Research Practice

Download Pdf of the CFP: Research Practice in TPC 

Proposal deadline: April 19, 2024

Research Practice in Technical and Professional Communication


Michelle McMullin, North Carolina State University

Valerie Smith, University of South Florida

Lisa Melonçon, University of South Florida

Scholars in technical and professional communication (TPC) continue to consider the field’s approaches to research. To this end, scholars have

  • Examined research relationship between practitioners and the academic field (e.g.,Blakeslee & Spilka, 2004; Friess & Boettger, 2021; Gonzales et al., 2017; St.Amant & Melonçon, 2016);
  • Performed meta-analysis of research from varying perspectives (e.g., Boettger & Lam, 2013;Carliner et al., 2011; Carradini, 2022;  Melonçon & St. Amant, 2019; Melonçon, et al., 2020);
  • Discussed ways in which members of the field are trained to do research (e.g., Albers, 2017; Campbell, 2000; Pantelides, 2017; Turner, et al., 2017);
  • Offered new research methodologies or frameworks (e.g., Agboka, 2014; de Hertogh, 2018; St.Amant & Graham, 2019; Lam & Wolfe, 2022; McNely et al., 2014; Scott & Melonçon, 2018; Moore & Elliot, 2016; Petersen & Walton, 2018; Phelps, 2021; Shivers-McNair et al., 2019;) and
  • Worked with communities and/or examined research relationships with communities and community partners (e.g. Agobka, 2013; Amidon et al., 2023; Itchuaqiyag et al., 2023; Rivera, 2024; Rose et al., 2017; Schelly et al., 2024).

However, an area that is noticeably missing from research on research is dedicated work on the “how” of research practice, which is the “actual work and implementation of methods and methodology in the process of performing research” (Melonçon & St.Amant, 2019). Explicating the “how” of research practice would involve detailing the problems, tensions, and complications that arise during research or what recent rhetorical scholarship has called “investigative pivots” (Johnson et al., 2021). In TPC, we see these pivots described in only a few works (e.g., Angeli, 2018; Smith et al., 2021; Teston, 2012). To prepare to negotiate complex research sites and research questions, including engagement with communities, TPC needs a deeper and broader understanding of “the beliefs and obligations that shape how one acts as a researcher” (Grabill, 2012, p. 211), and how those same beliefs and obligations affect research practice in the moment.

The goal of this collection is to gather examples and case studies to help others work through their own research practice quandaries. We hope to bring together diverse experiences of research practice that consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • How do researchers articulate their goals and methods with/for participants? And how might this articulation capture the process of the same?
  • How do researchers negotiate barriers, complications or shifting questions in the midst of a research study?
  • What does it look like to pivot or to reshape methods in situ?
  • How do researchers build reciprocal relationships with study participants? Should they?
  • How do researchers locate sites or artifacts for research, and how do sites and/or artifacts shape/inform available methods?
  • How might TPC teach research practice to undergraduate researchers vs. graduate students?
  • What is the relationship between ethics and practice?
  • What approaches to framing and describing methods support reflection and iteration of research practices?
  • How do researchers deal with the embodied and affective dimensions of research during (and after) the practice of research?

While this list is not exhaustive, it does point to the overall aims of the volume to focus on the “how” of research practice. The editors seek chapter proposals of 500-750 words (excluding references) that are written for a primary audience of early career researchers.

Since “how” questions work to describe in what manner, by what means, in what state, or to what extent, chapter proposals should offer insights into research practice and lessons learned. We anticipate final contributions will vary in length from shorter (e.g., 4k words) to longer submissions (e.g., 10k words), as well as submissions that may take on a less traditional form and structure.


Proposal due: April 19, 2024

Decisions to authors: May 13, 2024

Full chapters; August 26, 2024

Send queries to any or all editors and send submissions to Michelle McMullin at with a subject line of Research Practices submission.

 Target publisher: WAC Clearinghouse since we are in favor of open access publication. 


Agboka, Godwin Y. (2013). Participatory localization: A social justice approach to navigating unenfranchised/disenfranchised cultural sites. Technical Communication Quarterly, 22(1), 28-49.

Agboka, Godwin Y. (2014). Decolonial methodologies: Social justice perspectives in intercultural technical communication research. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 44(3), 297-327.

Albers, Michael J. (2017). Quantitative data analysis—in the graduate curriculum. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(2), 215-233.

Amidon, Timothy R., Moore, Kristen R., & Simmons, Michele. (2023). Valuing and making visible the labor of coalitional practice: Redesigning genres & methodologies for justice-oriented communication design [special issue]. Communication Design Quarterly, 11(2).

Angeli, Elizabeth (2018). Assemblage mapping: A research methodology for rhetoricians of health and medicine. In Lisa Melonçon & J. Blake Scott (Eds.), Methodologies for the rhetoric of health and medicine (pp. 235-260). Routledge.

Blakeslee, Ann M., & Spilka, Rachel. (2004). The state of research in technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 13(1), 73-92.

Boettger, R. K., & Lam, C. (2013). An overview of experimental and quasi-experimental research in technical communication journals. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 56(4), 272-293.

Campbell, Kim Sydow. (2000). Research methods course work for students specializing in business and technical communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 14(2), 223-241.

Carradini, Stephen. (2022). The ship of theseus: Change over time in topics of technical communication research abstracts. In Joanna Schreiber & Lisa Melonçon (Eds.), Assembling critical components: A framework for sustaining technical and professional communication (pp. 39-68). The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

Coppola, Nancy W., & Carliner, Saul. (2011). Is our peer-reviewed literature sustainable? Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), 2011 IEEE International, Cincinnati, OH.

De Hertogh, Lori Beth. (2018). Feminist digital research methodology for rhetoricians of health and medicine. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 32(4).

Friess, Erin, & Boettger, Ryan K. (2021). Identifying commonalities and divergences between technical communication scholarly and trade publications (1996–2017). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 35(4), 407-432.

Gonzales, Laura, & Turner, Heather Noel. (2019). Challenges and insights for fostering academic-industry collaborations in ux Proceedings of the 37th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication, Portland, Oregon.

Itchuaqiyag, Cana Uluak, Lindgren, Chris A. , & Kramer, Corina Qaagraq. (2023). Decolonizing community-engaged research: Designing cer with cultural humility as a foundational value. Communication Design Quarterly, 11(3), 12-20.

Johnson, Gavin P., Guadrón, Melissa, Hambrick, Keira, Hashlamon, Yanar, Koneval, Addison, & Teston, Christa. (2021). Responding to the investigative pivots of rhetoric research. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 51(5), 407-421.

Lam, C., & Wolfe, J. (2022). An Introduction to Quasi-Experimental Research for Technical and Professional Communication Instructors. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 37(2), 174-193.

McNely, Brian, Spinuzzi, Clay, & Teston, Christa. (2014). Contemporary research methodologies in technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 24(1), 1-13.

Melonçon, Lisa, Rosselot-Merritt, Jeremy, & St.Amant, Kirk. (2020). A field-wide metasynthesis of pedagogical research in technical and professional communication. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 50(1), 91-118.

Meloncon, Lisa, & St.Amant, Kirk. (2019). Empirical research in technical and professional communication:  A five-year examination of research methods and  a call for research sustainability. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 49(2), 128-155.

Moore, Kristen R., & Elliott, Timothy J. (2016). From participatory design to a listening infrastructure: A case of urban planning and participation. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 30(1), 59-84.

Pantelides, Kate L. (2017). Graduate students “show their work”: Metalanguage in dissertation methodology sections. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(2), 194-214.

Petersen, Emily January, & Walton, Rebecca. (2018). Bridging analysis and action: How feminist scholarship can inform the social justice turn. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 32(4), 416-446.

Phelps, Johanna L. (2021). The transformative paradigm: Equipping technical communication researchers for socially just work. Technical Communication Quarterly, 30(2), 204-215.

Rivera, Nora K. . (2024). The rhetorical mediator: Understanding agency in indigenous translation and interpretation through indigenous approaches to ux. Utah State University Press.

Rose, Emma J., Racadio, Robert, Wong, Kalen, Nguyen, Shally, Kim, Jee, & Zahler, Abbie. (2017). Community-based user experience: Evaluating the usability of health insurance information with immigrant patients. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 60(2), 214-231.

Schelly, Chelsea, Gagnon, Valoree, Brosemer, Kathleen, & Arola, Kristin. (2024). Engagement for life’s sake: Reflections on partnering and partnership with rural tribal nations☆. Rural Sociology.

Scott, J. Blake, & Melonçon, Lisa. (2018). Manifesting methodologies for the rhetoric and health and medicine. In Lisa Meloncon & J. Blake Scott (Eds.), Methodologies for the rhetoric of health and medicine (pp. 1-23). Routledge.

Shivers-McNair, A., Gonzales, L., & Zhyvotovska, T. (2019). An intersectional technofeminist framework for community-driven technology innovation. Computers and Composition, 51, 43-54.

St.Amant, Kirk, & Graham, S. Scott. (2019). Research that resonates: A perspective on durable and portable approaches to scholarship in technical communication and rhetoric of science. Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 99-111.

St.Amant, Kirk, & Meloncon, Lisa. (2016). Reflections on research: Examining practitioner perspectives on the state of research in technical communication. Technical Communication, 63(4), 346-363.

Teston, Christa. (2012). Considering confidentiality in research design: Developing heuristics to chart the un-chartable. In Katrina Powell & Pamela Takayoshi (Eds.), Practicing research in writing studies: Reflexive and ethically responsible research (pp. 307-330). Hampton Press.

Turner, Heather Noel, Nguyen, Minh-Tam, Keller, Beth, Sackey, Donnie Johnson, Ridolfo, Jim, Pigg, Stacey, Lauren, Benjamin, Potts, Liza, Hart-Davidson, Bill, & Grabill, Jeff. (2017). Wide research center as an incubator for graduate student experience. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(2), 130-150.