworks are emerging (e.g., posthumanism or social justice) and/or complicating traditional theories?
- What theories or theoretical frameworks have remained durable, that we need to ensure we do not lose, and/or have them remain flexible and sustainable over time?
What are important and field defining concepts?
This section describes both traditional and emerging topics, concepts, and locations for professional and technical communication research and practice.
- What does the shift to user experience mean for usability and design?
- How has information design shifted with new and easy-to-access technologies?
- How do we expand the role of accessibility, inclusion, and diversity in our work and in the industries we serve?
- How do we address the overlapping concerns of information architecture and content strategy?
- How do TPC concepts help build ethical practices and organizations?
- How might we reconceive of audience(s) in a distributed and mobile environments?
- What challenges do emerging locations and industries raise for the field?
- How can TPC more directly impact issues within the public sphere around participation, inclusion, and equality?
- What new concepts is TPC missing within our engagement with communication practices?
How do definitions, theories, and concepts work in practice?
This section of shorter chapters (4-5k words) is meant to provide innovative case studies, researched effective practices, and instructional texts related to central topics and concerns in technical and professional communication. For example, consider topics such as communication workflow design and developing subject matter expertise. Please contact us with your ideas.
500 to 750 words (not including references)
- clear topic or research question;
- clear research method or conceptual framework;
- clear take-aways and/or implications/applications;
Questions and Feedback
We strongly encourage you to contact us with queries, and we will be happy to provide feedback on your proposals. Email to Joanna Schreiber at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and concerns.
July 31, 2018
Send complete submissions in .docx to Lisa Melonçon at email@example.com
Proposal decisions — August 15
Manuscript Draft One due — January 15
Editorial Feedback — February 15
Manuscript Draft Two due — March 15
Reviewer Feedback and Publication Decisions — May 15
Manuscript Draft Three due — June 15
Publication Fall 2019
**Pending a successful peer review, this will be one of the first volumes published in the WAC Clearinghouse/CSU Press TPC Foundations and Innovations book series <https://wac.colostate.edu/books/tpc/>
Andersen, R., & Batova, T. (2015). The current state of component content management: An integrative literature review. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 58(3), 247-270.
Faber, B. (2002). Professional identities: What is professional about professional communication? Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 16(3), 306-337.
Friess, E. (2018). “Filling to Capacity”: An Exploratory Study of Project Management Language in Agile Scrum Teams. Technical Communication.
Graham, S. S. (2015). The politics of pain medicine: A rhetorical-ontological inquiry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Meloncon, L. (Ed.) (2013). Rhetorical accessability: At the intersection of technical communication and disability studies. Amityville, NY: Baywood.
Oswal, S. K. (2018). Can workplaces, classrooms and pedagogies be disabling? Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 81(1), 3-19.
Potts, L. (2014). Social media in disaster response: How experience architects can build for participation. New York: Routledge.
Rose, E. J. (2016). Design as advocacy: Using a human-centered approach to investigate the needs of vulnerable populations. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(4), 427-445.
Scott, J. B., Longo, B., & Wills, K. V. (Eds.). (2006). Critical power tools: Technical communication and cultural studies. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Schreiber, J., Carrion, M., & Lauer, J. (2018). Revisiting the service course to map out the future of the field. Programmatic Perspectives, 10(1), 1-11.
Schriver, K. (2017). Rhetoric of redesign in bureaucratic settings. In J. Franscara, (Ed.), Information design as principled action: Making information accessible, relevant, understandable, and usable (pp.173-184). Champaign, IL: Common Ground Publishing.
Spilka, R. (Ed.). (1993). Writing in the workplace: New research perspectives. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
St.Amant, K. (2015). Culture and the contextualization of care: A prototype-based approach to developing health and medical visuals for international audiences. Communication Design Quarterly, 3(2), 38-47.