Online first articles

CDQ publishes articles online first as soon as the articles are ready for publication. Articles are then published as an official part of one of our quarterly issues. Online first articles do have DOIs before they are part of an issue, so it is possible to cite them using the DOI. Once the article is published in an issue, we change the link from the online first version to a link to the full issue PDF.

We leave articles on this page for approximately 18-months after they are published . After that period, the articles must be accessed through the ACM Digital Library. The one exception we make is for special issues, which are published as full issues and individual articles are not published online first except for the special issue introduction, which will appear on this page once the issue is published. To access special issues, please go to our Current and Past Issues page.

Important note: The links below are to mostly to full issues. To access the individual articles, please go through the ACM Digital Library if you have access and search for the article (it also seriously helps our publication if you access articles through ACM, and we really appreciate it!).

Constructing structured content on WordPress: Emerging paradigms in web content management

by Daniel Carter

Web content management systems (WCMSs) are widely used technologies that, like previous writing tools, shape how people think about and create documents. Despite their influence and ubiquity, however, WCMSs have received exceedingly little attention from scholars interested in social aspects of technology. I begin to address this gap by analyzing the development of WordPress’s content creation experience through the lens of
structured content. Based on this analysis, I contribute to ongoing discussions of content management by first suggesting that concepts such as structured content need to be understood as the contingent products of technical lineages and technical and social relationships and by second drawing attention to emerging paradigms of content creation, such as the merging of content creation and arrangement and the conflation of visual and abstract representations of content objects.

Download issue 11 (1) here.

Questioning neoliberal rhetorics of wellness: Designing programmatic interventions to better support graduate instructor wellbeing

by Samantha Clem and Beth Buysiere

Abstract: Previous research has recognized the neoliberal trends that permeate the rhetorics of academic wellness, placing the responsibility for wellbeing on individuals rather than institutions and systems. In this study, the authors implemented a participatory action research (PAR) project to collaborate with different stakeholders in one university writing program and develop programmatic approaches to support the wellbeing one subset of academic faculty: graduate student instructors. Along with an account of how we adapted our PAR methodology to align with the wellness needs of our participants, we also provide a description and analysis of the intervention developed collaboratively in the PAR group. We end with five takeaways that researchers and stakeholders in graduate student education can apply to developing programmatic interventions that better support graduate instructor wellbeing: 1) research methodologies should adapt to foreground wellbeing; 2) productive conversations about wellbeing should start by acknowledging and validating the lived experience of graduate instructors; 3) students want to be involved in programmatic processes and procedures that support their wellbeing; 4) facilitating (but not requiring) non-productive social interaction among grad students can support GI wellbeing; 5) the work of supporting wellbeing is never fully done—we call on administrators, faculty members, and students to continue this work.

Download issue 11 (1) here.

Exploring healthcare communication gaps between US universities and their international students: A technical communication approach

by Akshata Balghare

Abstract: US healthcare is a complicated system not just for US-born citizens but also international students in the US. While universities inform international students about how US healthcare functions, these students still struggle with navigating healthcare owing to the cultural and technical challenges they face with the system. This paper investigates how US healthcare information can be conveyed effectively by universities so that international students navigate healthcare with fewer challenges. This research was conducted using qualitative methods with 12 international student participants at a US university. Using the collected data, the study provides recommendations to improve healthcare communication on campuses and insights to increase the scope of this study to further investigate international students’ healthcare access challenges.

Download issue 11 (1) here.

The coping with COVID project: Participatory public health communication

by Kathryn Yankura Swacha

Abstract: This paper reports on The Coping with COVID Project, a qualitative study and public-facing platform that invited participants to share their experiences, via stories and images, with navigating COVID-related public health guidelines. The study revealed daily activities during the pandemic summarized in three themes: lived ‘compliance;’ emplaced, storied negotiations; and affective, embodied efforts. In light of such findings, this article outlines recommendations for a participatory, actionable story and visual-driven approach to public health communication that recognizes the various contexts—e.g., physical, material, affective, structural—which impact how such communication is interpreted and acted upon by people in their daily lives. A heuristic is included for communicators, researchers, and community members to use in enacting this approach.

Download issue 11 (1) here.

Embodied participation: (re)Situating bodies in collaborative research

by Michael Clay, Bridie McGreavy, & Jennifer Smith-Mayo

Abstract: Our paper centers embodiment as a theme and a process in research through describing the fine-grained practices and everyday interactions that shape collaborative research in the contexts of watershed restoration and environmental monitoring. We focus on embodiment because it offers a means for attending to the process and politics of knowledge production within and across boundaries. We offer two case studies that focus on embodiment to structure research processes and shape ongoing, emergent, and collaborative research practices. We argue technical communication as a field is well positioned to include embodied practices in research design and writing.

Download issue 10 (4) here.

Surveying the Effects of Remote Communication & Collaboration Practices on Game Developers Amid a Pandemic

by Elizabeth Caravella

Abstract: Communication and collaboration are essential parts of the game development process. However, during the global pandemic, the shift to remote work marked a sudden change in how developers could communicate and collaborate with one another, as usual ad-hoc conversations that happen in physical offices were nonexistent. Based on a partnership grant study with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), this piece focuses on the results of a survey that examined developers’ mental health and productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings suggest that the majority of game developers would want a hybrid or fully remote position even after pandemic conditions subside. Failure to address the pandemic’s impact on the game development industry risks ignoring a rich area of technical communication complicated by, and responsive to, hybrid workplaces.

Download issue 10 (4) here.

Ethical Design Approaches for Workplace Augmented Reality

by Jacob Greene

Abstract: Augmented reality (AR) technologies are increasingly being implemented in various workplace contexts; however, they pose a number of ethical design challenges. To discern the ethical implications of workplace AR, this article conducts an analysis of the promotional discourses surrounding a workplace AR system. This analysis demonstrates a tendency to frame AR technologies in terms of a transhumanist evolution in worker agency and organizational efficiency. Such discourses elide applications of workplace AR for purposes of worker surveillance and exploitation. The article concludes by outlining speculative ethical design guidelines that communication designers can take up in their work on workplace AR systems.

Download issue 10 (4) here.

Special issue introduction (volume 10, issue 3): Writing infrastructure

by Sarah Read and Jordan Frith

Note: This is the introduction to Issue 10 (3), which is the second of two special issues of CDQ focused on theorizing and analyzing writing and design as infrastructure. You can find a PDF of the full issue here, and a page with the titles and abstracts of each article in the issue here.

Abstract: This article is the introduction to the second of two Communication and Design Quarterly special issues focused on conceptualizations of infrastructure. While there are more continuities than differences between the themes and methodologies of articles in the first and second issues, this second issue leans towards articles that have taken up infrastructure as it pertains to writing and rhetoric. This introduction frames the value of infrastructure as a metaphor for making visible how writing and rhetoric structure and enact much of our world, especially for writing pedagogy. In addition, this article concludes by introducing the six contributions in this issue.

Download issue 10 (3) here.

Special issue introduction (volume 10, issue 2): Communication and design infrastructures

by Jordan Frith and Sarah Read

Note: This is the introduction to Issue 10 (2), which is the first of two special issues of CDQ focused on theorizing and analyzing writing and design as infrastructure. You can find a PDF of the full issue here, and a page with the titles and abstracts of each article in the issue here.

Abstract: This article is the introduction of the first of two Communication and Design Quarterly special issues focused on conceptualizations of infrastructure. This introduction explains the inspiration for these two special issues and details the growth of infrastructural research across the humanities and social sciences. This article also explains the structure of the issue and argues that the articles found across these two issues make a strong case for centering infrastructural knowledge in our work going forward.

Download issue 10 (2) here.

Ethical deception: Student perceptions of diversity in college recruitment materials

by Chris Daley

Abstract: The use of images of students from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds in college recruitment materials presents a seemingly difficult dilemma. Should colleges and universities use diversity in recruitment materials to try and attract students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds even if those images do not accurately represent the amount of diversity at the university? To discover student perceptions relating to this question, I used a mixed-methods approach in which I surveyed 117 students and then interviewed 10 survey participants. Survey and interview questions were based on utilitarian versus deontological ethics with an emphasis on whether exaggerating diversity in recruitment materials is ethical. The results of this exploratory study showed that most students believe using a disproportionate amount of diversity in recruitment materials is unethical. Student participants who identified as a person from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group indicated that it is unethical to exaggerate diversity in recruitment materials at a higher percentage than their white counterparts. This is likely because people from underrepresented backgrounds face a much higher risk of harm from misleading recruitment materials than their white peers.

Download volume 10 (1) here.

Digital humanities and technical communication pedagogy: A case and a course for cross-program opportunities

by Brian Ballentine

Abstract: Technical communication instructors, especially those with expertise in visual rhetoric, information design, or multimedia writing are well-suited to teach an introductory Digital Humanities (DH) course. Offering a DH course provides an opportunity to reach additional audiences and work with students from a variety of humanities disciplines who may not have the option of taking such a course in their home department. The article advocates for a DH course that offers a methods-driven pedagogy that engages students with active learning by requiring them to research, dissect, and report on existing DH projects, as well as work with existing datasets and methods from prior student research projects or existing DH tools. The sample student project reviewed here uses the data visualization software ImagePlot, and discussion includes how the student used the tool to examine changes in brightness, hue, and color saturation, as well as calculate the total number of distinct shapes from 397 comic book covers. Ultimately, the students are tasked with developing a research question and moving to an articulated methods-driven approach for exploring the question. The student project along with the tools and sample datasets available with them are treated as a module that may be included in an introductory DH course syllabus or training session.

Download volume 10 (1) here.

(Experience report) Streamlining complex website design using a content audit selection heuristic

by Amanda Altamirano and Sonia H. Stephens

In this project experience report, we describe our experience working as researchers specializing in technical communication that informed the risk communication decisions for an interdisciplinary, grant-funded, risk communication website called HazardAware. We first discuss how content audits serve as a website design research method. Next, we provide our Content Audit Selection heuristic in a process flowchart format to enable communicators to understand how practical application of content audits serve as a formative tool to streamline the decision-making processes for complex website design content. Finally, we describe how we used the Content Audit Selection heuristic to inform the risk communication decisions for HazardAware.

Download volume 10 (1) here.

Investigating disembodied University crisis communications during COVID-19

by Erika Sparby and Courtney Cox

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us many weaknesses in crisis communication, especially at universities where campus communities are often rendered as disembodied monoliths. In this article, we select a case example from our own institution to show that when bodies are erased from university crisis communication, power imbalances are reinscribed that render campus community members powerless. Using a critical feminist methodology, we end with several suggestions for more inclusive embodied institutional crisis messaging.

Download volume 10 (1) here.

(Experience report) Unlikely allies in preventing sexual misconduct: Student led prevention efforts in a technical communication classroom

by Avery Edenfield, Hailey Judd, Emmalee Fishburn, and Felicia Gallegos

Abstract: Students’ participation in relevant service learning can have a unique impact on their institution of higher education, if provided the opportunity. This article explores student-designed sexual misconduct prevention efforts taking place in an undergraduate project management course at one institution of higher education. We found that involving students in particular kinds of campus communication design and implementation simultaneously improved those efforts and offered students the opportunity to participate in impactful civic projects. In our article, we first examine the most common approach to sexual misconduct prevention, while considering its limitations. We then introduce a nontraditional collaboration—technical communication student involvement within prevention work—which resulted in new efforts. Finally, we illustrate how instructors can integrate similar collaborations.

Download volume 9 (4) here.

Rewriting sexual violence prevention: A comparative rhetorical analysis of online prevention courses in the United States and New Zealand

by Angela Myers

Abstract: As part of a larger research project on the rhetoric of sexual violence prevention in online university courses, the researcher conducted rhetorical analyses of two prevention courses from the United States and New Zealand. This study analyzed the rhetorical strategies used in two courses with attention to five subcategories: content genres, ways the content addresses the audience, messaging strategies, levels of prevention, and sentence-level choices. From the analyses, the researcher recommends rhetorical considerations for prevention courses. While the New Zealand course had more effective language choices, the US course had a better overall narrative structure.

Download volume 9 (3) here.

Outcomes of training in Smart Home technology adoption: A living laboratory study

by David Wright, Daniel B. Shank, and Thomas Yarbrough

Abstract: While various forms of smart home technology have been available for decades, they have yet to achieve widespread adoption. Although they have risen in popularity during recent years, the general public continue to rate smart home devices as overly complex compared to their benefits. This article reports the results of an eight-month study into the effects of training on smart home technology adoption. Building upon the results of a previous study, and using the same living laboratory approach, we studied the effects of training on the attitudes of a group of residents toward use of smart home technology. Results show that training influences those attitudes toward smart home technology, including increased confidence in future use, and increased actual use of more complex smart home features. Results also indicate that users tended to seek out other users rather than training materials for advice, and that privacy concerns were not a deterrent to using smart home devices.

Download volume 9 (3) here.

(Experience Report) Using a hybrid card sorting-affinity diagramming method to teach content analysis

by Kristin Marie Bivens & Candice A. Welhausen

Abstract: In this teaching experience report, we describe a research experience for undergraduates (REUs) designed to cognitively support the work of two student research assistants (RAs) from a two-year college (2YC) on a funded project that involved analyzing user-generated content for an mHealth app. First, we suggest partnerships between two- and four-year institutions as a move toward REU equity because students from 2YCs are not typically afforded these opportunities. We then review the role of research in undergraduate learning and posit the importance of scaffolding to sequence cognitive leaps. Finally, we present the cognitive scaffolding we created and connect it to our hybrid card sorting affinity diagramming content analysis method.

Download volume 9 (3) here.

(Experience Report) Technical content marketing along the technology adoption lifecycle

by Scott A. Mogull

This article provides an overview of technical content marketing and examines the audiences and messaging for technical product messaging, which differ from general consumer products. Notably, technical products, particularly those in innovative categories, require a varying marketing strategy throughout the technology adoption lifecycle as products appeal to customers with different attitudes towards technologies. Especially, content marketing for innovative technologies requires an understanding of the technical consumers’ (or audiences’) psychological motivations and needs, which have yet to be reviewed in the technical communication literature. In this article, the foundations of marketing innovative technical products are explored, with a specific focus on the messaging strategies as it changes to educate and persuade different categories of technology consumers during different phases of the technology adoption lifecycle. For new technical products and categories of products, the messages and channels of information evolve as the technical innovation progresses from the early market to a mainstream market, with both requiring adaptation to different audience segments and in response to emerging competitive pressures. For the majority of technical innovations, the technical content marketing strategy and messaging is a long-term investment for change to reach different consumer groups at the appropriate stage of the technical product life cycle.

Download volume 9 (2) here.

Rhetorical hedonism and gray genres

by Jimmy Butts and Josephine Walwema

Abstract: As technical genres continue to grow and morph in promising new directions, we attempt an analysis of what are typically viewed as mundane genres. We use the term gray genres, which we find useful for interrogating texts that tend to fall in categories that tend toward a blandness that is invariably difficult to quantify. We use hedonism, along with a historical accounting for this value from its classical rhetorical lineage and run it up to contemporary applications. We posit that playful stylistic choices—while typically discouraged in more technical spaces—actually improves the rhetorical canon of delivery for informative documents. We close with case studies that offer close readings of a few attempts at employing hedonistic tactics within typical gray genres.

Download volume 9 (2) here.

A machine learning algorithm for sorting online comments via topic modeling

by Junzhe Zhu, Elizabeth Wickes, and John R. Gallagher

Abstract: This article uses a machine learning algorithm to demonstrate a proof-of-concept case for moderating and managing online comments as a form of content moderation, which is an emerging area of interest for technical and professional communication (TPC) researchers. The algorithm sorts comments by topical similarity to a reference comment/article rather than display comments by linear time and popularity. This approach has the practical benefit of enabling TPC researchers to reconceptualize content display systems in dynamic ways.

Download volume 9 (2) here.

Decolonizing decoloniality: Considering the (mis)use of decolonial frameworks in TPC scholarship

by Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq and Breeanne Matheson

As the field of technical and professional communication (TPC) has moved toward more inclusive perspectives, the use of decolonial frameworks has increased rapidly. However, TPC scholarship designed using decolonial frameworks lacks a clear, centralized definition and may overgeneralize and/or marginalize Indigenous concerns. Using a corpus analysis of TPC texts, we assess the ways that the field uses “decolonial” and propose a centralized definition of “decolonial” that focuses on rematriation of Indigenous land and knowledges. Further, we offer a heuristic that aids scholars in communication design appropriate for decolonial research and teaching strategies.

Download volume 9 (1) here.